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Context Guide | Appendix C
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Using the Core Story to Write a Vision Statement
The purpose of this Appendix is to assist you in reviewing an existing vision statement or writing one for the first time.
The words vision, mission and ministry are often used interchangeably. In the Percept materials we define these as follows:
Vision
Our vision is the “big picture” of where God is calling us. Vision is based on who we are today and the potential before us. Many Percept materials will refer to “vision” as being composed of what is and what should be if we responded to God’s call. A vision is always just a bit beyond our grasp and is something we work toward. Our understanding of our vision changes periodically as the circumstances in our community and congregation change.
Mission
The mission is what we do to fulfill our vision. A mission plan often contains the broad stroke plans we have to close the gap between where we are in our current ministry and where we know God is leading us. In today’s fast changing society a mission plan is usually valid for no more than three years. Percept recommends that a mission plan be reviewed annually.
Ministry
Ministry is the concrete action of our mission plan that takes us closer to fulfilling God’s vision for our church. Ministry is what all of us do each day in fulfilling the hopes and dreams of the congregation through action.
An Example of Each
Vision Statement
First Church invites all people to worship in joy, learn with open minds and serve the inner city of Smallville with a compassionate heart.
Mission Plan
NOTE: This is a general outline; a full mission plan would be more complete.
1 Offer two distinctly different worship opportunities each week.
2 Provide quality and challenging educational and small group opportunities weekly.
3 Challenge our members to become active in ministries serving our community.
Ministry
1 Offer a contemporary, casual dress worship service at 9:00 A.M. each Sunday.
This service will use music, drama and other art forms to share the Gospel and praise God.
2 Offer a traditional worship service at 11:00 each Sunday utilizing classic hymns and a traditional order of service.
3 A banner announcing each service will be purchased and in place by August 1.
Writing a vision statement is an important way for the church board to place before the community what the intentions of the congregation are for mission and ministry. It is the “why” that leads to the what and how of things.
A vision statement needs to grow out of the discussion of the Core Story. If your core story leaves the future open ended, writing a vision statement is the next step. If your core story has been written with a concrete mission plan suggested, you might want to ask – what is the vision behind this mission plan? Although that may seem like putting the horse before the cart, it’s actually an interesting way to see if the proposed mission plan actually reflects where the church board/council feels God is leading the church. Either way is acceptable.
Writing a Vision Statement
Set aside a significant part of your local church board’s meeting or plan a special meeting just for the purpose of writing the vision statement. The time frames below are only suggestions. This process can also be divided between two or more meetings.
Materials Needed: Copies of the Core Story, newsprint, markers, masking tape, samples of vision statements (You may use the example above or go to church websites of your denomination and select a few to share).
NOTE: Before the meeting begins – have the definitions of vision, mission and ministry written on newsprint; have the sample vision statements written on newsprint.
30 minutes
Set aside a significant part of a council/board meeting to discuss the question – where does our Core Story suggest God is calling us in the next chapter of our life? It is likely that people will generate specific ministry steps at first attempt. List all ideas on newsprint.
5 minutes
When the group appears to be winding down, see if the ideas can be grouped into general areas (i.e. evangelism, education, worship, etc.)
10 minutes
Present the definitions of vision, mission and ministry previously written on newsprint.
5 minutes
Present the examples of “vision statements” previously written on newsprint.
15 minutes
Divide the group into smaller groups of no more than 4 (this can be done as a single group if less than 8) and ask the group to write a vision statement based on the previous discussion. Give each group a piece of newsprint to write on.
5 minutes
Ask each group to share their statement by reading it and then attaching it to the wall with newsprint.
5 minutes
Ask participants to walk around the room, review the statements and put an x on the one which they feel most clearly reflects what they believe the church’s vision to be.
5 minutes
Ask for one or two volunteers who agree to take the top two statements and combine them into a new statement to be viewed and edited at the next meeting.
At the next meeting (either regularly scheduled or a special meeting of the board/council) the statement may be shared, edited and finally voted upon.
In some instances it is necessary for the congregation to vote on a vision statement. In most congregations it can be approved by the decision making group and shared with the congregation for affirmation.
When you’ve completed your vision statement you’re ready to begin designing your mission and ministry plan. A suggested one-day retreat design to assist you in this important task can be found in Appendix F.