Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reaching Harry and Mary

In response to my posts on vision and mission, Jim Griffith, the best leadership coach I know responded with this;

fyi: I’am probably the only person on the planet who thinks vision statements, mission statements, et al are important but seriously "over-rated." there's absolutely no relationship between a well articulated vision or mission statement and new professions of faith or lifelong transformation. there is a large bill $$$ as the board goes away for a few weekends to come up with these statements, but that's it. in fact, with existing congregations, they have these things in spades. many of them cut & paste from megachurch websites.

I find these exercises a complete waste of time and many members of the laity see them for what they are: fruitless meetings.

What I suggest as an alternative, have the leadership team spend 24 hours away defining the un-church harry & mary in their mission field and obsessing about how to reach them.”

As I said in an earlier post, I agree with Jim and think most mission statements and the process that brings them about are over-rated. Notice, however, that Jim is concerned with the number of new professions (or adult converts as we would say in TEC). Vision and Mission Statements are about organizational revitalization and have “no direct relationship” to reaching un-churched because that is not their purpose. In addition, my experience is that few Episcopal congregations make “new professions of faith” the highest priority of the congregations. I leave it for the reader to ponder the “meaning” of this last statement.

What Jim knows, and those who wish to grow their congregations in new member ministry (and not just transfer growth) is that to do so you must find a methodology that works and then repeat it over and over. One of the best church planters I know said it this way to me, “Church planting isn’t that creative. Once you find the way to reach folks, you have to be willing to repeat it over and over. Most Episcopal clergy are too creative to want to do this.”

All this leads us to the topic of “EXECUTION” or as I like to call it “organizational consistency,” the topic of my next blog.


  1. Kevin....

    I'm a believer in the power of vision and a clear and executable mission.

    John Maxwell wrote:
    The best leaders are able to see a vision and then activate it by stepping forward. In addition, they're willing to sacrifice to see the vision come to fruition. Finally, they realize the importance of surrounding themselves and their vision with an incredible team.

    I would submitt...that real issue is the leaders or lack of leaders that have been generated within TEC. So I suppose it begins in the seminaries. At least from my experience, there are few entrepreneurial clergy leaders. The idea seems to develop leaders that protect the system rather than reaching those outside of the church.

    As far as surrounding themselves with a team....I wonder if those concepts are ever developed.

    Jim Baker
    Cary, NC

  2. We certainly are short on real leaders. Personally, I don't think that seminaries are intended to teach leadership and that clergy must find this somewhere else.

    I've often felt that we need a kind of equivalent "war college" for clergy, a functional leadership training. It was tried for a while by the national folks, but too progressive/mainline - meaning ineffective - just look at our track record.