It’s a strange old thing. You can be working manically in your business doing everything you can to keep things afloat; winning clients, fulfilling orders, getting distributors, tweaking your marketing and completely forgetting the point of it all. But your mission statement is there to keep you on track, focused on who your business is serving and to help prevent you from being distracted. It’s your statement of direction and action and if you’re a Christian business owner you’ll want to have some Biblical direction to the reason you’re in business. It’s a little different from a vision statement, though. You can find out here how to write a bible-inspired vision statement but here’s a guide to working out your own bible-based mission statement.
Why a mission statement is essential.
First up we have to acknowledge a fact. Mission Statements aren’t always popular. That’s because too many are jargon-filled, meaningless verbiage to describe missions that will never happen or there just to make the company sound good and lofty.
There are a number of joke mission statement generators on the web. It’s a good bit of fun. Here’s one I randomly generated. It’s so scary, it’s almost real:
It is our business to continually network market driven and value-added meta-services without losing sight of our original goal to assertively and quickly integrate timely user communities.
Wow. You couldn’t make it up, but people do.
A shame because a really good mission statement is a powerful rallying tool. Let’s look at a proper example to show you what I mean:
To enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.
Nice. You may know whose it is, it’s the BBC of course.
It captures the essence of a good mission statement because it describes what you do, ‘programmes and services’ why you do it, ‘to enrich people’s lives’ and how you do it, by ‘informing, educating, and entertaining. The who for is implicit in the word ‘people’, they, of course, being the BBC’s audience, which is massive.
You can see how a mission statement like this keeps the business on the right tracks, every day. The BBC I’m sure could do so many other things but it would quickly lose its purpose. For example, it may be tempted to diversify into broadband services, but that would undermine its core mission to produce programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.
You as a business owner need to clarify your mission because you too will be faced with different opportunities that might just sink your business by wasting time and focus.
The mission statement needs to be kept in your back pocket at all times. It will guide you on where to go and remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
What does the Bible say about having a mission statement?
All very well but as a Christian owned business, what does the Bible have to say about what your mission statement could look like and if you even should have one at all?
It’s kind of ironic that the commercial world has ‘borrowed’ the word mission for it’s own usage. There’s no doubt in my mind that the passionate commitment to a focused cause (in this case a business one) can’t help but reflect the Christian roots of the word. High time for Christians to get our word back and use mission in business in the widest way, drawing on and fulfilling its original Christian meaning.
The word origin of a mission is interesting in itself. Its roots are firstly in the classical latin word mittere, meaning ‘to send’, it changes in medieval times to missio, meaning a task assigned and finally the word mission appears in new Latin from the Renaissance. The modern usage originates with the Jesuit order who sent missionaries to countries abroad.
But the Latin variations of a mission are an expression of the call of the New Testament writings to go out into the world for the purposes of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, his resurrection and promise of new life. We know it as the Great Commission. I don’t want to sound facile by likening Jesus great command to a business plan, but isn’t this much-quoted scripture a kind of a mission statement for the early church?
‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ Matthew 28:19-20.
This is where I find an intriguing parallel with how the early Christians approached mission by putting into words these same commandments for all subsequent generations of believers to direct their faith. Your mission, ‘go and make…’
What does this mean then for the use of a mission statement in your business? Well if the early followers of Jesus, lead by the Holy Spirit, saw it wise to get a clear sense of what their mission is, we who run our businesses should be the same. Especially given our business is to be used for God’s purposes and glory.
How does the Bible guide your own mission statement for your business?
The Bible provides plenty of guidance on how we should live our life and conduct our relationships. We can apply these ethics equally to how we do business as much as our relationships and community life. In fact, the desire to guide your businesses toward a ‘higher calling’ is needed now, more than ever. We will give business ethics its own blog but for the purposes of finding your mission statement, you should consider some of the following issues to build into your business’s mission.
How does your business respect and develop your employees or freelance staff?
How does your business make the lives of your customers, truly better?
Does your business consider the environmental footprint you have?
Your business should cause no harm in its practices.
When you pray, your kingdom come, what does that specifically look like in the business and could that be expressed in your mission statement?
An effective example:
To follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.
World Vision, of course, are a charity with particular social goals and not a business but it’s interesting to note how their Christian mission is foundational to their aims and existence. Could you write something like this for your business? It may not have the explicit language of the bible as seen here but it could well be centred around bible values.
Let’s get writing…
We can look at some specifics around writing your mission statement. A helpful way to approach this is to see whether your mission statement covers these what, why, who and how categories of the business. Not every mission statement has to cover all these, some don’t, but it’s helpful to try to consider each of them to make sure you don’t miss anything important. You may want to emphasise one of the categories that really speaks to your business’s mission and purpose. It might be to change the way something is done in the world (the how), describe it when what you do is so important (the what), help a group of people (the who), or touch on a deeper purpose (the why).
‘The What’ for writing your Bible inspired mission statement.
The most obvious place to start is the what’ part of your statement. ‘The what’ should reflect your offer. What job is it you do for your customers or clients and what is the value that you bring to them? Some bigger brands don’t state their ‘what’ in their mission statement because everybody knows. But here’s an example of one that does, Google:
Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
This clearly illustrates ‘the what’, organising information as well as the value the company brings, making that information accessible and useful.
Consider if your business should have the what you do stated clearly and the value it brings.
‘The Why’ for writing your Bible inspired mission statement.
Why does your business do what it does? It could be to create something unique or valuable for your customers. It could be that your mission is to change something for the better.
Walmart’s mission statement, for example, is focused almost entirely on the why:
Helps people around the world save money and live better.
Starbuck’s mission statement is another that really focuses on the why:
To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
Given the prevalence of Starbucks coffee shops all around the world, they’re certainly delivering on their mission! If your business has a strong ‘why’ then that should be strongly expressed in the mission statement. It’s likely the driving idea that got you to do what you do in the first place.
‘The Who’ for writing your Bible inspired mission statement.
It really helps to know who your business is for! Often missions statements talk about ‘our customers’. That’s fine but could you write it slightly differently? A previous mission statement from Amazon gets very specific about who:
We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises and content creators.
Amazon, in this case, are very clear about who should benefit most from their customer-centric mission. It reflects the breadth of the company and the different users that contribute to the business’s success. It’s for them that their mission is focused on. If your business is more about serving a particular customer group, then that should be what’s emphasised in the mission statement.
‘The How’ for writing your Bible inspired mission statement.
Some mission statement’s focus on a ‘how’, that sums up how the company is going to deliver its mission. Expedia’s mission statement is a case in point:
Our mission is to revolutionize travel through the power of technology.
The travel industry has changed dramatically in the last decade. Consumers are now far more likely to buy, check out and research their travel and holiday options almost entirely online. If your mission is focused on changing how business is done in a particular sector, then the how of that is a really interesting mission focus.
Some more things to consider with your mission statement:
Your mission statement should be clear and concise.
Unlike a vision statement, your mission statement can be communicated externally as well as internally.
When it comes to creating one and you have an existing team or stakeholders do use them to bounce ideas and help you to refine what your mission is. Get everyone who has a stake in the business involved. Remember your mission has to speak clearly to your employees and to anyone else who has an interest in what you do.
Also, do check out your competitor’s mission statement too. It’ll help you with developing your own positioning in relation to your sector.
Remember it’s your mission to the world. Don’t hide it under a bushel!
Lastly, your mission statement should speak to your purpose for the business. Finding your purpose is important for any business and it’s something we’ll cover in another blog. As Christian entrepreneurs, one of the what, why, who and how categories will resonate with you and your calling for the business. Continue to pray for your mission, develop it, live it out and finally fulfil it. That’s the greatest answer to prayer for any business owner.
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Jeremy © Not Only Sundays, February 2017.
Scripture quoted from the NIV translation.
images sourced on www.pixabay.com image under a creative commons licence CC.