BY JUSTIN RABBACH |
Mission and Vision Statements are hard to come by. You have to find the perfect balance between the three word slogans that work well as a marketing slogan, but not so well as a discerning tool to help evaluate future organizational planning AND not getting so wordy that no one can remember, or really even understand it.
Examples of the former include:
“I’m Loving it” or “Snap! Crackle! Pop!” or “Taste the Rainbow” or “Finger Lickin’ Good” or “Just Do It!” or “Don’t be Evil”.
Though you may already have identified the brands or products represented by those slogans above, the answer key for those companies, in order, are: McDonald’s, Rice Krispies, Skittles, KFC, Nike, and Google.
I also mentioned overly wordy mission statements. To avoid disenfranchising any potential (real) organizations that may be planning a multi-million dollar Board of World Mission (BWM) sponsorship, let me give an example from the world of fiction, that still rings just a little too true:
This Mission Statement from the fictional company in the TV show The Office is filled with buzz words meant to spoof what we see in the real world. The reality is that none of the items listed in the statement are bad, but mashed together, it is hard to find clarity.
Now, I don’t expect the Moravian Church in general, or specifically the Board of World Mission (BWM) to have market penetration or recognition of some of those companies.
However, for a while the BWM did use a three-word phrase, “We Send People” to describe it’s mission.
Later, we transitioned to a bit longer explanation of our mission: “The BWM is about the work of God in the world through serving and sending God’s people to bring others to know and follow Christ. We disciple people in mission by walking with individuals, churches, and global partners so that together we may provide opportunities for people to be God’s instruments of grace, peace and justice in the world.”
So, in the top example, it was clear we were about sending people… but if you sat in our meetings, you would see our work was about that and so much more. In the bottom example, you might get a wider view of our work, but may have questions about specific items (ex. What does it tangibly mean to be an instrument of grace, peace, and justice?) which would have been hard to track down in our supporting materials.
Looking to find both clarity (what do we do?) and alignment (does our staffing and structure line up to support what we say we do?) the BWM worked on these questions for a couple years. In 2017, the full board looked at all of our programs and found areas of energy and passion, and other areas of work that maybe no longer fit with our current vision. (It was the board equivalent of Marie Kondo’s recommendation to hold possessions and ask, “Does this bring me joy?” but we asked “Does this fit who we are?”)
From this work, rose a realization that we had two distinct categories of work, Mission Outreach and Mission Engagement. Mission Outreach is the way we reach out and work with our global partners helping to support and grow new capacity to spread the Gospel. Mission Engagement is the way we energize, recruit, and send folks from our constituent congregations in the Moravian Unity Provinces that make up the BWM.
We worked with these ideas, but labels alone are not enough to really drive organizational clarity and change… so we consulted (by reading his book The Advantage) Patrick Lencioni. If we were feeling discouraged that we had not solved all our issues in a single day, it was helpful to read that “Alignment and clarity cannot be achieved in one fell swoop with a series of buzzwords and aspirational phrases crammed together. It requires a much more rigorous and unpretentious approach.”(p.76)
Another multi-day off-site was our next step in trying to bring clarity and alignment, and we spent 3 days answering six questions…. Yeah, I know that seems like we were going a bit slow. But the result was a single page (front and back) that listed our organizational structure and the goals that would be used to align our work even better within this structure. Then we began pulling resource and documents and adjusting them as needed to meet our new structure.
A step further and we have even changed staff titles to align with this new structure, and created BWM Committees to specifically support our Outreach and Engagement work.
We have found a Purpose (statement) to support our understanding of our vision and mission. “The BWM builds relationships through Mission Outreach and Mission Engagement to be faithful to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.”
This allows us to be based biblically on the Great Commandment (Mark 12: 28-44) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), and clarify our use of our tools (Outreach and Engagement) as we undertake the strategy of starting by building relationships.
Now, if you are wondering how this has all worked out for the BWM… ask me in a year, five years, 25 years…. We are just getting started. The Top Priority for 2019 is for the BWM to work to bring clarity to our work. So, sharing this with you here is both a story that others can use if they are also seeking clarity, but also a huge help in holding the BWM accountable to align ourselves, so we aren’t just distracted by the good things we can do. Rather, we feel called to the GREAT (Commandment and Commission) things we can do!
About the Author
Justin Rabbach is the Executive Director of the Board of World Mission of the Moravian Church in North America. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife Jessica and his (aptly named) dog Lambeau. Justin started as a volunteer taking part in Moravian Mission work, and can’t believe he now gets to continue this work as his vocation.