Having a clearly articulated mission statement helps to guide a congregation’s leaders in deciding where to put their energy and resources.  But often such statements are put together by a committee and can be a bit….(I hate to say it)…wordy.

Last year I visited Western Michigan, where the rest of my family still lives. The area has strong Dutch Reformed roots.  Grand Rapids (where I grew up) is the home of Calvin College, several Bible colleges and a some well-regarded Christian book publishers. The Grand Rapids Press has a weekly religion section (not just a page) and there are three full pages of church advertisements vying for the attention of the unchurched.

Most of the churches who advertised articulated their mission—who they were in the context of the wider community—in a clear, short statement; one that could easily fit into the 140 character limit of a twitter message. The theology of the congregation wasn’t always apparent in the mission statement.  I thought it might be fun to look at the different mission statements removed from their denominational affiliation.

  1. A Multi-Ethnic Church
  2. Rooted in Truth, Reaching Out with Grace
  3. The Church on the Hill
  4. We Welcome and Celebrate Diversity
  5. 96 years in ministry
  6. A place where devotion and compassion meet
  7. Alive in the City – Embracing the World
  8. An Inclusive, Progressive Community of Faith
  9. Authentic Church for the Modern World
  10. Be aware. Be grateful. Be kind.
  11. Classic Worship, Liberating Theology
  12. Come and enjoy our traditional style worship services.
  13. Come Share the Spirit
  14. Cultivating Religious Freedom, Diversity, Inquiry, and Community
  15. Free the Mind…Grow the Soul…Change the World
  16. From 1849 to today.
  17. Join us in worship this weekend
  18. Seeking God, Following Christ, Serving Others
  19. Spiritual Growth, Fellowship, Support and Service Opportunities for All Ages
  20. Spiritual without being religious
  21. The Church with a Heart
  22. Your church home

What assumptions might you make about each faith community?

What is their mission—i.e. the work that God is calling them to do in the world?

Is it their mission one that calls to you as well?

May we find ways to articulate our own missions (whether on the church website’s homepage, a church Facebook® page or even in a newspaper ad) in a way that those who are not yet a part of our faith communities are inspired to join with us.

(For the curious, here are the denominational identities of the churches whose mission statements I shared above.)

  1. Assembly of God
  2. Christian Reformed
  3. Congregational
  4. Church of God in Christ
  5. Lutheran
  6. The Salvation Army
  7. United Methodist
  8. Trinity United Methodist
  9. Undenominational
  10. Interfaith
  11. Reformed Church in America
  12. Baptist
  13. Lutheran
  14. Unitarian Universalist
  15. Unaffiliated Liberal
  16. Congregational
  17. Undenominational, Bible-based
  18. United Methodist
  19. Presbyterian Church
  20. Unity
  21. Presbyterian
  22. Assembly of God
About the Author
Rev. Renee Ruchotzke
Leadership Development Consultant, Central East Regional Group (CERG) of the UUA. I have a vision of Unitarian Universalist congregations being led by thousands of diverse, spiritually mature and passionate people ready and willing to spread the good news of liberal religion.  I believe ministry is best when shared between lay and professional leaders. More information about me can be found on the UUA website.
  • Unitarians don’t really have any gonreving body or centralized authority, which makes sense considering what they are all about, and I have noticed that their levels of religiosity vary widely from congregation to congregation. Something to be aware of if you are seeking a community but not the god-stuff. But overall, they seem to be aimed at the hugely growing number of people who describe themselves as spiritual, but not religious, a group that seems relatively harmless on the surface, but still rubs me the wrong way. I don’t believe in God, but I believe in . something. What does that mean?!? What is that something? I don’t know, I just think there must be something. The slippery spiritual-but-not-religious crowd drives me nuts, and the idea of spending 2 hours with a roomful of them every Sunday sounds insufferable.