how to release your mission statement s power
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Recap From The Untapped Power of Your “Mission” Statement

Just as I did in the previous post in this series, I refer to mission statements throughout this post, but I’m not necessarily referring to the traditional mission statement that describes how your ministry will fulfill its purpose; in other words, its activities. That is ‘mission’ in its narrow sense. ‘Mission’ in its broad sense is about what a ministry exists to accomplish, and the vision (or end statement) is the better description of what your mission is. Think of the vision/end statement as a top-level mission statement. If a ministry has only a traditional mission statement, they would greatly benefit by creating either a vision statement or an end statement.

Unpacking the Mission Statement

The way CCCC unpacked its End Statement and released its power worked very well for us, and you are welcome to use the same process. If you download the presentation CCCC End Statement Unpacked, you will be able to follow along as I review the steps, which are:

1. Identify the Component Parts of the Mission

Break the mission, vision, or end statement into its component parts, isolating each word or phrase that contains a single idea. The meaning of some parts may seem self-evident and not worth exploring any further. We had some like that: “CCCC members” seems clear at face value, as does “will be.” But we unpacked those terms anyway and found, despite their apparent obviousness, that they still contained more nuances than we thought and led to some rich insights for our strategy.

We broke our End Statement into six component parts:

  1. CCCC members
  2. will be
  3. exemplary
  4. healthy
  5. effective
  6. Christian (ministries)

CCCC calls the last four of these components the Pillars of a well-run organization. We want these Pillars to be true of CCCC just as much as we want them to be true of members.

  • Exemplary, Healthy, and Effective were derived from literature related to leadership, management, and organizational success and failure.
  • The fourth Pillar, Christian, is a necessary Pillar given the Christian identity of our members.

2. Define the Components

Write out what the components mean to your ministry. If your ministry is a church and your mission statement says you will evangelize or be a community that, define those terms so there is no misunderstanding as to what they mean. For example, Who will evangelize – pastors, or everyone in the congregation? If everyone, what does everyone mean – every adult, or kids too? Does your community include members only or does it include regular attendees who are adherents but not members? What about repeat but irregular attendees who have no church home? The definitions you give to your mission statement are extremely helpful for guiding how your ministry will operate.

CCCC researched the literature on how our components relate to organizational life and work, whether of a secular or a religious organization. For example, What makes an organization healthy? There’s a lot of research into that question to help us understand more specifically what we want our members to have more of. Even a simple term like “CCCC members” brought to our attention in a fresh way that our influence extends well beyond our paid membership with implications for marketing and the need for some à la carte products and services.

As examples, here’s how we define three of our components:

  • Will be: We expect members to steadily progress towards becoming ever more exemplary, healthy, and effective Christian ministries. This definition means we are not expecting a ministry to fulfill our End statement in an instant. Our End statement is not a standard to comply with but an aspiration to be achieved over time.
  • Exemplary: An exemplary ministry provides a compelling example of an organization operating with excellence in its life and work. This definition says that a ministry should not just be exemplary in how it runs its programs but should also be exemplary in how it operates as an organization. In fact, it should be so exemplary that anyone observing the ministry would be persuaded that they should operate in the same way.
  • Healthy: A healthy ministry is well-resourced with an ongoing flow of people, money, and strategy so it is indefinitely sustainable and primed for growth. There are many other factors that make an organization healthy, but these are what CCCC considers the top-level ones. Organizational culture, for example, is extremely important, but we placed it under the People category of organizational health.

3. State the Core Attributes of Each Component

Reflect on the work you’ve done on your strategic statement and identify the core attributes of each component. An attribute is a quality, feature, or characteristic that is an important part of a person or thing.1 This step is about describing the effects that each component of your strategic statement will have outside of your organization.

If part of your purpose is to prepare young adults to serve the church and the world, then the attributes will describe what that preparation needs to build in young adults. The attributes of an adult who serves the church and the world could include volunteerism, other-centredness, and generosity.

Here are the core attributes CCCC defined for the Exemplary part of our End statement:

  1. Impeccable. The ministry has an impeccable way of being. Every part of the ministry’s organization is precisely designed to fulfill the ministry’s mission with excellence.
  2. Best Practices. A ministry’s organizational life and work are models for best practices.
  3. Intellectual Creativity. The ministry researches, experiments, innovates, and advances its field of knowledge for the good of the Christian cause.
  4. Trailblazing. The ministry is visionary, bold, and innovative, confidently finding its own way to be relevant and practical in pursuing its mission.

4. Establish and Define Key Indicators for Each Attribute

List and define the indicators that demonstrate each core attribute is present. These indicators will likely be what you measure to prove how well your mission is progressing.

Here are the indicators CCCC developed for two of the core attributes of an exemplary ministry:


  • Core Logic. A defined core logic model governs all activities of the ministry. Every activity clearly advances the mission and is designed based on the best mission-related research and wisdom.
  • Integrity. Integrity aligns every aspect of the organization with its identity and purpose. It is above reproach. Every facet of the organization is precisely tuned to achieve mission results
  • Excellence. Excellence permeates the organization. The ministry consistently achieves superior performance in all aspects of organizational life and work. It is highly regarded for pursuing its mission with the best knowledge and practices available.
  • Accountability. There is public accountability for impact. The ministry welcomes scrutiny and makes scrutiny easy.

Intellectual Creativity

  • Research-Based. The ministry uses theoretical and evidence-based research. It is up to date in its field and is continuously learning.
  • Exploratory & Experimental. The ministry is exploratory and experimental in its mindset. It is willing to accept risks, is creative and curious, and finds inspiration in multidisciplinary areas across industries and sectors.
  • Thought Leader. The ministry is a thought leader advancing its fields of knowledge and practice. It shares what it knows with other ministries to allow testing and perfecting of its ideas for the good of all.

5. Set Measurements

Finding a way to measure your progress on each of the success indicators is essential to knowing how well you are accomplishing your mission; however, measurement is beyond the scope of this already lengthy post. I have addressed aspects of the topic in The Measure of Our Success and What to Do with Hard-to-Measure Mission Statements.

When You’re Done Unpacking

Once you are done unpacking your strategic statement, compare the new and more-detailed definition of your purpose with your current programs and services. Identify opportunities to close programs that don’t fit the mission, add new ones that do, and tweak existing programs that need to more closely align with your purpose.

Finally, have every part of your organization, from human resources to administration to IT, develop proposals for how they could better support the mission.

Unpacking your mission statement is one of the best investments of time a leader can make. It will be a gift to the organization and to your staff and volunteers and create the conditions in which you can move forward on mission fulfillment faster than you might think.

Series Navigation<< The Untapped Power of Your “Mission” StatementTheory of Change: A Step-By-Step Guide to Developing a Customized Plan For Your Ministry >>

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