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To be successful, every organization, church, or business needs a clearly defined mission and vision. (Tweet this) Without defined goals, processes, and systems, nothing can be measured or evaluated. No progress can be made.

The challenge for leaders young and old is not understanding the power and importance of these two vital identity components. The challenge is understanding their basic function and how they relate to each other.

I often see churches that have two mission statements, but no vision. This is so common it’s actually the norm. Churches have catchy, clever, and carefully crafted slogans that they call a vision but that represent little meaning to the actual operational direction. As I train our team at First Christian Church Student Ministry, and as I coach other leaders to develop and implement strategic vision within their organization, I explain these concepts in a simple, clear way. Here’s what it looks like:

STEP ONE: IDENTIFY YOUR CURRENT POSITION

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Before you can identify a calling or craft a mission, vision or strategy, you have to have a clear understanding of where you are. This is difficult because it requires brutal honesty. Leaders must pursue truthful feedback from members of their organization, because as leaders our perception is often a skewed or biased version of reality. We have to seek real answers to serious questions about our identity and direction. Once we’ve identified our position, we can begin to pursue mission.

STEP TWO: IDENTIFY WHERE YOU WANT TO BE

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Mission is the concept of where we want to be. If this process was a roadtrip, mission would be your destination. For different kinds of organizations, the process of identifying our mission will be very different. For a church, it might have to do with what kind of impact you want to make in your community or a felt need or specific demographic you feel God calling you to meet or reach out to. For a water charity, it might be to bring clean water to poverty-stricken villages in a particular country. For a business, it might be to impact your community or culture by offering your product or service to your clients in order to change or improve their lives.

Identifying mission should always be a process. It’s not something you can sit down in a room and figure out in an afternoon. It should take careful thought, consideration, evaluation, and even prayer. Tough questions should be asked and honest feedback should be considered. This should not be done by one person, but a carefully selected team who understand the organization and the current position you’re in. (Sidenote: Jim Collins speaks well to this in his book, Good to Great. For a summary, check out this article on his website…just scroll down to the heading, “Disciplined People: ‘Who’ Before ‘What'”) Get this team together, and spend significant time pursuing the answer to the question of your ultimate direction, which is your mission.

Once you know where you’re headed, you can talk vision.

STEP THREE: IDENTIFY YOUR PLAN OF ACTION

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Your vision is your articulated plan for how you’ll get where you want to go. If mission is your destination, vision is your roadmap. A healthy and successful vision should explain the steps you’ll collectively take in order to accomplish your mission. It should be spelled out in such a way that it’s easily understandable and attainable to every member of your organization. Every individual should be able to hear your vision and quickly identify how they can unite with you, rally around your mission, and be a part of moving your organization forward.

One of the best examples I’ve seen of an organization that nailed this is Granger Community Church. They launched their 2016 vision campaign, called “Raising the Bar,” a couple of years ago. They communicated their vision to their people in a number of ways, one of which was a PDF document that clearly explained their vision in three key areas that were an acrostic for the word “BAR”: (1) Be the Church, (2) Active the Campus, (3) Reproduce at Every Level. Each of those three areas had specific, articulated goals so that every person could find their area of involvement according to their talents, abilities and passions.

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Vision should equip the members of your team and organization to unite and rally together to accomplish your mission. (Tweet this) It should lend itself to a clearly defined “win” so that people can see tangible progress as you move forward together.

No matter what kind of organization you lead or are a part of, understanding these concepts is absolutely vital to long-term success and sustainability. How does your mission and vision contribute to the health and vitality of your organization? What do you need to do to grow in these areas? The answers to these questions can be life-changing.

I would love to hear from you. How do you define mission and vision? What are your thoughts on this subject? Share your wisdom and experience with me and with others.

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