A ‘New’ Mission
People often ask what the difference is between a mission and a vision. In organizations, they can be confusing, but when it comes to organizational health, having clarity of both and knowing the difference is essential. Basically, a mission is a declaration of identity. It states why an organization exists. A vision is where that organization is going in the next chapter of its life. A mission says “who we are,” and a vision says “where we’re going.” As a community of faith, we may define them as a mission being “whom God has called us to be,” and a vision is “What God is calling us to do in the next few years.” Missions rarely change. Visions are refreshed every few years.
Those who’ve been around a while may remember that in 2016, our church discerned God’s vision for us: “being good neighbors to make Little Rock a place where children THRIVE.” Once we articulated this vision, it spread through our community of faith like wildfire. People got it. Just from that sentence, they understood what God was calling us to do. It was exciting, and people had lots of new ideas and strategies for how to live into this vision. We also wanted everyone to know it by heart, so we proclaimed it together every Sunday before we left to worship. All of this spiritual energy around this vision confirmed for me that what we had discerned was truly God’s vision, not just a neat phrase we could put on a t-shirt.
This vision seated itself in our church so firmly that we began to wonder if this was more of an identity statement than a temporary vision. That made sense because it was born out of who we had been and what we’d done in the past. During the first 2/3 of this year, our church leadership has been discerning God’s new vision for us for the next few years. As we began that process, we weren’t completely ready to let go of our previous vision. We realized that was because it was more of our mission than vision. It was who we are. Because of that, the vision team thought, “what if we tweaked it a little and made this our mission statement?” Then they took that suggestion to the Board of Stewards, who in July approved our church’s new Mission Statement as:
First United Methodist Church, Little Rock, seeks to be good neighbors to make Little Rock a place where all God’s children THRIVE.
Doesn’t that just fit better? This is who we are as a community of faith. To be a good neighbor stems from what Jesus said was the second greatest commandment, “to love our neighbors as ourselves.” Then our faithfulness of neighboring will transform our city where all children of God can THRIVE. It’s a calling beyond serving the children, youth, and young adults of our city, but ALL children of God, no matter their age, demographic, personality type, location, membership, or whatever. All people are God’s children, and because of that, they deserve to thrive.
In worship on Sunday, October 23, we’ll share more about God’s new vision and what we’re being called to do over the next two years. I hope you’ll make plans to be there or worship online that day. Then that afternoon at 4:30, we’ll have a church “town hall” in the Cokesbury Center to hear more about what God has done through us and what we see God calling us to do and be. I hope you’ll attend that as well.