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4. Knowing Your Purpose: Leading in Alignment with Your Mission

UU Value words, Love, Justice, Hope, Faith and Community, projected on to a building for light show.

A congregational board isn't accountable just to the members of your congregation. Instead, you are accountable to something greater. You are leading the congregation toward its purpose or mission of sharing the Love and Grace of Unitarian Universalism in your location and context and its vision of how it can become closer to embodying the Beloved Community. 

The words, theology and details of each congregation's mission and vision will vary, but the role of the board remains the same: Leading in alignment with that mission and vision.

Download the Syllabus (PDF) to keep track of your progress!

Understanding Mission and Vision

To the left you will find a mental model that describes the scope and purpose of mission and vision. 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?

More about Mission, Vision and Covenant

Leading from Mission to Action

Mission and Vision statements are only useful when they are living documents, used by congregational leaders to make decisions and to communicate to the congregation. Your members should feel sense of connection and ownership. Make sure you find inspirational words, using active rather than passive verbs. Read the mission, vision and covenant liturgically (as part of your worship service) regularly and post them on your website.

More on Mission to Action

Seeking Alignment with the Mission

It's important for every board member, every committee chair and every ministry team leader to feel a sense of ownership and connection to the mission. To do this, integrate the mission and vision into your congregational systems. Encourage committees and teams to use the mission and vision to set their annual goals and to report on how they served the mission and vision in their annual reports. Create a mission-based budget and base your stewardship campaign on how you spend your resources on mission. Look to see where your congregational systems might have "accidental values" imbedded in them an are working at cross-purposes to your mission and vision. 

More on Alignment

Finding Your Prophetic Voice

Sometimes, as leaders, you may need to lead during a time of anxiety beyond the comfort zone of members of the congregation. You may even need to lead beyond your own comfort zone. It's at times like these that connecting to your mission and vision become especially important. Take time as a board to pause, to revisit your mission, vision and covenant in depth and discernment to help you find your prophetic voice and perhaps make a courageous rather than a comfortable choice.

More on the Prophetic Voice

About the Author

UUA Congregational Life Staff Group

The regional Congregational Life staff are congregations' local connection to the UUA. All of the program Congregational Life staff have expertise in most aspects of congregational life and each also has a few program areas of expertise. See the...

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.

What does a mission-focused church look like?

By UUA Congregational Life: Growth Strategies For Congregations Office

From LeaderLab

Creates a shared vision of the church, an effective mission statement and dynamic mission-centered goals to implement the mission. Develops and affirms a clear identity and purpose with a strong sense of mission. Mission(s) used as a compass in decision-making. Members can identify the...

Characteristics of a Mission-Based Congregation