Photo by Casey Clingan on Unsplash

Megachurches Don’t Know How To Write a Mission Statement

Here are seven examples:

Hillsong Church NYC is an awesome church. Love hearing about their success in New York. However, their mission statement is too wordy, too long, and therefore not memorable. Here it is:

Hillsong Church exists to reach and influence the world by building a large Christ-centered, Bible-based church, changing mindsets and empowering people to lead and impact in every sphere of life.

Vous Church in South Florida is an awesome church that has experienced rapid growth over the last several years. However, the mission statement at the top of their website is a combination of two value statements. Here’s what I mean:

People are our heart and Jesus is our message.

This statement further down their homepage is much better and written in active voice:

To bring people that are far from God close to him.

The City Church in Seattle is another awesome church. However, they do not have a mission statement listed on their official website. The do have a list of several value statements. I tracked down a mission statement via Facebook and it’s decent. Here it is:

To show you who Jesus is.

Elevation Church in North Carolina is another awesome church. Kudos to them. They’ve formulated a thoughtful mission statement but it’s passive and not active. Here it is:

Elevation Church exists so that people far from God will be raised to life in Christ.

Lakewood Church is Houston, TX is another megachurch. I couldn’t find an expressed mission statement on their website or social media. I did however find a decent mission statement for their missions ministry. Here it is:

Reaching the world for Christ with a message of hope and salvation.

Embrace Church HQ’d in South Dakota is another fast growing megachurch. A video and webpage on the church’s official website, states the vision of the church can be summed up by four points: Encounter, compassion, embrace and run. These are great value statements and objectives as belief shapes behavior. However, these are not a true mission or vision statement.

Fresh Life Church HQ’d in Montana is an inspirational church. They show a vision statement on their website that is actually a mission statement (according to my definition below). Here it is:

We exist to see those stranded in sin, find life and liberty in Jesus Christ.

Mission, vision and value statements:

First, a mission statement should express why the organization exists. You’re answering the question, “Why do we exist?” Your response should be simply stated and memorable. It should always be written/repeated in active versus passive voice.

Second, a vision statement should express the destination or target or bullseye of the organization. You’re answering the question, “What will it look like?” Again your response should be simply stated and memorable. For a church there should be a supernatural gap expressed in your vision statement, meaning you must dream big.

charity: water’s approach speaks to me. Now, here’s why the organization exists:

charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.

And here’s the supernatural gap expressed in their vision statement:

Reinvent charity for a new generation.

The organization’s ultimate hope is to reinvent charity for a new generation. They’re going to do this by solving the water crisis on this planet. Now that’s a compelling mission and vision!

“Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.” Habakkuk 2:2 (ESV)

Third, value statements are the beliefs that drive an organization’s behaviors. Value statements are the non-negotiables for all stakeholders. Again these should be simply stated and memorable. For a church these are biblical beliefs but distinct from beliefs ABOUT the bible. Value statements also help us know the culture we want to cultivate in our organization or church.

Elevation Church (as does Fresh Life Church) refers to their value statements as their “code.” Here are three examples from Elevation that could then drop down into objectives, goals and action items:

  1. Jesus is the center.
  2. We believe big and start small.
  3. We are contributors, not consumers.

Why does a church exist?

Jesus seemed to believe his mission was “to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10 NIV) To say it another way, “to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38 NIV) More simply, “to save the world.” (John 3:17 NIV) How would he do it? Proclaim good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, proclaim recovery of sight for the blind, and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18–19 NIV) These were his objectives.

Jesus told his followers to “make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19 NIV) Elsewhere he’s quoted as commanding them to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15 NIV)

A church exists for the expressed purposes mentioned above. It cannot rightfully call itself a church in the way of Jesus if what’s stated above is not it’s expressed reason for existing. A church mission statement should be a restatement of the Great Commission contextualized for a specific group of people and place.

Now, read the mission statements above again. Do they efficiently and effectively communicate just that?

Conclusion

Many megachurches have done an excellent job at cultivating a culture of gathering to sing praises and preach sermons. This culture is reflected in the above mission and vision statements. This article is not meant to be a jab at megachurches. This is a lament. Here’s what I mean:

“What is problematic for many megachurches and their influence on the Christian subculture is that Jesus, our leader, commanded his disciples, and all disciples thereafter, to cultivate a disciple-making culture.” Zachary Hamilton (Megachurches Don’t Know How To Write a Mission Statement)

Do people have to be introduced to Jesus? Is that our mission? Or is he already having a relationship with them — we’re just a friend who gets to tag along. The biblical reason a church exists is to help people not just meet him (through scripture and embodied through a church) and praise him but to actually become like him in the unique way only they can — that’s disciple-making, in essence.

Question

If you were to craft the perfect mission and vision statements for a church, how would each read?