Strategic planning in which enterprises organise their long term development around vision, mission and values statements is now the norm for any organisation which aspires to grow. The Coca Cola Company, a highly successful global brand has a simple and straightforward statement which reads:
“Our vision serves as the framework for our Roadmap and guides every aspect of our business by describing what we need to accomplish in order to continue achieving sustainable, quality growth.
People: Be a great place to work where people are inspired to be the best they can be.
Portfolio: Bring to the world a portfolio of quality beverage brands that anticipate and satisfy people's desires and needs.
Partners: Nurture a winning network of customers and suppliers, together we create mutual, enduring value.
Planet: Be a responsible citizen that makes a difference by helping build and support sustainable communities.
Profit: Maximize long-term return to shareowners while being mindful of our overall responsibilities.
Productivity: Be a highly effective, lean and fast-moving organization.”
Impressed by the Coca Cola statement, I wondered if any Scottish churches had vision, mission and values statements. Sadly, few seem to have much of any substance. This may in part explain why the body of Christians who are born again believers, continues to decline.
In a recent article, Senior Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, California argues that a church without a vision is unlikely to grow. The Bible in the book of Proverbs says, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves” and unfortunately many of our evangelical churches are doing just that. With no vision, they have become no more than very cosy social clubs.
Establishing the vision of a local church is not difficult because it’s already set out in scripture. It is the responsibility of church leaders in equal partnership with those they purport to lead to prayerfully establish what it will take to reach its community for Christ within the next three to five years. The church's vision would then be in line with Christ’s Great Commission.
There are two processes which can be followed when establishing an individual church’s vision: top down and bottom up. Most commentators are agreed that the risk of having a wrong vision is much lower when a bottom up process is followed. When a church gets down to serious ‘believing prayer’ and listening to all the members, it will undoubtedly discern what Jesus, its head, intends that church's vision to be. After all, he dwells in each believer!
God has given every believer a mission and He wants us to use our brains in determining how best to accomplish the task. When rooted in Scripture, vision, mission and values statements can be a helpful way of focussing, motivating and keeping people ‘on task’.
Church leaders can learn a lot about growth from successful enterprises such as Coca Cola; the question is, are they willing to learn or are they content with more of the same?