Friday, December 9, 2011

"We actually show up!"

I was driving my daughter to work the other day and got behind a white pickup truck, obviously used for work with a compressor and tools in the back.  The sides were painted with advertising for an irrigation and yard work company.  What really caught my attention was the slogan painted on the back window of the cab.  It was in large white letters, in italics.
We actually show up!

You know, (please read this in your best sarcastic tone) you don't want to set the bar so high you can't reach it!

Now that you've decided that your passion for your cause has become a calling, you need to define your mission.  A mission should be the overarching goal of your ministry or nonprofit - not too specific and not too vague. Looking towards the future, just outside of reach right now, but always in sight.  It should be simple, clear, and the guiding factor of everything that you do.

I've chatted with a bunch of new ministries, and heard a lot of "elevator speeches" explaining what they do.  Some are spot on with their mission, easily understood, set high enough but not too high, and focused.

I recently talked with a young ministry that had a lot of passion and high ideals.  A natural question, I asked them to explain to me what their mission is.  The next 10 minutes included talks on the pro-life movement, advocacy for life, reaching out the Gen X crowd, open Bible studies in the parks, connecting churches together in our county, serving persecuted Christians overseas, working with orphans internationally, and combating sexual traffic worldwide.  From what I understood, this new ministry had about a half dozen volunteers, and each one of these passions was the calling for one of the volunteers.

While I admire the passion for each of these topics, all of them together will create so much confusion and a multitude of directions that a ministry this small will wither away from attrition.  People with a passion and a calling need others with the same passion and calling to join forces and make an impact.  When multiple people are combined with a common mission, they can achieve so much more than just the sum of each of them.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12

And combining that common focus with simplicity is key, especially with a start-up organization.  It's possible to set the bar high and yet keep the concept simple.  Define the target group or cause that you want to serve and explain what you will do to make their lives better or change things for good.

YouthReach International has a good one - "Equipping orphans and at-risk children for success in life through spiritual development, positive role models, and practical skills."  This is simple, clear, and understandable.

Who are they serving?     Orphans and At-Risk Kids.
What are they doing?       Spiritual development, positive role models, and practical skills

When talking with anyone at YouthReach, you'll hear them say it like this, "We mentor orphans."

Pretty simple, huh?  And understandable.  Everything that happens in this complex ministry is filtered through that mission statement.  Is the goal set high enough?  There are 163 Million orphans in the world - they've got their hands full.

So get to work.  Define who your target audience is, who you will serve, how you will serve them. Simplify and clarify your mission.  Set the goal high.  Be focused about what it is you are called to do.

And then do much more than just show up.

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff, David. Much needed advice for new ministry efforts. Define the need, focus your strengths and then go do it!