So, you need to create a mission statement for your church. How do you even begin?
Writing a mission statement is no easy task. And as soon as you start, you’ll ask yourself whether you also need to craft a mission statement. Then, you’ll inevitably wonder, “Wait, what’s the difference between a vision and a mission statement again?”
In this article, we’ll explore the importance of having clear and compelling church vision, mission, and value statements.
But first, a little more about what’s at stake.
The Critical Role of Church Mission Statements
Not having a mission statement can be a problem. And that’s because almost everyone in your church has their own idea of what the church is about.
Think that through for a moment. If you have 100 people attending your church, you could have up to 100 competing visions for your church. If you have 1,000 people, that’s 1,000 competing visions. No wonder ministry can seem complex.
That’s why developing clear, concise, and compelling mission, vision, and value statements matters so much.Not having a church mission statement can be a problem. And that’s because almost everyone in your church has their own idea of what your church is about.CLICK TO TWEET
A clear church mission statement will unite 1,000 competing ideas of what the church is about into a single idea.
Clarity also provides a structure for decision-making, aligns the congregation’s efforts, and creates a story that can motivate and encourage a growing church.
It defines the church’s identity and, most healthily, will set your church apart from other local churches and even national ministries. Clarity will help you find your congregation’s unique role in the broader body of Christ.
With that said, let’s start with how to craft a compelling vision statement.A clear church mission statement will unite 1,000 competing ideas of what the church is about into a single idea.CLICK TO TWEET
The Difference Between Vision, Mission, and Values
While there are a variety of opinions about the distinction between mission and vision statements, here are some simple definitions that can guide you.
Where you are going. A vision statement is a single-sentence statement that highlights the major, long-term change your church aims to achieve.
What you do. A mission statement is a single-sentence statement that describes what your church does and guides you in deciding your priorities, tasks, and roles.
How You Behave. A values statement is typically a series of 3-7 memorable statements expressing the behavior you encourage and the church culture you create.
Creating a Compelling Mission Statement for Your Church
Creating a compelling mission statement begins with careful reflection on your church’s ultimate hopes, dreams, and goals.
While you want to involve your team, the process usually involves significant work by the senior pastor.
Begin discussions with three to seven of your most pivotal leaders (leadership team, staff, or board members, depending on your church structure). In the meeting(s), create a framework for crafting the vision statement.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- What ultimate impact do we want our church to have?
- How do we see the future of our church in 5, 10, or 20 years? Where will we be? What will have changed?
- What spiritual legacy do we want to leave in our community through our church?
- Why do we do what we do?
- How will our vision inspire and motivate our team and our community?
You might create a first draft as a team. Or the senior pastor can take some time alone and present a first draft to the team. Ultimately, your vision statement should be concise, memorable, and inspiring. Avoid jargon and be specific about what you want to achieve.
Define Your Mission
Start by asking why your church exists. What is the unique role it plays in the lives of its members and the wider community?
The answers to the following questions will help you articulate a clear and compelling mission statement reflecting your congregation’s heart.
- What do we do?
- What is the fundamental purpose or reason for our organization’s existence?
- What unique spiritual and community needs are our church called to address?
- Is our mission statement clear, concise, and easily understood by all stakeholders?
- Does our mission resonate with both our church community and those we seek to reach?
Identify Your Values
Identifying your core values will take longer than crafting your vision and mission statement. But it’s just as important.
A values statement should be distinct enough that it doesn’t sound like a generic set of values you’d see anywhere (e.g., “Excellence” or “Integrity”).
Nor should it be a statement of beliefs. Of course, you value prayer and Scripture. That doesn’t need to be in your value statements.
Instead, you should seek to craft value statements that express the behavior you want your team and members to exhibit and the culture you want to create.
Rather than asking a host of questions, here’s a shortcut to figuring out your values.
Step 1: Begin With WHO Embodies Your Values
Rather than start with abstract ideas, start in a surprising place. Begin with who embodies the best of your church culture.
In other words, ask your team. “Of all the people who attend our church, who best embodies what we’re about and WANT to be about in the future?”
Immediately, you’ll think of people. Write their names down.
Step 2: List the People Who DON’T Embody Your Values
Next, create a second list of people who, honestly, don’t embody our mission, vision, and values.
Or, if you want to put it more positively, who are the people you wish would change or leave your church? Write their names down (and then burn the list).
The principle? Figuring out who you value will help you discover what you value.
Step 3: Isolate the Unique Principles
As you review the list of names, start writing down the reasons why they make such great members or, of course, why they don’t.
You’ll end up with a list of characteristics that can become the first draft of your values.
Using the tips I’ll outline below, we turned characteristics like humility, selflessness, passion, and a desire to serve into memorable values like “Take the Low Place,” “Make It Happen,” and “Pursue Health.”
Make It Memorable
It’s one thing to figure out what you want to say. It’s another thing to say it in a way that makes it memorable and repeatable.
Here are some ideas on how to craft a killer bottom line. I outline some principles to help you create phrases that resonate.
A church mission statement should be clear, concise, and memorable. It should be easy to understand and remember so that it can inspire and guide your congregation in their everyday lives.
Remember, a good church mission statement is more than a slogan; it carries so much weight and charts a trajectory for the direction of your church.A church mission statement should be clear, concise, and memorable.CLICK TO TWEET
Review and Revise
The final step for you and your team is to review and revise your options.
It might even be a good idea to expand the circle designing the statements a little wider to get feedback and input. You’ll immediately see which statements are resonating, what’s clear, what’s confusing, and how to narrow in on a final iteration.
Beyond your initial versions, you’ll want to review your vision, mission, and value statements every 3-5 years to see if they’re still the best expression for your church.
Church Mission Statement Examples
To illustrate the power of a well-crafted mission statement, let’s look at some examples from some churches all over the United States:
- “To lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ.” – Life.Church (Edmond, OK)
- “We exist to Reach Up, Reach Out, and Reach In.” – Fellowship Church (Grapevine, TX)
- “We exist so that people far from God will be raised to life in Christ.” – Elevation Church (Charlotte, NC)
- “Helping people take next steps to love God, love people, and change the world.” – Willow Creek Community Church (South Barrington, IL)
- “Connecting people to Jesus and one another.” – Southeast Christian Church (Louisville, KY)
- “To urgently lead people to say yes to Jesus and His purposes for their lives.” – Saddleback Church (Lake Forest, CA)
- “To glorify God by making disciples through the Gospel of Jesus.” – Hope Church (Gilford, NH)
And here are some examples of church mission statements I brainstormed using ChatGPT:
- “To build a Christian community where non-religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.”
- “To glorify God by making disciples through the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
- “To grow in love of God and neighbor, reach new people, and heal a broken world.”
- “To create a movement of disciple-making disciples.”
- “To inspire people to live like Jesus.”
- “To love God, love people, and make disciples.”
- “To be a Biblically functioning community of believers.”
- “To help people find and follow Jesus Christ.”
Nonprofit Organization Mission Statement Examples
While churches tend to have short, memorable mission statements, here’s a sampling of Christian mission statement examples from large Christian nonprofits.
World Vision: “World Vision is an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice, and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.”
Compassion International: “In response to the Great Commission, Compassion International exists as an advocate for children, to release them from their spiritual, economic, social, and physical poverty and enable them to become responsible and fulfilled Christian adults.”
Habitat for Humanity: “Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.”
The Salvation Army: “The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
American Bible Society: “The mission of American Bible Society is to make the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so all people may experience its life-changing message.”
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association: “The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association exists to support and extend the evangelistic calling and ministries of Billy and Franklin Graham by proclaiming the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to all we can by every effective means available and by equipping the church and others to do the same.”