The United Methodist Church

Bishop John Schol

Eastern Pennsylvania
& Greater New Jersey
April 4, 2022
Direction: A Key Ingredient for Successful Leadership
Part 2: Mission

Successful leaders lead toward something. Churches, ministries and organizations without direction flounder and eventually fail. There are three things that are essential to successful leadership: vision, mission and goals. In March* I shared with you about vision. Today I will talk with you about mission.

While vision provides direction and inspiration, mission provides purpose, focus and alignment.

What is Mission?
Mission is used in different ways. We use the word mission to describe an activity when helping others, or a cause or purpose we give money to, or the purpose of a church or organization. In this article I am using the word mission to describe the purpose of a church, organization or ministry. 

A mission is a brief phrase that describes the key activity or purpose of a congregation or ministry. It provides what leadership should focus on achieving; and it aligns people, resources and activities to accomplish the purpose of the church or ministry. The following are examples of mission statements.

Recruit and develop transformational leaders to make disciples of Jesus Christ and grow vital congregations for the transformation of the world. This is our purpose as United Methodists of Eastern Pennsylvania (EPA). The mission statement is the first five words, recruit and equip transformational leaders; and the remainder of the phrase is what transformational leaders do. 

“Recruit and develop transformational leaders” focuses and aligns people, resources and activities of EPA. EPA is shaping its budget, staffing and activities with the singular question, “Will this recruit and develop transformational leaders?” EPA as an organization does not directly make disciples or grow vital congregations. This work is done by congregations. Instead, EPA develops lay and clergy leaders to be transformative leaders so that disciples are made, congregations grow in vitality and world transformation is experienced in and through congregations.
Maximize disciple making. This is the mission statement of the cabinet, our district superintendents and bishop, when making appointments. When the cabinet considers different churches and pastors for appointments, it asks the question, “Which churches have the greatest probability of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, and which pastors will maximize this possibility?”

Sometimes the cabinet is faced with the difficult decision of whether a particular pastor will better serve the overall mission of the church, making disciples and world transformation in one church over another church. But the question becomes, “Which pastor will better maximize making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?”

A congregation’s mission
To know and serve God. This is a congregation’s mission. It focuses the time, treasure and talents of people to deepen their relationship with God and to equip and support them to serve God. This is a mission statement that can adapt with the congregation and people as they grow and mature in their faith, within an ever-changing community as their mission field. 

Some churches would like to expand a mission statement by providing further descriptors of what people are to know or the types of service. But this leads to narrowing God’s possibility for the congregation, or its ministry groups, or its individuals. The concise mission statement actually expands possibilities, based on an individual’s level of faith development and talent, passion and ability for service. It also provides a powerful question for focusing resources and ministry: “Will this better help us to know and serve God?

Gather for fellowship and learning, and support members in daily living. This is a mission of a small group; and while a little long, 11 words, it clarifies why the group meets. It also provides a paradigm for what they do when they meet: begin with fellowship; engage in learning; identify life commitments in the coming weeks; and covenant for how the group members will support one another in their living during the week.

While vision provides direction and inspiration, the mission statement provides what you will do to move toward God’s preferred future. The mission statement focuses and aligns how you will use the resources of time, talent and treasure to accomplish the purpose of the congregation.

Does your congregation have a clear mission statement, vision and goals? Are they shaping and focusing your congregation’s time, talent and treasure? EPA has people ready to assist your congregation and ministry to shape a mission statement. Contact the Director of Connectional Ministries, Dawn Taylor-Storm at for more information about how your congregation can develop, identify and carry out its vision, mission and goals. 

Be purposeful and fruitful. Lead toward your vision, mission and goals.
Keep the faith!


Bishop John Schol
The United Methodists of
Eastern Pennsylvania & Greater New Jersey | 610-666-1442 | 732-359-1010

Equipping transformational leaders for 
New Disciples | Vital Congregations | Transformed World
Read Part 1 of Bishop Schol’s three-part essay “Direction: A Key Ingredient for Successful Leadership” on the EPA website’s Bishop’s Page. There he shares Jesus’ vision, mission and goals. He tells us what a vision should accomplish—providing inspiration and direction—and how a vision should be articulated and promoted to be most effective.  

“Today, the church is in a season of discerning what God has next for us,” Bishop Schol writes. “This is a time to discern and reframe God’s vision, missional clarity and ministries for a healthy body of Christ. This is a time for learning, experimentation and refinement to identify what is essential for the life of the church, as we move forward with God.”

Part three of his essay, with a focus on Goals, will follow in May 2022.