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Crafting a Better Mission Statement

It’s just two words long.

“Spreading ideas.”

ted-logoThat’s the new mission statement for TED, a unique organization known for its thought-instilling conferences and powerful, mini-presentations on Technology, Entertainment and Design. The company’s former mission statement was “Ideas worth spreading.”

Still, TED does have a more comprehensive understanding of what that means.

“TED conferences bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less).

Do you know what your mission statement is?

Do others around you?

Can you say it out loud? Can they?

Thom Schultz has chronicled on his blog more than once about the importance of a mission statement in relationship to a church’s sense of purpose. The documentary When God Left The Building has a telling moment about how a struggling church might need to pay attention to its own verbiage (or lack thereof):

mission-statementI’ve worked hard over the years at clarifying and designing vision/mission statements within churches and ministries I’ve been in. My initial drive was to say everything in a sentence that seemed to go on forever. I later took some advice from Peter Drucker who pointed out that if it can’t fit onto a t-shirt, it’s too long. The wave of today is “the shorter the better,” as long as it doesn’t overgeneralize nor pigeonhole the initiative.

Here are some notable companies and their spin on a mission statement:

  • Smithsonian: The increase and diffusion of knowledge. (6 words)
  • USO lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families. (9 words)
  • Livestrong: To inspire and empower people affected by cancer. (8)
  • Invisible Children: To bring a permanent end to LRA atrocities. (8)
  • The Humane Society: Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty. (4)
  • Wounded Warrior Project: To honor and empower wounded warriors. (6)
  • Oxfam: To create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice. (10)
  • Best Friends Animal Society: A better world through kindness to animals. (7)
  • CARE: To serve individuals and families in the poorest communities in the world. (12)
  • The Nature Conservancy: To conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. (11)
  • JDRF: To find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research. (14)
  • Environmental Defense Fund: To preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. (10)
  • Public Broadcasting System (PBS): To create content that educates, informs and inspires. (8)
  • National Wildlife Federation: Inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. (9)

What does this mean for you?

go-4_wide_t-1024x576In my opinion, all churches share the same biblical mission… so your mission statement should reflect the biblical values in Scripture. I classify a vision statement as how it uniquely plays out in your context… “This is how us living out the mission will look for us.”

Maybe none of this matters, or maybe it does. My suggestion is take your church’s primary statement and add the word “students” to it. For example, “We will reach the lost and broken in our area for Jesus” could become “We will reach the lost and broken students in our area for Jesus.”

That said, what are you trying to communicate? Do you believe it should be shorter than 20 words? 15? 10?

If you can’t, might a tagline sum it up?

The end goal of crafting a better mission statement isn’t to be clever… but to clarify what it means to follow Jesus so that others might join you in serving Him.


What is your church’s mission or vision statement? How do you or others feel about it?

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Crafting a Better Mission Statement

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