Why Are We Here?
I have a test for you. Without looking at anything else, without scanning down the page for the answer (it is down there), can you say what the St. Paul's United Church Mission Statement is? Did you even know we had one? For more of a test, can you say what our Vision Statement (which is longer) is?
Vision and Mission Statements are strange animals. Some people call them essential, others say that they are not worth much. In theory an organization's Vision and Mission guide and drive every activity, every decision, every choice. In practice, in many church congregations, they are statements that a portion of the people remember exist, and fewer can tell you what they actually say and mean.
At the September Council meeting I asked the members of Council to finish this sentence “The main reason St. Paul's exists is....” (and then this month I had the same discussion with the M&P committee). There were a variety of answers. Some of them talked about being a different kind of Christian voice in the community. Some talked primarily about being a worshipping community. Some talked about serving the wider community. At least one person got quite practical and talked about the fact that we exist because of the work done by many who have gone before us and the continued giving (time and money) of those who are here now.
In those discussions I also asked them to finish this sentence “St. Paul's spends the most energy on...”. There was a less vocal and somewhat less enthusiastic discussion at that point but there was still a sense that the answers to both parts were linked. [This is not always the case. Some organizations have a clear sense of why they exist but then realize most of their energy and resources are on doing other things.]
Naturally that brings us to our Mission and Vision Statements. And since I promised, here is how we at St. Paul's describe our Mission:
Putting one foot in front of the other, we will continue to walk on the path Christ has set for us. The people of St. Paul’s will Belong...Believe...Love...Lead
and here is our Vision:
To be a loving and supportive community of faith where we celebrate the gifts of the spirit we bring, regardless of age, to the service of the Church, the Community, and the World. Our leaders, both Lay and Order of Ministry, will be supported and encouraged through our ongoing discernment of our mission and ministry and by our participation in the life and work of St. Paul’s United Church.
So what do those mean to you? When you read them and you look at the future what should we do more of? What should we stop doing? What are we not doing that we should be doing?
As we get set to begin a New Year (the church year begins with the first Sunday of Advent – December 2nd) it is time to think about what we want to accomplish in the next year. As an organization our goals need to grow out of our answer to the question “Why Are We Here?”. And really Vision and Mission statements are just fancy ways to answer that question.
So why are we here? What should we be doing in the new year? Or, to use more theological language, “Who and how is God calling us to be in Grande Prairie in the 21st Century?” AS your Council works on goals for 2014 and beyond I encourage you to share your hopes, dreams, thoughts and vision with us. Together we move forward into the future, together we are this small part of God's Kingdom. And that, as they say, is a good thing.