A Strategic Plan, a must have for every nonprofit, determines the overall direction and goals of the organization. A Strategic Plan identifies where the organization wants to be at some point in the future and how it is going to get there. It addresses your organization’s challenges and barriers, outlines a funding and fundraising strategy, and analyzes internal strengths and weaknesses.
As part of your Strategic Plan, your ministry should define and establish a vision statement, mission statement, and statement of faith. Every ministry needs to have a long-term vision of what they wish to accomplish, a mission for how to get there, and faith principles of your core beliefs guiding this vision and mission. You will also want to revisit these often to ensure that the organization is still on-track and to evaluate how these core statements have changed over time. These reminders of where you want to end up, how you’ll get there, and what you believe, are vital to your organization’s effectiveness and efficiency.
A vision statement tells those inside and outside your organization the end goal for its existence. In no more than two sentences, a vision statement delineates the specific long-term goal of your ministry or church by explaining where you are going or what you wish to accomplish. What it doesn’t do is explain how you’ll reach your vision. That’s the job of your mission statement.
Whether you use your vision statement to explain what you want your organization to become or what you want it to achieve, you’re visualizing an ideal future. You need to put your vision statement on a pedestal so that your ministry staff or church members never lose sight of it. As a result, the decisions made by staff and church members are consistently aligned with the vision.
A worthwhile vision statement inspires and motivates your staff or congregants to take action and achieve goals. It challenges them to grow.
The following example from the Andrews Presbyterian Church illustrates a vision statement meant to inspire and motivate:
Andrews Presbyterian Church is committed to “Building The Relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, in Andrews, the Church and the world, all for the glory of God.”
As demonstrated by Andrews Presbyterian Church, the goals set to reach the vision also need to inspire staff and congregants. The vision statement stresses the benefits of achieving the goal and does not get caught up in the uninspiring details.
Does a long-term global ministry vision such as “To increase fundraising by 25 percent” inspire you? You’re more likely to be inspired by a goal of raising enough funds to…send ten more missionaries to the field to spread the gospel…feed more hungry people…shelter more homeless people…alleviate misery caused by poverty…diminish suffering after natural disasters. Each of these statements inspire because they focus on the impact of the organization within the community served. Let your vision be lofty and inspiring by focusing on those you are serving.
Your mission statement builds on your vision statement. We already noted that a vision statement is the leadership envisioning an ideal future. Alternately, a mission statement is management-oriented. Here you focus on the present and your strategies to reach your vision. While the vision statement serves as the end, the mission acts as the means.
Some mission statements are brief (as short as one sentence) and specific; others are long, general, and involved. An effective mission statement describes the main purpose of your ministry or church. It explains what you do, why you do it, and who your clients and constituencies are. Some also include ministry or church values and principles in the mission statement, but these are better suited within separate values/principles statements.
Like your vision statement, your mission statement ensures that the decisions you make serve your organization’s purpose. It also keeps your organization’s board, staff, and members in agreement. It also crystallizes your organization’s purpose to important stakeholders including funders, government regulators, and clients.
You should include action verbs in your mission statement because of their emotional effect on people. Words such as develop, equip, promote, teach, produce, make, fulfill, solve, create are examples.
The mission statement of the Ocean City Baptist Church illustrates a Christian Church mission statement:
As part of the body of Christ, the Ocean City Baptist Church will be obedient to Christ and recognize His command to “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Evident in Ocean City Baptist Church’s mission is a concise outline of its values and a clear strategy implemented to achieve its ultimate vision.
Statement of Faith
A statement of faith explains your organization’s principles and beliefs. Similar to the mission and vision, it generally seeks to inspire and motivate staff or congregants and maintain their commitment and support. A worthwhile statement of faith makes it clear to those inside and outside your ministry or church that you are committed to Christ and God. It also underscores the value you place on your relationship with your staff, congregation, and community.
The following is an example of a statement of faith from the Bloomington Free Methodist Church:
We strive to help people find Christ and live Christ-like lives. We present a positive and practical message that can be applied to every life.
That the Bible is the inspired word of God.
That there is one God, internally existent in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
That Jesus Christ is the only Son of God, He was born of the Virgin Mary, He lived a sinless life, and He was crucified for our sins and rose again.
That the most important thing in the entire world is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and faith.
That the Holy Spirit cleanses the believer from all sin and is living within us enabling the believer to live the Christian life.
That a relationship with Christ comes only through God’s grace not by man’s effort and must be received personally by repentance.
That the local church exits to encourage growth in every believer.
That we should share Jesus Christ with our community and the world.
The Nicene Creed or the Apostle’s Creed also often serves as a statement of faith for a ministry.
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son], who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
Evaluate your vision, mission, faith, and purpose statements with your staff and volunteer leadership. It will keep you on-track and make your ministry or church a focused, organized and efficient vehicle for Christ.
Sources: Andrews Presbyterian Church
Bill Birnbaum, CMC
Christian Mission Declarations
Gary M. Grobman,
Ocean City Baptist Church
Marilyn Schwartz, CSP
Smyrna Christian Church