Wall with 7 doors, the 3rd one is a different color.
What is the difference between mission, vision and covenant?
The Roles of Mission, Vision and Covenant in Congregations

This image is one mental model in understanding mission in a congregation.

The heart in the center is the core purpose of your congregation. Who are you called to be in the world, and in your context? What is it about your community that resonates in the hearts of its members and is invitational to those who enter through your doors? Are you a community that feeds the spirit? That helps heal disconnection? That works for economic or racial justice? This is your mission.

The arrow pointing upward is your congregation's aspiration of what you hope to become. It points toward your congregation’s vow with the universe, which is your theological understanding of your transcendent purpose. You may want to grow so that more people can experience the kind of community that you offer in service of Interconnection. You may wish to become an anti-racist community and help dismantle white supremacy in service of Radical Diversity. You may wish to be welcoming to both Humanists and Theists in service of Inclusiveness. This is your vision.

The Oval holding the mission and vision is how you agree to be in community as you live out your mission and strive toward your vision. It includes the promises you make to one another to “stay at the table” during rough patches, and to resolve conflicts and restore relationships when needed in service of the congregation’s mission and vision. This is your covenant.

The weight at the bottom are systems and habits within the community that are working in tension or at cross purposes with your vision. You may have a vision for an intergenerational community, but you have people look askance at parents with babies in the sanctuary. You may have a vision for racial and cultural diversity, but only have classical music in your Sunday services. These are Accidental Values.


About the Author

  • Rev. Renee Ruchotzke (ruh-HUT-skee) has served as a Congregational Life Consultant in the Central East Region since September of 2010. She serves congregation in Northeast Ohio and Western New York. She is part of the LeaderLab Design team providing Leadership Development resources and other trainings to congregations.

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.

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