There Are Mission Statements and Then There Are Mission Statements

Mission Statement.  Vision Statement.  Every organization is supposed to have one – or both.

All week long, a meeting that was held with and for the volunteers at my church a week ago tomorrow has been rattling around in my head and in my heart.

I work nights and after only a couple of hours of sleep this morning, my mind would not stop rerunning the meeting and its significance to me.  Since “it” would not let me relax and clear my mind, I decided I had better get up and write this post.

Pastor Jeff (Burr) led this meeting of volunteers with a focus on sharing his, and the senior staff at church, “vision” for the near and not-so-near future of Crossroads Community Church.  One of the things introduced was a new logo for all the things that will be generated from CCC.  It will also include our Mission Statement.

Pastor Jeff expounded on how many organizations, both Christian and secular, private and public, big and small – all have a Mission Statement.  A paragraph or even a page or two of what the vision, or goals, or “mission” of the company and its employees is all about.

You know, “To serve the best customers in the world,” or “to make more money that God while making the customer feel good about giving us all his disposable income” (okay, it might not read exactly like that one).  But the point is there is usually a lot of flowery phrases that at the end of orientation are all but forgotten and “let’s move on to the next item on your training list.”

Oh, it will be posted on the bulletin board for all to see, right next to the notice regarding minimum wage, who your union rep might be, this year’s holiday schedule, and the next planned sexual harassment training course – no problem; I know how to do that without any special training.

If you were to go around and ask the employee, or even in most cases the management, what their mission state is, most would give you a blank stare, or at best a Reader’s Digest version of said statement.  Ask them what it means to them, and you would probably be back to the blank stare.

Pastor Jeff further explained that when coming up with the condensed, brief Mission Statement for Crossroads Community Church, he felt at first that it cheated us somehow by not being longer and more involved – oh, did I mention that the mission statement for Crossroads is only four words?  That’s right, four words:  Celebrate.  Connect.  Serve.  Share.  Now that’s a mouthful of vocabulary, ain’t it?

It’s like Pastor Jeff had read “Orwell’s Rules for Writers.”

(1)  If it’s possible to cut out a word, cut it out;  (2) Never use a long word where a short one will do;  (3) Never use a passive when you can use an active (word);  (4) Avoid foreign and technical words;  (5) Never use a metaphor that you’ve seen it print; and (6) Break any of these rules to avoid something outlandish.

You’ll notice it this post that I’m not doing a real good job of following Orwell’s rules.  But that’s a post for another time.

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”  ~ Thomas Jefferson

I like that.  Haven’t learned to apply it as well as I could, but as you can see from our Mission Statement, Pastor Jeff nailed it.

There are volumes of words and meaning summed up in each of those four words.

Celebrate.  This is mostly the Sunday worship experience.  It includes the usual standard church-formatted procedures:  greetings, prayer, “celebrating” in song and worship, a message by the pastor sharing what God has laid on his heart to bring to the congregation (in this we at Crossroads are truly blessed – from our current senior pastor (Jeff Burr), to the pastor ‘emeritus’ (Jeff’s father and previous senior pastor, Dan Burr), to guest pastors like Bob Orr and Steve Hays.)  Wow, that’s a lot of parentheses [ ( ) ] !!

Celebrate is not only a Sunday morning and/or Wednesday evening thing; it is an all week long frame of mind, hopefully dominating your thoughts and processes throughout the week as you further seek to be in celebration with God, your family and friends, your co-workers, and people you don’t even know but who see something “different” in you.

What?  Monday through Saturday others don’t know or can’t tell you’re a ‘Christian’?  They don’t see you in celebration?  You’re not singing songs about Jesus along with the CD player in your car?  We need to talk.

Which brings us to the second word in our Mission Statement:

Connect. Connecting is about much more than just being with others at church and asking, “How are you?” or “How was your week?”, and then not really paying attention to the answer, especially if the response is just a quick, “Oh, I’m doing good,” or “Hey, great, how about you?”

Connecting at church should help you know more about each other, more than a surface patina of shared intent (here to worship, to celebrate), or just catching up on what each other has been doing since last Sunday’s get together.  Connecting is that act (remember, active, not passive) of really being in rapport with and wanting to be available to help, to serve (but that’s another Mission Statement word we’ll get to shortly), to know what’s happening in someone else’s life and not only being concerned with your own.

Connect also means to be reaching out to others beyond your church’s walls.  When was the last time you asked a friend to come attend church and worship with you?  Do you have friends at work that might be offended if you asked them to stop by a check out this awesome church you get to attend?  Take a risk – ask anyway.  You might be surprised to find out they’ve been wondering about where you celebrate.

Pretty amazing, huh?  All that, and we’re only half way through the four word Mission Statement.  And what we’ve discussed so far does not even come close to covering all that Pastor Jeff shared about these two words.  And if you think about it, with an open mind and a prayerful heart, you would probably come up with dozens more reasons and explanations of what Celebrate and Connect mean to you.

Serve is the third word in our Mission Statement.  It also has many obvious and nuanced meanings.  It is, of course, serving our master and savior Jesus Christ.  At the heart of the matter, this is my ultimate purpose, to be here to serve my God, to be an ‘Ambassador for Christ’ as Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason says, to be available as told in 1 Peter 3:15 (look it up if you don’t remember), although that is also part of the 4th word in the Mission Statement.

But we not only serve God, we serve one another.  We serve fellow Christians, make ourselves available to our friends and co-workers, seek to be of service to anyone who needs our help, our support, our friendship – and we strive to do all this without thought of reward or enumeration.  Humbly.  Sometimes even sacrificially.  But to serve has no greater calling in the kingdom of God.

And finally, we discussed the fourth and last word of our Mission Statement.  Share.  This is again part of 1 Peter 3:15 (But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,…) Sharing is not only a command, a recommendation, it is the underlying premise of being a Christian, of seeking to fulfill the Great Commission, of wanting to tell everybody about the hope that is within you.

It’s not only about sharing with your friends and neighbors, but with the people at work, the stranger on the street (okay, I know that one’s hard), about mission work, both locally and world-wide.  “If you ain’t sharin’ then you ain’t carin’” is how my grandma would have expressed it.

So there you have it.  I just had to get up and put this to pen (or, if truth be told, to word processor).  Maybe now I lay back down and go to sleep.  I’ll only get about three hours if I’m lucky, then I have to (want to) get up and shave and shower and get ready for the 6PM southern gospel quartet concert Bonnie and I are going to (“Don’t you just love that gospel music?)

CELEBRATE.  CONNECT.  SERVE.  SHARE.

I hope (and pray) I’ve done justice to what Pastor Jeff had to say at the volunteer meeting; but this is what I got out of it and what it meant to me.

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One thought on “There Are Mission Statements and Then There Are Mission Statements

  1. Chuck, you nailed it. Any for me, the ability to immediately do a self-evaluation of these four simple word in my life is what gives them power. When I answer the question “This today, have I “celebrated” God in my life?” I get real-time feedback on my own personal growth as a disciple of Christ. Suddenly, the “Mission Statement” become my checklist for growing deeper with God and living out my faith in a real and practical way.

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