Your mission is what is hanging on the wall,
Your system is what is happening down the hall.   –Andy Stanley, North Point Ministries 


Sometimes leaders have an “aha” moment where they realize that they have been doing (or avoiding doing) something that is working at cross-purposes with the purpose or mission of their organization

This happened recently with the coach of Kent State University’s basketball team, Rob Senderoff.  He noticed that his team members were playing more cohesively–e.g. there were more assists–on the road than they were at home.  He decided not to post the players’ individual points on the scoreboard this past Saturday in the televised game with their just-down-the-road rival–the University of Akron.  Senderoff explained, “We want to make sure our guys are focused only on how many points we have as a team and not on how many points they have individually.”


Asking players to be team players (e.g. to pass the ball when their teammate has a better potential shot) while rewarding them for shooting the ball themselves is a great example of how a leader was rewarding a behavior that worked against the behavior he really wanted. (I might even suggest that he should post the numbers of “assists” for each player.)

It is important for congregational leaders–on a regular, systematic basis–to take stock of how their church is living into its mission:

  • If you want to serve young families, how is your nursery staffed and decorated?  How do people respond to baby noises during worship?
  • If you want to serve young adults, what are you serving at coffee hour?  Coffee-shop quality coffee with choices of sweeteners and milk/soy/cream?  Soft drinks?
  • If you are focusing on a culture of stewardship, is your church being a good steward in the neighborhood and community?  With the district and UUA program funds?
  • If you are encouraging spiritual growth, what kind of programs do you offer?  Are there opportunities to go deep?  How are the programs Unitarian Universalist? Are there ways to serve in your congregation that feed members’ spiritual hunger?
  • Are you using your mission to prune programs that no longer serve a meaningful purpose?  Do you keep track of attendance and have the participants give feedback using some sort of assessment tool?


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.