What would you like your world to look like 5 years from now? How about 10 or 20 or 50 years from now?
When we can answer that question as a church, conference, or other ministry setting, we are on the road to mission clarity and increased fundraising capacity. People give to make a difference in the world – and want to know exactly what kind of impact your ministry will make.
Answering that first question creates the vision – a picture of a future world we have yet to attain. The mission then becomes what we are doing to turn the vision into reality. For example, the UCC vision is “United in Christ’s love, a just world for all.” The mission states our actions to get there: “United in Spirit & inspired by God’s grace, we welcome all, love all, and seek justice for all.”
In one UCC church I pastored, our mission centered around “Everyone welcome – no exceptions!” Everything we did or considered doing was filtered through this lens. Proposed actions that didn’t fit this mission were gratefully declined. Each year we chose three objectives to focus on that fit the mission.
With this kind of mission clarity, people know what your church is doing, get excited about it, and are willing to offer more of their dollars to the effort. Too often in the church we try to be all things to all people all the time, which waters down our mission (and our ministry) until it’s so general that it could belong to any church. We cannot be all things to all people.
So what about you and your ministry setting? What makes you unique or sets you apart? Who are you called to be in your context? How are your congregation, community, and the world being transformed by your presence?
Once you have greater clarity on your vision and mission, ask yourselves:
- Do all stakeholders feel comfortable naming and discussing the vision and mission of the congregation? If not, what steps can you take to move them in that direction?
- How are the values, vision, and mission of the congregation apparent to visitors or others who intersect with the congregation?
While your vision and mission statements may be a little longer (try to keep them brief!), a short tagline or motto derived from them can bring greater focus and be easy to remember and share. Pay attention to language, too: use words and phrases that people outside of your congregation and our faith tradition could understand without decoding. And remember that mission statements aren’t forever and can be changed. Keep them unique and specific to who you are and strive to be right now.
Here are a few mottos or taglines from around the UCC that I find effectively communicate a church’s mission clarity:
- Pray Together, Play Together, Serve Together
- Servants of a Just & Common Good
- To Heal, Inspire, & Empower in the Way of Jesus
- We Seek God, Include All, Serve Others
- Inclusive, Generous, Creative, Progressive
- Love Unconditionally, Challenge Spiritually, Minister Fervently
- We Agree to Differ, Resolve to Love, Unite to Serve
Blessing to you on coming to clarity of vision and mission and in raising the resources to move us toward shalom, toward making the kin-dom of God more real in our presence every day.
Yours in Faith,
Rev. Andy DeBraber
National Setting of the UCC