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.