The idea of a mission statement sounds so corporate. I know what I'm supposed to do with my choir. Do I really need a mission statement to keep me on track? Isn't our mission obvious?
If you were thinking these kinds of thoughts when you read the title, I hope you stick with me on this. A mission statement can be a very powerful tool for any leader. I hope you'll consider strengthening your leadership with the power of a mission statement.
Simply put a missions statement focuses you, your choir and anyone who interacts with your choir on exactly what your task is. To begin let's look at the mission statements of a few familiar companies.
Charles Schwab: Helping investors help themselves.
Disney: To make people happy.
GOOGLE: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
These mission statements are short, easy to read, easy to remember and very focused. A mission statement is really this simple: This is who we are. If it is so simple, then why is it so important? Because life gets complicated. In my experience, the common problem of burnout among church workers is because they say yes to everything, and everything becomes their job. Having a mission statement to go back to will give you the opportunity to be focused in your work.
Look at the Goggle example. To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. If someone at Google decides to consider a subscriber plan for users to access Google search, the idea would clearly be rejected. It goes against their mission statement to make the world's information "universally accessible" It's a no brainer. They are not going to waste time and energy on pursuing the idea because it is not who their mission statement says they are. Too many organizations who are not so focused will chase after a good idea, and often to their detriment.
In the same way a church choir can get off track. When a church choir is successful with their Sunday morning worship activities, there are people in church leadership who want to give the choir all kinds of tasks in the church. When I receive requests for the church choir to help with parking at the Lenten Fish Fry, or to sing the national anthem at the local AA baseball game I stack these requests up against our mission statement. The First Presbyterian Church Choir will honor God and inspire our congregation with the best music we can offer in worship.
I am often asked about our church choir singing concerts. We don't sing concerts. Its not a part of our mission. Its not what we do. Our mission is worship. Further, the time taken to prepare for a Christmas Concert will take our attention away from the task of preparing for worship. If worship becomes a secondary activity, my choir will have lost its focus and we will lose our effectiveness and will honor God less.
Do you feel like your choir has lost focus? Are you saying 'yes' to every opportunity that comes to you and your choir? I've said 'no' to many great ideas, and I think my choir has benefited from that. There are times when I have to make an exception, but I will make sure the work of our mission statement is prioritized above all else. There are also times where I haven't held on to the laser focus of my mission, and I've often been sorry in the end.
Take a few moments to write a some ideas down. Talk to your pastor or other leaders about what it is your choir (or any other group you work with) does. Pray about it. A mission statement can keep you focused on the work you were called to do, and that will truly honor God.