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Is your church clear about where it’s heading? Can you clearly state your purpose as a church? LUKE TATTERSALLl says you should develop a Mission Statement…
Source: Perspective Vo4 No2 ©Perspective 1999

Next time you’re standing at the counter in McDonalds ordering your Big Mac, Coke and Fries, have a look around the service area. Somewhere close by, you’ll see a plaque bearing this message:

“McDonald’s Future – To give each customer,
every time, an experience
which sets new standards
in value, service,
friendliness and quality.”

That is McDonalds “Vision Statement” or “Mission Statement”. McDonalds, like most companies in the world today, has a clear statement of their mission. It’s a statement about what they exist for as a company – what they’re trying to do and achieve. Companies today have realised that to succeed in business they need to be totally clear about what they’re doing.

The Ford Motor Company has this as their Mission Statement:

“Our mission is to
improve continually
our products and service
to meet our customer’s needs,
allowing us to prosper
as a business and to provide
a reasonable return to our

A mission statement for a company works in two ways:

  1. It reminds the people WITHIN for the organisation what they’re working towards – what they are supposed to be doing.
  2. It also informs those OUTSIDE the organisation what that group is striving to achieve.


It’s not only companies that are developing mission statements. There’s a trend among churches today to do the same. Now, while I’m the first to admit that many of the trends in the business world are things that the church should try to avoid, I think the idea of a mission statement is great. Churches, more than any other group, need to be clear about what they’re doing. After all, we’re doing something far more important than selling cars or making hamburgers.

Imagine you were to go into a church – any church, even yours – and you were to ask people this question: “What does this church exist for – what is it trying to do?” I dare say you would get a lot of blank looks. There may be some in the congregation who could give some kind of intelligent response. But generally churches lack focus and clarity in what they are doing. And they shouldn’t.

If you’ve seen the movie “The Blues Brothers,” then you will no doubt remember that Jake and Elwood believed they were on “a mission from God”. You might have had some doubts about the credibility of their mission. But there can be no doubting that the church IS on a mission from God. God has called his people together as the church, and he has called them for a purpose.

Have a look at these Bible verses and see if you can guess what that “mission” is:

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.” (Isaiah 12:4)

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

God has called his church to tell people about what he has done for us in Jesus – to proclaim the Gospel. That has to be the main reason for our existence as a church. If you want a word to sum it up it is called “evangelism”. We need to be telling others about Jesus and how they can have eternal life through him.

But there’s more to being a church than just evangelism (though this is by far and away the most important thing). There is also the role of edification – building up each other both physically and spiritually. God wants us to become mature as Christians, and he also wants us to demonstrate a great love and concern for each other. Jesus said this would be the stand-out feature of his disciples – their love for each other. So in discussing the purpose of the church and its reason for existence that must also be included.


A mission statement needs to be a clear, concise, and understandable declaration of the purpose and intention of your church. It needs to be phrased in words that are accessible to an outsider – not religious jargon. And it needs to be sharp – to the point.

Bill Hybel’s Willow Creek Church in Chicago has this Mission Statement:

To turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Jesus.

If you started attending that church, you’d be in no doubt about what they want to do.

I know of a few churches that have adopted this as their mission statement:

Ordinary people learning what it means to follow Jesus.

While that may fall more into the category of a motto or a slogan rather than a mission statement, it still gives a clear idea to those inside and outside what that group is on about.

Some churches have an even briefer statement:

Growing followers of Jesus.

That’s a cute one, because it has a dual meaning – growing in terms of both evangelism and edification.

The Mission Statement that our church has adopted was one developed by Dubbo Presbyterian Church. The statement is this:

To present Christ to every person – and every person mature in Christ.

It is based on one verse in Colossians 1:28. It may be based on one particular verse – but it sums up what God has called his people to do. It says there are clearly two things that we should be doing as a church. First, we should be telling other people about God, and what he has done for us in Jesus. And second, we should be encouraging those who have come to know Christ – those who are part of the church.

In developing a Mission Statement, you need to choose words that communicate clearly what you want to do as a church. And it needs to be a statement that the church understands and accepts. It’s no use having a few of the leaders in the church dream up a mission statement that’s not understood or accepted by the members of the church. The whole church has to own the mission statement if it is to work effectively.


A mission statement may seem fairly insignificant, but it can be an invaluable asset for a church. As I said above a mission statement can work in two ways:

  1. It reminds each of the people in the church what their church is trying to achieve – what goal they are working toward.
  2. It also tells people outside the church what your group is on about – why your church exists.

I’ve found it helpful to preach on our Mission Statement at the beginning of each year – normally two sermons looking at each part of the statement in turn. It’s a great way to get the year started – it helps us to regain our focus and start out on the right foot.

We try to keep the statement regularly before people’s eyes. It’s printed on our letterhead, and appears on the cover of the church notice sheet more often then not.

Our mission statement is regularly discussed at our leader’s meetings and used as the benchmark for measuring the success or value of activities within the church. I know of another church where each of the groups and organisations in the church – Bible study groups, men’s groups, women’s groups, youth groups, etc – is asked to write their annual report in terms of how their group has worked to fulfil the mission statement of the church.

I recently heard someone say that the best thing about our church was our mission statement. When I quizzed them further, they said it’s great to have such a clear focus on what we’re doing as a church. Why not try it at your church too?

Luke Tattersall

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