Experts tell us that churches should explore their mission and vision, by exploring their core values, every five years. It turns out, we haven’t done this for decades! Why is this work so important? Because doing the work, as a community, around creating a mission and vision helps us focus our time, energy, and resources into living into our shared values. A strong mission and vision acts as a beacon for us to follow, guiding our choices. It also acts as a hearth around which we can gather, sharing stories and companionship with each other.
I also think it’s important to note that UU congregations in particular need to do mission and vision work regularly because we are free from creeds and dogmas. While a Christian church can often get by for decades on a mission based in Biblical stories of Jesus (heal the sick, feed the poor, care for each other), our freedom from canonical texts means that we must put the effort into articulating our shared morals, and the ethics that arise from those shared morals, into mission and vision.
It’s also pledge drive and budget season, and our budget is a moral document. It’s a financial statement of how we are expressing our commitment to building and sustaining a caring, welcoming community that also works to make our world a better place. The budget line for the mission/work is a big investment because we have not done this work in a very long time. Think of it as hiring someone to help you with the first big deep clean of a place that has been well loved and lived in for many years. That first session will cost more than future care of your home because there is so much work to do — and in the end, your home is still your home, just easier to live in, and more welcoming to all you invite inside.
This mission/vision process that we are engaging in next year will utilize what we already know about ourselves and our shared values, the histories and traditions that make this congregation so special, and our hopes and dreams for the future to provide us with a foundation upon which we can build our future together. Once we have done this deep, extensive process, we can do less intensive “maintenance” cleans going forward, ensuring that we stay both vital as a community and relevant to the needs of our greater world. We are investing now so that we may reap greater harvests for us all in the years to come.
In gratitude and faith,