Do Churches Need to Develop Mission Statements?

July 13th, 2011

Every church I have served has had a mission statement. I have assisted churches in developing mission statements. Some of those statements have been quite good, others are nothing more than idyllic preference-driven affirmations on how the church can continue to serve only itself. Since the church has a mission, having a mission statement seems quite logical.

But does the church need to develop a mission statement when Jesus has already given us one?

And Jesus came and said to them, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you' (Matthew 28:18-20).

I know that when churches develop mission statements they mean well, but in doing so do they unintentionally suggest that they can improve upon the mission Jesus gave the church some two millennia ago? We are to go to all the nations in order to make disciples of Jesus Christ, and that mission has not changed. Perhaps we feel the need to have a second mission statement because we want to add our two cents, believing we have to have a say in what we should be doing as the church.

Now some might suggest that a mission statement gives more detail, fills out, Jesus' marching orders he has given to the church. But the experts in mission statements insist that a good mission statement is short and to the point and easy to memorize, and a long mission statement is counter-productive and basically useless. What is shorter and more to the point than Jesus' charge to make disciples of all nations?

No individual church needs to develop a mission statement. We've had one for two thousand years. What each church needs to do is to get to the task of keeping the charge we've already been given.

Allan R. Bevere is a United Methodist pastor in Akron, OH. He blogs at
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