First of all, I’m not opposed to mission statements. There. I’ve said that. However, having said it, I hasten to add there is little energy in a mission statement.
“Loving God, Loving People”
“Empowering People To Serve People”
“Worshipping A Caring God In A Caring Community”
Nothing wrong with those or a million others like them. VERY like them. The problem with such mission statements is their absolute lack of energy. Mission statements keep a church from jumping the track. Vision drives the train. Vision is the engine. Absent vision, the greatest mission statement in the world will gradually devolve into hardly more than a plaque on the wall or a banner hanging in the church auditorium.
Vision is exactly what it sounds like. When we look ahead a year, or five years or ten years, what do we SEE. That is vision and that is the energy source of leadership. Yes, we want to love God and love people. Absolutely. The question is, in doing that, what will we look like in the future? What is the vision for our facilities, our finances and our membership? Where are we headed?
The mission of the Hebrew people in the Land of Goshen was to be as faithful to God as they could be even in the context of slavery. The vision that energized them to leave 430 years of slavery was the Holy Land. Moses, their visionary leader, kept that picture ever before their eye. He described it vividly. He did not just say, “A swell place.” He said, “The Land Of Milk And Honey.”
No one will ever see the vision as well and as clearly as the leader. On the other hand, others will see the vision hardly at all unless the leader explains it, describes it and keeps it before the eyes of his followers. It is among the most important responsibilities of the leader to first of all grasp the vision, to really see it almost as if it already existed, and then to become the vision’s salesman-in-chief.
When the leader gets bored with the vision the air is out of the balloon. The energy is gone even though that venerated mission statement still hangs on the wall.
Again, I’m not opposed to having a mission statement. Your organization should have one and it should be known and respected by all. But the energy, the dynamic power that gets them up and moving; THAT lies in the vision. Your followers need to know that the mission is important and that it is important to you, but that can become stale and theoretical. It is when VISION fairly bursts from the leader, when everyone in the organization knows where they’re headed; it is then they feel the energy that will get them through the rough spots and on to whatever your Promised Land is.