Does Lifestyle Centric Understanding of Church = Mission Statement?

I’ve been struggling with the difference between an Activities Centric understand of church vs. a Lifestyle Centric understanding of church.  You can read an overview by clicking here.

When I first started working all this through in my head I struggled to find see the difference between having a lifestyle centric understanding of church and having a mission statement.

Before we get to far lets all get on the same page.   My definition of a “mission statement” is a short clear statement that encapsulates the vision of the organization and guides it systems.  In the four different churches I’ve lived with I’ve participated in writing five missions statements.  We would sit in cool environments.  Listen to the top dog talk about his vision.  Then process together how we wanted to chase the dream and how it could be easily communicated to the congregation.  (Often these steps would take months.)  Finally came the rough job of lining our systems up to accomplish the mission.  That was the hard part.  We weren’t always successful.

Mission statements and a life style centric understanding of the Church (from here on LC Understanding) do have something in common – both work to use the tools (activities) to accomplish an end.   I’ve seen churches use good mission statements with discipline to keep the means from taking over and replacing the end.

But there are three major differences that make building an LC Understanding different than building a mission statement:

1. Mission statements are used at a macro level to keep activities in a functional system that accomplishes a goal.  LC Understanding lives in the micro level of individuals creating an open sourced goal that each individual processes and experiments with.

2. Mission statements are focused on accomplishing the vision of leadership.  This is not a bad thing.  In fact for an institution I believe it is fundamental.  Sadly though it elevates the visionary leadership to a place of authority and power.  In contrast an LC Understanding does not stem from a centralized vision.  Rather it empowers individuals to form their own vision placing value on the individual over the centralized leadership.  Leaders then take on the role of coach and servant.

3. Mission statements serve as river banks – all activities and ideas of an institution flow inside them.  In essence they are intended to limit group activities only to those that accomplish the mission.     An LC Understanding looks to keep group activity minimal and encourages experimentation with the lifestyle at the individual level.  An LC Understanding does not establish river banks.  Instead it opens flood gates.

So while I do see some similarities between forming an LC Understanding of church and building a mission statement.  They are not the same thing.

Does Lifestyle Centric Understanding of Church = Mission Statement?

4 thoughts on “Does Lifestyle Centric Understanding of Church = Mission Statement?

  1. I see a mission statement as that summary that continually reminds us of what we should be doing. It’s the “what” and not necessarily the “how.” Looking at it that way, I think a mission statement still works in this situation — though it might be a very different kind of mission statement.

    1. jeffandwendy says:

      I agree with that. Maybe the reason they feel different to me is that I have always taken a mission statement and figured out how activities can then accomplish it; so the mission statement ends up being a guideline for institutional action – a tool to say “no” to some things and “yes” to others. Statements that define a lifestyle centric understanding of church aren’t then taken and used to build institutional activity. They are rather used by each individual to shape his/her life. Does that make sense?

      1. How is this new statement any different from a mission statement? It sounds as though these individuals would be taking the statement being made and using that to say no to some things and yes to others. When you bring these individuals together their common mission statements are going to determine what is and what isn’t done as a group… right?

  2. jeffandwendy says:

    If I had to summarize the difference in a different way I guess I would say…

    A mission statement is used by those in authority to determine how best to line the systems of an institution up. It assumes the congregation will operate as a collective and thus seeks to keep the activities of the collective focused on accomplishing the collective mission.

    While a LC Understanding statement is still a collective statement (in that the whole group is working under the same statement) the LC Understanding assume people will operate not as a collective but rather outside of the collective as individual missionaries in the community. Individuals take an LC Understanding statement and apply it to their world freely.

    When it comes to collective gatherings, mission statements assume the life of the group will happen in those collective groupings. LC Understandings rather see gatherings or collective activity as secondary and a by product of what is happening with the individuals. So when LC Understanding (I need shorter titles) crew gathers their gathering does not stem from the statement itself, but rather from how the statements are being worked through by the group members. Does that make sense? Would an example help?

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