“Irritating and vulgar”

. . . is what Chris Erdman at Odyssey writes in reference to the flattening and deadening of the church’s mission and vocation by the ubiquitous church mission statement.

I quite agree.

Why A Church Mission Statement Is a Bad Idea

(Graham pointed it out.)

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. Most mission statements are badly contructed, and as such can indeed by “irritating” and/or “flattening and deadening.” Having said that, I have seen one or two effective church mission statements, so I’m unwilling to issue a blanket condemnation — I have seen a mission statement really focus one congregation into ministry to each other and to the world.

    Ideally, a mission statement would remind people why we are in a church, to remind us that we are more than just a social club. For congregations governed by congregational polity, I now believe a good covenant provides a more appropriate, more effective way to do the same thing. Of course, a badly done covenant will also be “irritating, flattening, and deadening” — as fallible beings, we humans can screw up anything!

  2. While some mission statements are in themselves less than useless, I believe that the value in the mission statement is not in the final product, some pithy verbage, but in the process in which congregants are asked to think about who they are and what God calls them to do.

    As for brief slogans, I am inspired when I reflect on the United Church of Christ’s slogan for its publicity campaign, “God is still speaking.” It contains the kernal of optimism and faith that revelation is not sealed but an ongoing process. That God is not finished with us offers hope that we can truly find God in this world, if we are listening.

    Mission statements can be irritating or inspiring as well. I do not imagine that they are meant to be the end all of the church’s life. I think that sometimes it is good to come up with a short-term mission statement to define the short-term goals of the congregation. This year the church that I am serving has chosen as its theme, “We’re making room for you” to summarize its goal to expand membership by going to a second service and expanding its programming (which will include a “Christian Interest Group.”) Mission statements, if they are clear and true, can be an inspiration to a congregation

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