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Distinctive Features of a Parish Mission Statement

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations.” (Matthew 24:14)

  • Rigorously consistent with the gospel.

  • Draft usually written by the priest and then reviewed by the parish council.

  • Addresses spiritual and humanitarian needs both within and beyond the parish.

  • It may answer the question: “For what purpose did we come into existence?”

  • Mission statement language is urgent, compelling and written in the active voice.

  • The actual structure of a mission statement may vary. However, it usually consists of one or two short paragraphs describing the purpose of the parish followed by a list of activities undertaken by the parish to fulfill its mission and against which it is willing to be held accountable.

  • Make it personal: references “saves lives” and “changes lives”.

  • Testifies to the primary values that drive the programs of service that address pressing human and societal needs.

  • More than just a bald statement of vague goals.

  • Poses a plausible argument why people should support.

  • Should not be longer than one bulleted page.

  • When in a strategic planning process, all activities of the parish should be measured against the mission statement and an effort made to identify missing activities. In so many Orthodox parishes, for example, there is no evangelization, mission or outreach effort and little charitable ministry for those beyond the immediate membership.

Thoughts: one priest and his parish council printed the mission statement on a huge poster and had a parish “mission statement signing day” when every child and adult signed it, or if not yet capable of signing, then alternatively placed a smudgy handprint on the statement, thus signifying that each person affirmed that this was not only the mission of the parish but his or her personal mission as well. Mission Statements along with the Values Statement and Vision Statement should be visibly posted for all to see. Once each year, they should be reviewed by the parish council either to validate their continued relevance or to modify according to new circumstances. The texts of these key identity documents should appear frequently in parish publications. Parishes may wish to create a “tag line” that expresses the mission in a few words or a phrase. One well-known parish was identified as “The church that love built.”


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