I read a lot of Mission or Vision statements from a lot of different churches. Most of them don’t turn me on and if they won’t turn me on there is a good chance they won’t turn on anyone other than churched people. They are mostly:
· too churchy – using words that are familiar only to church people.
· too generic to inspire anyone. Most visions I see are far too generic to catch the imagination of most people and especially the movers and shakers, and if you don’t attract some movers and shakers you seldom build a great church.
· too transient – in other words, they are the “vision of the moment” and change when a better slogan comes along.
· too wordy – not only can you not put it on a T-shirt, but a college graduate could not remember it.
One of my favorite examples of a vision statement that isn’t worth the paper it is printed on is the one my own denomination has at the moment – “open doors, open hearts, open minds.” Aside from being the statement dejur, this vision statement or slogan or whatever is so generic it could be applied to any religion. It really says nothing about commitment or mission – just openness. But openness to what? Most unchurched people aren’t going to be impressed by open-endedness. The world is too full of ambivalence. The unchurched are looking for something far more solid than that.
People need more than words in the vision. They need something measurable, something they can’t do on their own, and something that is beyond their imagination. Mega givers won’t give to generic visions.
Compare your vision to the vision my pastor shared in the early years of his church plant – “we’re going to do whatever it takes to change Corpus Christi, to reduce crime and divorce and to plant 100 churches over the next ten years.” Or consider how he honed in on the vision last Sunday – “God wants us to double the church in five months” (my guess is he feels this needs to be done to be on track with being able to plant 90 churches over the next four or five years in order to reach the goal of 100 in ten years).
Let me tell you a couple of stories. I was sitting at a table eating dinner in Costa Rica some seven years ago listening to a man weave a story about a new idea he was creating called Los Suenos Resorts. At the moment there was nothing but dirt and ocean, no condos, no marina, just his vision. As we listened to him unravel his vision, the man to my right began to light up. The developer was describing the resort in such detail it was making the man’s mouth water. I didn’t know then, but he had millions. At the end of the dinner he bought several plots of ground that were promised to contain condos in time. He paid about $150,000 per condo. Three years later, marina in place and the condos built, the man began selling the condos for 1.5 million each. Quite a nice profit for three years.
Second story. My pastor was just finishing a sermon in which he laid out the benefits of the new home for the church that was being built. The wall behind him was covered with electronic pictures of the church to be. He went through every room of the potential new building and made you feel as if you were actually there. And he tied it all to the goal of planting 100 churches over the next ten years. When the service was over, a man whom he had never met and whom he later learned had never been to the church before, approached him with this question – Pastor, how can I help? What do you need the most? My pastor said, “I need a million dollars by the end of this week.” The man paused for a moment, then took out his checkbook and wrote a check for one million dollars.
My point? Get specific in your vision and cast it often and tie everything you say, preach, and do to it. AND don’t be afraid to ask for whatever it is you need.
Here is my favorite Mission Statement of all time. It comes from New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu.
Our purpose is … “To present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that turns non-Christians into converts, converts into disciples, and disciples into mature, fruitful leaders who will in turn go into the world and reach others for Christ.”
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