January 6, 2012

The Value of a Mission Statement

Does your parish have a mission statement?

Our Book of Common Prayer provides a mission statement for us all: “The mission of the church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” (Book of Common Prayer, pg. 855.)

Actually, that’s a very “visionary” mission. It describes a desired outcome. It provides strategic direction for all of us.

With that clear direction, perhaps it is not critical for your parish to create its own “mission statement.” However, important benefits result when parish leadership takes time to prayerfully reflect on how their particular congregation is living out the mission. The focus does not need to be on how well you are doing it, but simply how. What gifts for ministry are distinctive about your parish and how are those gifts utilized to benefit and grow your corner of the kingdom?

By recognizing your parish’s unique and strongest gifts for ministry you are describing the heart of your identity. When you articulate how you use those gifts in some sort of statement about mission, you create a tool to communicate the personality, passion, and purpose of your parish. This energizes and provides direction to those already there, and creates an invitation for those seeking a community like yours.

If you already have a mission statement, but no one really remembers what it is, taking some time to prayerfully reflect on it is a great exercise for a Vestry retreat or even a brief program for a broader parish audience. A Lenten series to explore “how St. _____ Episcopal Church lives its mission” is another idea.

I love seeing how various parishes have articulated their mission. Please feel free to share your parish mission statement as a comment below (be sure to include the name and location of your parish if you’d like us to know that). Why or how is your statement helpful to your parish?