Does Your Ministry Know its Mission?
Have you ever had one of those moments where you completely forget someone’s name? You can remember all sort of other things about them, but you can’t remember their name.
I was in a meeting with a client recently and we were talking about their mission. It was interesting because we were talking about all the things related to it and not the mission itself. The individuals I was with could describe all kinds of things that had happened within the organization — their hopes and dreams, stories of transformation, etc. I asked what the mission of the organization was and all of a sudden, everyone froze. None of them were on the same page for what the mission was. They all had a good sense of the culture and the fact that they wanted to be about transformation, but there wasn’t anything truly unifying what they were talking. Everyone quickly realized the no one actually knew the mission of the organization including the leadership. I stressed that this was okay and is part of why we work together so that we can figure these things out. Everyone laughed a little but there was also frustration. One of the individuals said that they had gone through an exercise with some consultants in the past and landed on some key statements for the mission that everyone agreed on. They realized they had spent a lot of time letting someone else develop all of this for them and they couldn’t even remember what it was. They could remember lots of things around it, but couldn’t remember the core piece that should be the unifying voice about their direction.
Nailing Down Your Mission
This is a lot like those moments where we forget someone’s name. This happens often in organizations when it comes to their direction.
The mission within the ministry is often combined with a unique calling the God has put on the heart. As a church, mission was always comes down to evangelism and discipleship, almost always derived from Matthew 28, and then we put our own spin on it. For many nonprofits, the ultimate goal is to be a transformative agent, to make an impact in the world, and make it better.
So, how do you figure your mission? The answer to this is not easy, but it is attainable.
Here are some things to evaluate and work on as you navigate creating focus in the direction of your organization.
There’s a difference between a personal calling and the mission of an organization. A personal calling on someone’s life is very unique to them. But the mission of an organization needs to be owned and shared by multiple people in order for growth and progress to be seen. This means a shared vision, shared mission, shared culture, shared values, and ultimately shared purpose are critical.
You need to accept that not everyone is heading the same direction that you are. Your job is to bring those who are heading in same direction together so that a movement can be formed. It’s also your job to take those who don’t fit in and either mentor them into a place where they do or graciously find a place for them to fit somewhere else. At the end of the day, your job needs revolve around the direction of your organization, and the people around you will make the future picture the reality.
Aim for clarity. Make things easy for people to remember, including yourself. Conceptual and vague conversations are common in a senior leadership setting, but in order for people to follow you, all of those big ideas have to be packaged into something that is concise, easy to remember, and inspirational.
Don’t just talk our word for it. Ask your team members what your ministry’s mission is. Not just your right hand men, but your volunteers and administrative staff. Don’t let the answers scare you. Let them push you to creating a clear mission statement your team can celebrate.