Monday, September 20, 2010

Mission Statements

"Any entity that attempts to operate without a mission statement runs the risk of wandering through the world without having the ability to verify that it is on its intended course."  Missions.com


I spent the morning leading a workshop on teaching Sunday School for pre-schoolers.  We talked greeting visitors, establishing sign-in procedures, preparing the classroom environment, engaging our learners -- every aspect of the Sunday School hour.  As we neared the end of our time together, I shared with the group that even though everything we had covered was worthy, that ultimately, the single most important element of Sunday School for pre-schoolers is that in church, they feel love.  In church, they feel love.  All that we do to prepare for and deliver those Sunday School lessons will not make one bit if difference if we do not accomplish our primary goal -- in church, they feel love.

As I stated this, my confidence in the statement made me sit up straighter, made my voice more steady and made my heart full.  I knew the truth of this statement, I believed it, and I wanted to share it with others.

And then I started to wonder, could I make a statement about that for the work I do in other areas of my life? The single most important element of education for high school students is that in school, they_______.
How about for my family?  The single most important element of my family is that as a family, we ______.  These were much harder for me to complete than the Sunday School one was.  Then again, Sunday School is one hour a week -- maybe that limited time frame allows for a more focused mission.  However, shouldn't it be easier to determine the top priority for something (like family or career) that dominates our lives?

As a family, we...care about and respond to the needs of each other?

In school, they...learn how to learn?

Those seem good, but are they the essence of what we do?

As part of my school's staff and leadership team, I have discussed mission statements, vision statements, goal statements, all kinds of statements over the past year.  I like the process and feel it is worthy, but it seems no matter which statement we craft or choose, someone takes issue with it.  Someone wants it stated a different way or worries it will give us permission to ignore other needs.  I think another problem may be that we fear making these statements because they immediately make us accountable.  What happens if we do not accomplish the statement?  What happens if someone realizes we fell short of our vision, our mission, our goal?  And perhaps most scary of all, what happens if we actually have to change in order to fulfill the statements we make?

So, facing that fear, here I go:

The single most important element of Sunday School for pre-schoolers is that in church, they feel love.
The single most important element of education for high school students is that in school, they matter.
The single most important element of my family is that as a family, we take care of each other.

And I am willing to fail, willing to fall short and willing to change to make each of those statements as true as it can be.

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