A few weeks ago we had the privilege to visit the cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer, 9387 white marble gravestones are perfectly lined up on the field that overlooks Omaha beach. I just kept thinking seventy- two years ago June 6, 1944 also know as D-Day, Some 156,000 American, British, Canadian and a few Irish landed on five beaches along the cost of Normandy. And just beside us was Omaha beach, were the US 1st and 29th Divisions together suffered around 2000 casualties. So this June 6, I’ll raise a glass and toast the heroism of all those young men who fought to liberate Europe from Nazi occupation. Without their service and sacrifice, our world would be a darker place. Remembering this day not for the glory of war, but for the magnitude of the selflessness and sacrifice made by these men and woman on June 6, 1944. General Patton may have summed it up best when he said, “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
Do you need another church mission/vision statement? Many of us church leaders have over the years spent hours and hours and gone to countless workshops trying to develop that perfectly crafted vision statement. The statement that is memorable, catchy and interesting and of course has clear biblical values. Most mission statements sound great. But what difference do they really make?
I remember in the early 90s as we were starting out in ministry and beginning our first journey in to church planting. I remember spending days working on a mission statement trying to get the wording right, changing words around trying to get it to a nice concise pithy statement that everyone on our team would understand and get behind. This brief sentence would define who we are, express our values and get us excited about what we do. In those days you just had to have a mission statement. Every church and church plant had to have one.
I can still remember the mission/vision statement that we chose “To see the great command and the great commission become a reality in the lifestyle of every believer”. At the time I thought it was brilliant. It was clearly biblical. It said what I wanted to see occur and what I wanted our church plant to become. At the time to me anyway it sounded great. I still think it is a very good statement. Loving God and each other and being a disciple of Jesus who makes disciples is the heart of our work today and with the Lord’s help I don’t ever see that changing.
Today research suggests that rather than value statements shaping our behavior, our actions can actually shape our values. The practices and actions that a society endorses in turn shape the way people of that society think. Have we been focusing too much on transferring values to the exclusion of passing on good habits? Good habits are those practices we nurture in our lives that unite us, that connect us more deeply to Jesus and each other. Maybe we need to focus more on habits that energize us in becoming more like Jesus. Rather than just teaching values, we could focus on fostering good missional habits. Creating habits that become rhythms of blessing, spending time with each other, spending time listening to the Holy Spirit, learning from Jesus. If you commit to these kinds of habits it would be fair to say you’ll become more Christlike, and gradually see yourself as a missionary right in your own community.
Do you need a mission statement? I think mission statements do have value but not as much as we like to think. Our actions our habits can actually shape our values more successfully.
Merry Christmas everyone. Martha and I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Enjoy this little video. Thank you for all your prayers and support.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2: 8-11
Your Church is Only As Good As Its Disciple. If this is true, then what is the most effective method for discipleship in the world right now and what can we learn from it? Jon Tyson explains in this short video.