You have heard leadership experts say it: Every church should have a mission statement. Wait…or is that vision statement? What is the difference? I am confused…or at least I was. But I found out the difference between a mission and a vision for our church. Maybe it will help you as well.
One of the most important things for all churches to understand is why they exist. Until a church understands this they will never live out their true potential. Each church has it’s own DNA much like each human being has a unique DNA that makes them who they are. And who they are will determine what they do.
My church leadership & I went through a one year vision process through the Assemblies of God revitalization program called Healthy Church Network. One of our tasks was to come up with a vision statement, a mission statement and a list of values. As our team discussed these things, it was clear that we understood our values (our church culture), but were not really sure of our mission and vision. Dr. Ron McMannus and the Healthy Church helped clarify that for us. Here is what I learned:
Our Mission – Mission of the church does not change. It is the mission Jesus gave his church. It is the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and the great commandment (Matthew 22:37). We are to make disciples, to love God and to love people. No matter your denomination, style or location, we all share this mission. So here is what we came up with: New Life Center’s mission is to make disciples who love God, love people and reach others for Christ.
Our Vision – The vision the unique role that our church plays in the body of Christ. No two churches are the same. So what makes your church unique? What are you best at? Why did God want your church to exist and why did He call you to pastor it? For us we identified three things that made us unique from the church across the street. So our vision is: New Life Center’s vision is to be a Spirit-filled, multi-generational & community-focused church.
For us our vision statement helped us define our DNA:
- Spirit Filled – Our church would be a place that emphasized the Pentecostal tradition of Spirit filled worship and culture.
- Multigenerational – Our church is a place where every generation can feel at home.
- Community Focused – Our Church values partnerships with existing community organizations over attractional outreach events.
Many other churches with us in this HCN process picked vision statements like: “Love God, Love People” or “Connect, Grow, Serve”. While the application of that can be very useful as a church and easy to remember, it doesn’t necessarily reveal the church’s identity. All churches should “love God and love People.” For us, it ultimately didn’t help us define what God wanted us to be because it was too generic. Our vision was what we wanted to be. Our vision statement is the standard by which we can determine if are the Church God wants us to be. No matter our size, if we fulfill this vision, we are what God wants us to be.
To me this is the difference difference in vision and mission. From the standpoint of mission, we all look the same. In our vision, we each are different to meet the different needs of people and our community. As an average pastor, I would encourage you to take your key people through a process of discovering your unique vision for your church. God made you unique! Embrace who you are and what He is calling your church to become.