Monday, December 09, 2013

Does a Church Need a Mission Statement?

The River Raisin in Monroe
Over the years I have been in some very long church leadership meetings where we tried to formulate a Mission Statement. Some of these meetings (a few even led by myself) reminded me of a band I was in. We were writing songs and practicing and getting ready to play before others. But we didn't have a name? This proved to be our biggest problem - what to call us? What name would capture the essence of who we were as a band? We could not think of one. This was not because our band-essence was so omnidimensional. Whenever a suggestion came up it just didn't sound right. Maybe we should call ourselves "Nameless?" Or, maybe not have a name at all, and refer to it as "that band over there that John plays in," or something uninspiring like that.

If a church does have a Mission Statement, it needs to be broader than, e.g., "The Friendly Church." Because I can find "friendly" in a lot of other places. I can sometimes even find "friendlier" in non-church environments. Actually, there was a church near us in Southeast Michigan that once advertised itself in the newspapers as "The Friendliest Church in America." These ads stayed in the paper until the church split and the pastor left.

A Mission Statement can be too boxy. Too limiting. A Mission Statement can delimit the possibilities. God cannot be contained in a box, nor by a Mission Statement. (BTW yes, Redeemer does have a Mission Statement - Heal the sick, deliver the oppressed, raise the dead, and proclaim the Good News about Jesus and His Kingdom. That covers a lot of bases, and was valuable and inspirational when we announced this to our people.)

Your church has a name. Engage in the Jesus-Mission first. This will take you to places no name or title or self-designation can predict. You won't have to advertise this or have long meetings trying to give this a title.