Its Friday, its snowing and I’ve finally had a chance to start reading The Growing Church: Keys to Congregational Vitality, our February UU Growth Blog Book of the Month! Well, given my schedule lets call it the book of the season.
I want to start with Chapter 3, MISSION, by the Rev. Thom Belote, editor of this volume. We can go back to the earlier chapters.
In his essay Rev. Belote challenges each of us look at our congregation’s mission statement. Inspired by his challenge, here is a quick test for you. Without digging through old board reports to find yours, can you do the following?
In 30 seconds or less please recite
your congregations mission statement.
Yeah, I couldn’t do it either. Not for my home congregation. Not the congregation where my wife serves as minister. I’m still working on perfecting my recitation of the UU principles and purposes and Thom wants me to throw a mission statement into the mix?
Before you go looking for your congregations mission statement – ours is printed in the Sunday Bulletin — take a moment and write down as much of it as you can. What DO you remember? And do you know where your mission statement lives?
Fortunately for me and those of you who failed today’s recitation, Belote states that it is not that we are bad members, but that we have poorly crafted mission statements. If your key leaders can’t recite your mission statement, Belote says you don’t really have one.
If your minister or your key lay leaders can’t recite the mission statement from memory, then you don’t actually have a mission statement. If the majority of the members in your congregation can’t recite the mission statement, you still don’t actually have one. When crafting a mission statement, the goal should be that if someone visits your church once, she should be able to say what it is when asked on the way out to the parking lot.
He raises a good point. And that is that your congregation should have one – a point. What is your congregation here for? What’s your mission? It is crucial for long term health, growth and vitality that you know what this is. It allows everything you do, your work, your ministry, your decision making to come into alignment.
Think about a magnet. Everything is aligned and as a result it generates this amazing field that is able to impact the world around it. Some things are pushed away, others repelled. Bring another magnet clse and it snaps into alignment. Its beautiful thing.
Without that alignment you don’t have a magnet, you don’t have power. Instead you have a paper weight.
Congregations? Same thing. No clear mission, no agreement, no clarity, no decisive action, no power.
I have a mission statement for my UU work. How does this measure up to the Belote Test?
I want to make sure everyone on Earth who would be a UU if they only knew we existed finds out we exist, is able to find a congregation nearby to join, and I want to help our congregations be healthy, growing, vital communities so they are ready to receive them.
What do you think of Belote’s mission statement challenge? Feel free to share your congregation’s mission statement in the comments below. It may be helpful to see some really good one as and some mission statement disasters.
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