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“GETTING PARSONAL” September 2018

By: Rev. William D. Ingraham

First Church Methuen's Mission Statement

If you’re on Facebook, you’ve likely seen it already — the recently refocused version of the First Church Congregational Mission Statement. The Board worked on it over the summer. We were looking for a way to unite and concentrate all of our efforts as a congregation. We wanted a statement that helps to guide the work each of us is doing, whether its staff members, the Board, a ministry team, committee or any other First Church group. With clarity and focus, we can strive to move in the same direction as a church, concentrating our efforts on the things that matter to us most.

There are many theories as to what an organizational mission statement should look like. One bit of common wisdom is that it should be short and to the point. It should be easily remembered. It should also be clear and easily understood. What good is a mission statement that needs explaining? A good mission statement not only helps to chart a path forward for an organization, but it also sheds light on the key identity of the organization in the present. That is, it identifies both what an organization already is and what the organization intends to accomplish, and to become. Done right, a mission statement identifies your strengths and calls forth your best potential.

Here’s the focused version of our Mission Statement:

Seeking God.

Caring for each other.

Improving our community.

Three sentences comprise our newly focused First Church Congregational Mission Statement. Only nine words! As the statement evolved, the Board was clear that there is nothing new in this statement. Everything in the refocused statement is found in our existing, more detailed mission statement. In the same way, it feels like a good description of who we already are. That is, if you want to tell a new visitor, or a neighbor, or a colleague, or anybody else about First Church, these nine words would give them a good idea of what they’ll find if they come and join us for worship, fellowship or service. In the few months since this process began, I’ve been trying out these nine words in my own work as Senior Pastor of the church. It’s helped to guide the crafting of my sermons and has influenced how I pray, both in worship and meetings, and in my personal prayer life. It has guided my planning, both in the short and long term. And it has become essential to how I describe our church to colleagues and friends, to leaders in the community, and to people who enquire about the church. I keep the words before me all the time. They are a starting point for me, and a guide. They offer a test and a measure. They remind me of who I want to be as a person of faith, and my posture as a citizen of the world.

The Board and I invite you to ponder these three simple sentences with us. How do they touch you? What influence do they have in your participation in our church’s life, from week to week and day to day? And more importantly, are they, or can they become, descriptive of you in your day to day life?

See you in church…

- Bill

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