Mission Statement Tips

By Douglas Zelinski

Archery target with arrows embedded.

Mission is found in the answer to the question: “Why must this congregation exist?”

This question brings very different answers from the question: “Why does this church exist.”

Mission speaks to the congregation’s calling, the source of its integrity and it’s central reason for being. What are we called to be and do?

Mission transcends the present members and friends of the congregation.

Clarity about Mission

  • Will inform the mission statement- make it more specific
  • Help Board chart goals, progress and program choices
  • Inform search committee as it interviews minister candidates
  • Infuse new energy into a congregation
  • Inspire more volunteerism
  • Help provide clarity to visitors and potential members
  • Can be profoundly threatening
  • Might change who you (we) are
  • Is true North for our (congregation’s) soul.
  • AND could cause some folks to leave…

Mission Statements

A Mission Statement is different than the Mission.

  • It articulates the response to the fundamental question of Mission: “Why must we exist?”.
  • It is no longer than one sentence (9 words!)
  • It can be easily understood by a 12 year old.
  • It can be recited by memory by all members.

Questions To Help Discover Purpose and Mission

Grasping Religion's Purpose

  • What do I believe is the fundamental purpose of religion and am I willing to join with that purpose?

Internalizing the UU Legacy

  • Which of the historic ways that Unitarian Universalism has fulfilled religion's purpose inspires and instructs me now?

Honoring the Call

  • What is my current calling as a UU and am I answering it?

Valuing UU as a Free Faith

  • As a free faith, what freedoms are most important to focus on and how do I do that as a UU?

Valuing UU as a Liberal Religion

  • What makes my faith liberal and how have I demonstrated this religious liberalism?

Defining the Transforming Message

  • How has my faith transformed me and how can it transform the world?

Translating the UU Message

  • What currently makes sharing the UU message difficult throughout society and how can I overcome the difficulty?

Embracing Accountability

  • How will I know if I am "being UU" the best I can?

About the Author

Douglas Zelinski

Douglas Zelinski worked with congregations for nine years as the Director of Leadership Development, first in the Metro New York District and then in the New England Region of the UUA, until November 2016....

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