Vision. Mission. Great Commission. What's the difference? Doesn't every church have the same basic thing? What difference does it make anyway?
Great questions. Vision is a compelling preferred future condition that is so strong that one can’t help but be driven and passionate about achieving it. A vision is a snap shot, a picture that motivates and inspires people so completely that it will not fade away. Other words that describe vision are: appropriate, unique, high ideals, provide purpose and direction, inspires enthusiasm and commitment, easily articulated, ambitious and reflects what is unique about you. It is the "what" of the organization or better the “what you want to be” and big picture of your organization and what you are aiming at. Leadership is required for Vision. Vision requires a “visionary” (or visionaries) who see(s) the possibilities.
Then a Mission (statement)? A mission statement is a clear, concise statement that describes the “how “of the organization. It is the way or the how you will live into your vision. The mission and mission statement get practical and concrete, including specific targets or areas of effort. Mission requires “missionaries” to carry out the work.
So how does this differ from the Great Commission? Good question. Both the Vision and Mission will include and be informed and shaped by the priorities of the biblical imperatives given by Christ. They will align the congregation to these ends as commanded by Jesus. That does not mean articulating a Vision and Mission are unnecessary. Vision and Mission are specific for your given context. They take into account where your ministry is at a given time with your specific resources and gifts, and then consider the needs of the "Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria" in which God has placed you. With all those things in mind the Vision (What) and the Mission (How) articulate "what" you want to look like in the future and "how" you will focus your efforts to get there.
Vision may sound like "being words" who you are in that preferred future...and mission may sound like "doing words" as they describe what people, efforts and ministries you will focus on as you live into that future. And God willing it will be in keeping with Jesus' will in making disciples.
But what difference does it make anyway? We'll still be doing the same basic things: worship, Bible study, service activities, fellowship actives and so on. Maybe. There is a real phenomenon known as "mission drift" that occurs. Short term issues arise, in house concerns or tensions that can cause a ministry to drift to an internal focus can happen. Or worse the tyranny of the urgent takes over. When that begins to happen the whole reason for your existence is lost. What you will then be doing will become mere busy work with the occasional good thing happening. The truth is that God has only given us so much time, resources and so forth and we would do well to be good stewards of those things for His sake. Vision refocusses on the passion for your existence and what you are striving to be in His name. Mission defines how you will get there and of course the great commission, disciples who make disciples, gives shape to these things as well as God's desire to love one another, be salt and light to the community and so on. Vision and mission statements provide intentionality and focus while guarding against mission drift
1. What are you driven to become as a ministry (vision)? Is that your real vision or have you settled on some other standard?
2. How will you get there? Do you concentrate your efforts on these things or are you trying to please everyone (mission drift)?
3. Is where you are going and how you are getting there biblical and God pleasing? Are you making disciples who make disciples?