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First Thing: Kill Your Mission

Implicit mission, that is. 

Before you start your visioning, before you begin looking for your explicit mission, deal with the mission your church already has.

Oh, it has one. It's implicit, and probably invisible. If it's articulated, it's through those statements that come out in conversation, when you're deciding whether or not to do something. Do we go to two services? Do we move? Do we expand our religious education program? Do we keep this particular element in the worship service? 

There are often answers that will come out, that are key to the identity you have (which is not necessarily the identity you want) and key to why you actually have a church.

Why do you have a church? What is the raison d'être of your church? Why does it exist?

Unless your implicit mission is first acknowledged and addressed, it will continue to be the guiding mission of the church, no matter the beautiful mission statement that is explicitly created. Maybe the implicit mission should be the explicit mission of the church -- it could be good! But it needs to be identified and then decided -- do we want this to really be our mission? Will this guide us to where we want to go? 

On Facebook, I asked other UUs to tell me some of the implicit/invisible missions they see. 

Some of the answers: 

  • We will be a community of like-minded people where everyone gets along. 
  • We will create a large enough church to maintain our historic building. 
  • We will keep everybody happy, so nobody ever leaves. 
  • We will do what it takes to keep our doors open.
  • The most important thing to do is take care of our people. 
  • We are a place where everybody knows your name. 
  • To be a place where well-educated folks can express relatively mainstream-liberal ideas that they cannot share at their workplace or most other public spaces.

These probably aren't what you want to be the actual mission of your church, the reason for it existing. Now, some of these may go just fine with the explicit mission you come up with. After all, we should take care of each other. And maybe you want to be a deliberately small community where everyone knows each other. Some churches are doing that, they call it "micro-church."

Find the implicit mission. If it's what you want, make it explicit.

If it's not ... kill it.


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