Skip to content

Reviving Church Mission and Vision

After more than twenty-five years of working with churches, I am still surprised at the responses of some leaders to questions concerning the mission and vision of their local congregations. Having worked in both worlds of sacred and secular, I realize that understanding mission and vision is just as much a conundrum for secular organizations as it is for faith-based institutions. There have been various trends in the nonprofit sector where some organizations have eliminated the need for an organizational vision statement in exchange for a short purpose statement. Others have retained two separate mission and vision statements. Some have also incorporated a purpose statement into the mission. Whatever your preference may be, there has been much confusion about how these concepts function in various institutions, including the local church. Due to the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, every corporate entity needs to evaluate its current mission, vision, purpose, and strategies to see if they are aligned and effective in the current climate. Nevertheless, this blogpost focuses on pastors as servant leaders who seek to revive and recast their mission, purpose, and vision since the onset of the pandemic. 

What is your church’s mission?

As a consultant, one of the first things I ask pastors is to tell me about the church’s mission and vision. Two of the most common answers I have heard from church leaders concerning the mission question are as follows: 

  1. “According to scripture we are preaching the Gospel and making disciples of the nations” (Matt. 28:16-20 NIV).
  2. “We are equipping the saints for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:11-13 NIV).

Other churches have taken great lengths to craft mission and vision statements. Yet, if you ask the congregants to recite it, they respond by looking on their phones for the church website or taking a stab at it by using an appropriate Scripture that reflects the mission of the universal Church. Looking at our cell phones to recall the mission statement is not a bad strategy in a world where our “smart phones” have taken over the job our memories used to serve. Quoting the mission of the universal Church through Scripture is probably more appealing since it demonstrates that many congregants have internalized the mission of the universal Church. 

What is the vision for your church?

The vision question further complicates the issue since many do not understand the difference between the vision and mission of any corporate entity. Even before the Covid-19 epidemic, the vision question had become a challenge for most pastors since many congregants were already starting to leave the local church for various reasons. The spread of the virus and the shutting down of in-person attendance put tremendous stress on the vision of church leaders. A recent study by Barna reports that 38% of U.S. pastors have thought about quitting full-time ministry last year. Pastors, who once had a vision for their church, have become burnt out due to the further breakdown in church engagement and attendance post-pandemic. 

What is the difference between mission and vision statements?

Your church’s mission statement should describe what it does for its various constituents. When revising or crafting your initial mission statement, leaders should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What overarching service are you currently providing for the local community and beyond?
  • How are you providing the service? In other words, what programs or activities are you providing, including the Sunday service? 
  • Whom are you serving?  

A vision statement provides a picture of the church’s future ambitions. It is the aspirational goals and desires that the local church as a body seeks to pursue. Some of the questions leaders need to answer when developing a church vision are:

  • What would your church look like if Jesus were to return in this generation?
  • How does the Lord want to use your local body to advance his kingdom?
  • What is the most significant impact your local church seeks to make? 

The church’s vision propels the direction and strategies of church planning. Although vision statements are often written in the present tense, from a biblical standpoint, the vision is for an appointed time in the future (Hab. 2:3).      

What is a purpose statement? 

Since strategic planning has become the norm for many private companies and nonprofit corporations, it has given rise to the idea of the purpose statement. The purpose statement describes the reason or reasons an organization exists. Some leadership experts would argue that the reasons for a corporation’s existence should be included in the mission statement. The purpose statement was designed to facilitate the focus on developing strategic initiatives around the organization’s purpose. 

What is the difference between mission and purpose statements?

The mission statement is essentially what your church does, whereas the purpose statement describes why you exist. A compelling example of a church’s purpose and mission statements combined comes from New Life Covenant Southeast, located in Chicago, Illinois. It reads as follows: Our mission is to be a life-changing ministry reflecting the Glory of God through worship, outreach, discipleship, and servanthood. The purpose statement (or why they exist) is to be a life-changing ministry that reflects the Glory of God. The mission segment of the statement is what they do, which is worship, outreach, discipleship, and servanthood. What is also implied in this statement is that the church does specific things within its spheres of influence. Consequently, they are serving those who come into contact with the church on some sort of regular basis.    

Clarity of mission, purpose, and vision

One of the most important jobs of any leader is vision casting. With many pastors who are either experiencing burnout or considering leaving the ministry, clarity of mission and vision should be the key areas of focus. Jesus often asked spiritually penetrating questions that connected with the individual’s source of pain and realigned their desires with his mission and vision for the universal Church. For example, in Acts 26:12-23, the Apostle Paul shares how his encounter with Jesus realigned his mission and vision with God’s mission and vision for the universal Church. Paul’s encounter with Jesus begins with a question, and then Jesus goes directly to Paul’s (who was also known as Saul) pain point, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14b, NIV). 

It is through Paul’s journey on the road to Damascus that he was given his role in God’s mission, vision, and purpose for the universal Church. Paul was appointed by God for a specific purpose (the reason for his existence), to carry out the mission of laying the foundation for the future of God’s vision for the universal Church. This pattern is repeated throughout Scripture concerning God’s unveiling of an individual’s purpose and how it fits into the overall mission and vision of the Church.  

Led by the Holy Spirit, IPC’s one-to-one coaching program helps church leaders to reconnect with the reasons they entered the ministry in the first place. Many pastors and church leaders are hesitant to share their struggles with peers and church organizational groups. As an experienced, Spirit-filled, faith-based leadership expert who is licensed and ordained—my coaching services offer pastors privacy, professional and spiritual guidance. At IPC, we help pastors renew their passion for local church mission and vision. Schedule a free consultation to see if IPC is a good fit for you as a servant leader. Also, listen to our podcast episodes on mission and vision.

 For more information on coaching for churches, check out our page for churches. There is no obligation or sales pressure during the consultation. Also, you will not receive an onslaught of emails that force you into a sales funnel. My philosophy is to provide flexible offers that meet the needs of clients. To learn more about how coaching benefits everyone, check out this video below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by TranslatePress