05 December 2012

Clear Mission

We are disciples of Jesus Christ,
called to grow in Christ and to invite all to follow him.

Every worship service at the congregation I serve begins and ends with this mission statement as part of its liturgy.  I love our mission statement: it offers both an inward and an outward focus, is clear that we are about the work of being disciples (not members), and in its brevity and simplicity it is both wide in scope and easy to remember.  By now I imagine folks who worship at St Petri twice a month have memorized our mission statement:  how many of our churches can say the same? (Note: that's an observation, not a comparative statement)

I'm traditionally leery about overplaying the effectiveness of mission statements, etc.  We all have a tendency to engage in magic bullet thinking about such things, as if composing a good mission statement is the one key element missing from a church equation and, upon completion of said task, the pews will magically fill, the budget will be exceeded and the pastor's kids will behave in worship.  The only magic bullet that will make those things happen is hard work, particularly the last one.  But there is a place for a good mission statement, and that place is most certainly not a once-every-three-years Council retreat where we navel-gaze for a Saturday and promptly forget everything we put together.

I hope that incorporating this elegant little statement into each and every one of our public worship gatherings brings a continual awareness that we are about discipleship, growth and invitation.  Yes, membership is important: God's church needs members to carry out its work in the world.  But our mission is not to get more members for St. Petri Lutheran Church:  our mission is to follow Jesus and invite others to do the same.  Our mission is God, both through our congregation and in other ways also.

Does your congregation have a mission statement?  Do your people know that mission?  If not, find ways to incorporate it into everything you do: worship, letterhead, emails, the works.  Be clear about who you are and why you're here: you will do yourselves and the world around you a great favor.

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