Did you ever see the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as “Joliet” Jake and Elwood Blues? The movie is one of redemption for the two brothers who take on “a mission from God” to save the Catholic orphanage, in which they grew up, from foreclosure. To do so, they must reunite their R&B band and organize a performance to earn $5,000 to pay the tax assessor. Along the way, they are targeted by a destructive “mystery woman”, Neo-Nazis, and a country and western band—all while being relentlessly pursued by the police.
The movie features some great blues performances as well as some hilarious situations that the band finds themselves in as they try to find the money to save the orphanage. The brothers find the money and save the orphanage.
“We’re on a mission from God” is the catch phrase that has stuck with me ever since I saw the movie. I have used it many times in my work for the UUA. Isn’t that what we are doing in our congregations? While we might broadly define God according to our theology, we are all on a mission.
And what, you may ask, is our mission? Within Unitarian Universalism there is no generic mission to which all congregations must subscribe. One of the Ends of the UUA focuses on mission. “Congregations and communities are covenanted, accountable, healthy, and mission driven.” I interpret this to mean that a mission needs to be at the heart of everything a congregation does. We lead workshops to help congregations identify the mission that guides them.
There are three simple elements to a good mission statement: (1) A mission statement should be no longer than a single sentence, (2) It should be easily understood by a 12-year-old, and (3) It can be recited by memory even under stress, is inspiring, exciting, clear, true, and engaging.
This might be your most difficult decision as a congregation. If you’re writing a one-sentence or one-paragraph mission statement, your job will more likely be more complicated, not less. A bulleted mission statement is easier, but may not accomplish what you want. Key statements that can be used to build a mission statement are:
Statement of Purpose: What inspirational purpose appeals to higher values in both your members and the larger public? Statement of Value: Identify values that form a link to the organization’s strategy that members can be proud of.
Statement of Character: What is the organizational culture?
Good missions are grounded in values. Can you guess what the values are in these mission statements from some of our congregations?
All Souls, DC: “A Diverse, Spirit-Growing, Justice-Seeking Community.”
Annapolis, MD: “Committed to Creating a Multicultural Anti-Racist, Anti-Oppressive Community.”
Wellsprings, Exton, PA: “A Community Charged Full With the Charge Of The Soul.”
Germantown, Philadelphia, PA: “Different People. Different Beliefs, One Faith.”
Newark, DE: “The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark is a community of spiritual seekers inspired to promote a just and compassionate world.”
If you want to create a mission driven congregation, contact us and we can help you create that mission.
Yours in the Faith,