The Greater Mission By R. Scott Rodin
The Greater Mission and Mission Statements
For the past 20+ years, I have been helping organizations write or revise their mission statements. Appropriately used, mission statements are both an anchor point and a guide. By clearly articulating who we are, what we do, and why we do it, our mission statement speaks internally by keeping us operating in our lane and externally by helping communicate what we’re all about to our target audiences.
DEFINE CORE PURPOSE
More recently, I become acquainted with the importance of helping organizations define their Core Purpose. The Core Purpose differs from a mission statement in that it considers the reason the organization was started in the first place. By going back to the origins, leaders today can understand the present needs that led to the decision to start the ministry to meet those needs. This keeps organizations even more focused on doing the unique work they were created to do, and it helps them more clearly define the value they bring to the kingdom.
A Core Purpose describes the soul of the organization, and as such, it shouldn’t change. Mission statements may need to be adjusted occasionally; they probably should be, but your Core Purpose remains the foundation upon which everything should be built. If you haven’t written a Core Purpose for your organization, I would encourage you to do so.
We have discovered an even more fundamental truth about Christian nonprofit organizations emerging from this work on Core Purpose. This will be a sweeping statement, but I will attempt to prove it true. Regardless of your mission statement and your Core Purpose, every Christian nonprofit and church operates under one transcending mission statement. Are you ready?
Our mission is to do God’s work, God’s way, for God’s glory.
THE GREATER MISSION
I have set this ‘greater mission’ before dozens of Christian nonprofits, and to one, they have agreed that, ultimately, that is their greater mission. Everything we do in the world of nonprofit work in ministry, including every church, should be passionately focused on ensuring that our work aligns with this three-part mission. Let’s look at it.
Doing God’s work means that we have discerned through prayer and diligently listened to God that our work is indeed what he’s called us to do. If we grow, it’s because he called us to succeed. If we change strategy, we believe he’s led us to do so. The temptation is to do our work according to our strategy and in pursuit of our goals and mistake it for God’s work. It should be our driving passion that every single decision we make, every act we take, and every aspect of our work is aligned with God’s will, ensuring that we are doing God’s work, not ours. Are you dedicating the time, prayer, and priority to provide all your work, which is truly God’s work?
Secondly, and this may be the more difficult one, we should ensure that everything we do is done God’s way. We do this by using the values of the kingdom of God and the teachings in Scripture as our operations manual. It requires us to align our policies and practices around the ethics of God’s kingdom. That includes our HR, finance, fundraising, board, program evaluation, etc. We can be tempted to do our work our way, relying on our ideas, strengths, and definitions of success. When we do, we go it alone, bereft of God’s leadership and power. Instead, the passionate pursuit of ensuring we are doing everything in God’s way should be the underlying value that drives our board agendas, directs our leadership team and staff meetings, and informs our strategic planning sessions. How fully are you aligning everything you do with kingdom values, built solidly on biblical principles?
Finally, doing everything we do for God’s glory means trusting him for the increase. It means understanding where our work ends and his provision takes over. It’s planting and watering with excellence (1 Corinthians 3:5-9), then trusting God to bring the increase. When we surrender our organizations and work to him, every success will reflect on him as our provider.
If we don’t, the glory stays with us. This is the spoiled fruit of pursuing our work our way. How different might your work look if you identified clearly where you trust God for the increase and deeply desired that he be glorified in everything you do?
TAKE THE CHALLENGE
I pray this is a challenge and an encouragement for you and your leadership team and board. I encourage you to examine your organization, every aspect of it, your own life, your measurement of success, and your values according to this greater mission. As followers of Jesus, may it be said of us and the organizations we steward that everything we do is driven by our desire to do God’s work, ensuring our plans are aligned with his, doing it God’s way, surrendering everything we do to his leading, and doing it all for God’s glory.
R. Scott Rodin is the Senior Consultant/Chief Strategy Officer for The Focus Group. He also serves as a Senior Fellow of the Association of Biblical Higher Education and as board chair for ChinaSource. Over the past thirty-eight years, Scott Rodin has helped hundreds of organizations improve their effectiveness in leadership, fund development, strategic planning, and board development. Be sure to read Dr. Rodin’s newest book titled The Greater Mission.
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