How to Make Vision For Your Church Actually Stick

Posted by Aaron Buer on May 16, 2019

A few weeks ago, I experienced a frustrating conversation.

Someone on my staff was talking with a few of our volunteers and when I walked up to say hello to everyone, my staff member asked if we had a mission statement.

I was like, “Wut?!? In front of our volunteers you don’t know our mission statement?”

In my mind, everyone knows our mission statement because...well, everyone knows!

We talk about it all the time, right?

I guess not.

My initial thought was, “You’re fired.”

But then I remembered that when the team doesn’t know the vision and mission it’s leadership’s fault.

So, I fired myself.

Ok. Not really.

But it did make me ask some tough questions about how we are reinforcing our vision with our team.

And so, this post is more for me than you, but here are some thoughts on making vision ACTUALLY stick.


What’s the point of having a mission statement anyway?

Isn’t it that your team would grab hold of that mission and run with it?

That we would see progress and movement.

That we would actually see the mission accomplished.

In order for that to happen, everyone has to own it.

In order to do that, they have to understand it.

It has to be clear and compelling.

My point is this: A mission statement must be short and it must be very clear.

In fact, if you can’t boil your mission statement down to one word then you have more work to do.

For our student ministry, the one word is identity.

For our church as a whole the one word is relationship.

All I’m trying to say is that if your mission statement is about “this, this, and this other thing,” then it won’t stick.

Your mission statement must simply be about “this.”

Stickiness requires a singular focus.


You’ll never believe this but when I was in college, the woman who is now my wife didn’t fall instantly in love with me.

Unbelievable right?!?

I had to convince her that I really cared about her and would stick around.

How did I convince her?

I didn’t do something big.

I didn’t take her to an MLB game and put a message on the giant scoreboard.

I didn’t take her on an epic all-day date.

All I did was keep showing up with the same message.

Instead of doing something big, I did a million small things day after day and week after week.

Eventually, either through fatigue or love, I finally convinced her.

It might sound dumb but I believe that making vision stick works the same way.

We often think we need to do something big—a big all-day event, an off-site, a guest speaker, a giant poster on the wall.

Sometimes these things help but it is much more effective to reinforce vision and mission in small ways, day after day and week after week.

In my experience, the best way to make vision stick is to bring it up in one-on-ones and departmental staff meetings every week, in weekly update emails, hallway conversations and thank you cards.

All I’m trying to say is that when it comes to making vision stick, think smaller instead of bigger and look for ways to reinforce vision in everyday conversations—especially when you can do it through praising behavior that models the mission.

Make It Matter

It seems to me that most of the time, when people think of their mission statement, they think “that’s nice.”

Or, “wouldn’t that be great.” What I mean is that our vision is compelling in a far off, utopian future sort of way. It’s doesn’t matter all that much right now.

In order to make vision stick, we have to make it matter right now.

It must have immediate impact. To make this happen, we have to find ways to measure it and hold people accountable to it.

How do you do this?

You have to understand what activities and actions most directly influence your mission and then measure those actions and activities and hold your people accountable to them.

For example, the student ministry team that I lead, our mission statement is “to ground student’s identity in Christ.” We believe that the three activities that ground a student’s identity in Christ are:

  1. Life-changing truth
  2. Life-changing relationships (specifically, small groups)
  3. Life-changing experiences (mission trips, retreats, etc)

If this is true, then we have to hold our ministry accountable to these three activities by measuring them.

So, for us, the biggest measurable is small group leader attendance.

In our structure, the small group leader is the primary spiritual influencer.

He or she is the discipler.

They are the driver for life-changing relationships.

Our small group leaders show up every week, their students typically show up to engage with life-changing truth.

Also, it is through the small group leader’s influence that we stand the best chance of getting students to attend a retreat or a mission trip, which are life-changing experiences.

Point is that small group leader attendance is the THE most important measurable for our ministry.

So, we hold ourselves accountable and measure small group leader attendance on a weekly basis.

You see what I mean here?

Our mission is identity.

That’s tough to measure, especially since we don’t often see the fruit of our work until a student is in their 20s.

So, we measure what we know most directly impacts our mission.

We’ve done the hard work of thinking and debating on this. You’ll have to do the same in your ministry and in your church.

But, if you do, you can make your mission matter now.

Wrap Up

I hope this has been helpful.

Writing this post has been a good reminder for me, to help me remember how vision actually sticks, and like I said, I have some work to do.

We’d love to keep the conversation going. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Topics: Advice

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