If you have ever written a paper you know how important (and hard to craft) a thesis statement is. This statement sums up the whole paper and focuses your thoughts in a particular direction, and ultimately determines what is and is not important to the project. What thesis statements are to papers vision statements are to organizations. Vision statements boil down what the organization is about and where it wants to focus its attention. Without a clear vision statement ministries can ramble off course and out of alignment.
As I prepared to come to plant a church, I felt developing a vision statement and strategic plans would be essential, and so I began working on this well before coming to Bridgeway. Once I came to Bridgeway, I realized the elders also felt a new vision was vital, and we quickly got to work on this. I shared with the elders what I was thinking and we had a great process of refining and sharpening the words. I wanted to make sure to plant the church the area needed and not the church in my head. The elders and others helped to make this happen, and we were all excited with the end result. Below is our new visions statement for Bridgeway Church and some explanation on each part.
Bridgeway Vision Statement:
Worshipping God. Loving Others.
Influencing the world… one person at a time.
First, we wanted to have a mission statement that reflected the main aspects of the Christian faith. We didn’t want to have at the forefront of our church things that are secondary in Scripture. We want what is prominent in the Bible to be prominent in our church. In this vision statement is a combination of the greatest commandment, the second greatest commandment, and the great commission.
We chose worshipping God because everything starts there. Worshipping God, and him alone, is what we are commanded to do (Ex 20:4-5). We are to love him with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind (Deu 6:4, Matt 22:37). If we fail here as a church then we fail at everything else. We want to worship him Sundays at church but also Monday-Friday at work. We want to worship him in all we think, do, and say.
We chose loving others because this is the second greatest commandment (Matt 22:39). This is our principle disposition toward all other people. We want to love them and serve them. We want to be a community known by the love we have for one another (John 13:34-35). We also want to be active in the larger community where we are getting to know them and looking for ways to share the love of Christ with them.
We chose influencing the world because we want to so love others that we leave a mark on them. Jesus gave a commission to his disciples to go and make other disciples (Matt 28:19-20). We want to influence others so that they will worship God and love others. That is our main goal, but we also want to have an influence that is much broader. We want to serve and help the poor regardless of if they become disciples. We want to help the lost and hurting regardless of if they ever come in our doors. When we go to work or school we want to have an influence that blesses others. God created people to influence the world (Gen 1:26,28) and we want to do that to God’s glory. We believe teaching others to honor God in every part of life is a key part of making true disciples.
We added the last line “one person at a time” because big goals can sometimes be so big we never know where to begin. We want each person to know that every day they have a part to play in our mission. We don’t want to neglect the people right around us in effort to reach the world. Influencing the world begins right we are are.
We are very excited about this vision statement because we believe God is helping us focus our efforts as a church so that we can go and do these things. I had a person tell me he anticipated it taking 6-12 months to come up with a vision statement. We did it in two months. I have done a lot of things in record time that my teachers or bosses were not excited about, so I give God all the glory for a quick but unrushed statement that people are excited about. I think (and pray) it is a sign of a group of people beginning to come together focused on a new common goal.
I’ll do a post soon on other elements of our key strategic plans.