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Mission – How Not to Get “Lost in Space”

Last December, an article came out that was very critical of NASA. The article was titled “Expert Panel: NASA seems lost in space, needs goal” and very frank about NASA having a lack of a specific mission statement.

“More than two years after the president announced the interim goal of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025, there has been little effort to initiate such a mission,” said the report by a panel of the distinguished National Academy of Sciences.

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In another withering passage, the panel said NASA’s mission and vision statements are so vague and “generic” that they “could apply to almost any government research and development agency, omitting even the words ‘aeronautics’ or ‘space.’”

Quite surprising. According to this panel, the government agency that we associate with sending men to the moon and responsible for the space shuttle missions seemingly has failed to clearly communicate their mission, and stay on the tasks that they have been given. To not include such key words as in “space” or “aeronautics” is rather surprising.

So, how does this apply to worship and worship leadership? Could it be possible too that we don’t clearly communicate what our mission is?

According to the Westminster Catechism, the answer to the question “What is the chief end of man?” is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. Do we help those in our congregations realize our mission–glorifying God and enjoying him? How are we intentional about communicating our mission?

What about the organizations that we are a part of? Is our mission statement clearly defined? Does it drive our thinking? Do members in the organization know it and live by it?

One commenter noted on a post Lessons from the Locker Room “that it takes an organization about 20 times of listening and thinking about an organization’s goals, purposes, visions, etc. until the team members finally internalize these ideas”. That is a lot of repetition, but likely necessary for our organizations to not “get lost in space”.

9 comments to Mission – How Not to Get “Lost in Space”

  • Stephen McCune

    Too true and unfortunate as well. This is an issue in many churches, but no one is willing to confront it. It seems that those of us who notice this are merely pegged as troublemakers or no being “team players.” Of course, it’s hard to be a team player when no one knows the playbook and many are sitting on the bench.

  • Jordan Redfield

    I think this is a really good point. While we certainly can’t expect every member of our congregations to be theological experts, how many do we think would be able to give such a clear answer as to their purpose in life? Or even on why we sing songs to God? Not trying to criticize our congregations by saying this, but rather challenge our worship leaders. I think this brings to light the truth that communicating the mission and purpose of worship needs to be very intentionally accomplished. If you don’t clearly define and relate these things, you can’t expect to see them fulfilled.

  • Joe Bennett

    I love the thought that it takes 20 times pondering a mission statement before it can be truly internalized. It seems that repetition and specificity in mission statements are a must. And if we as worship leaders are not constantly repeating that our mission statement in leading worship is specifically “to glorify God and enjoy him forever,” then I think we run the risk that those around us may subconsciously (even unintentionally) begin to think that our mission statement is “to perform good singalong music and enjoy it together.” Whenever you see a redeemed sinner leading a group of redeemed sinners in worship of a perfectly holy God you should see a group of people who are constantly encouraging each other to remember and ponder anew the mission statement of the gospel.

  • David Johnson

    Wow! This is a great thought. I see this as being a problem with many churches and worship ministries. We need to have a goal of where we want to lead people and how we are going to accomplish it. I think so many times we just lead worship because “that’s what we do” or because that’s “our title,” but sometimes we do not clearly communicate to our worship teams and congregations the goal or mission statement of our ministry. I like the part that you mentioned that it takes 20 times pondering a mission statement before it is really internalized or “second nature.” This is definitely something I am going to start working at in my ministry. I want the people that I serve to know the “mission statement” of my ministry as a worship leader.

  • Isaac Murrell

    I think most of us who become worship pastors, or leaders, at churches after college (or during) will be surprised at the lack of vision and understanding that is present within those given congregations. I remember first hearing the words “mission” and “vision” as a junior in high school. At that time, I hadn’t really talked about it in depth and I didn’t really know what “casting vision” or “mission statements” meant. I didn’t understand or grasp the importance of it. As I have grown since then, I have learned that casting a vision or direction as a leader in general is crucial to the group functioning. If people feel confused, there isn’t much order, not to mention the frustration that will be present. I believe that as worship leaders we are required to lead and shepherd the flock we have been given. This means casting a direction and leading them while not staying idle. It’s almost like a “Ministry DTR.” Communicating vision and teaching why we worship is essential for the flourishing, growth, and edification of the Body. It gets everyone on the same page. Finally, I think this is hard and almost impossible to effectively communicate when visiting a church or putting on a conference. Since there needs to be repetition in stating the vision, it is important to establish it while in a permanent position. Also, I think we will be challenged because we may need to tear down poor visions in churches and implement a new one in order to get everyone one the same page toward a better one. That may sound harsh, but it is likely true.

    I like this topic and what the other guys had to say. ^^

  • Grant McCurdy

    Just a thought on the “20 times” repetition thing… Most of these comments have been hitting on the fact that this is a great statistic to recognize and apply as we strive to shepherd the congregation. But, while it is something we can use in that context, it is something that we should pay attention to in our own lives as well. This is the psychological principle of conditioning, and it can be both good and bad. Since we have been pointing out some advantages of it as a tool I would like to point out some dangers.

    First, if God has something worthwhile to say to us we shouldn’t make him pound it into our heads 20 times before we subconsciously start going along with it. Just like Pavlov’s dogs slobbered when they heard a bell after associating it with food, we can subconsciously be conditioned in this way. But we should be able to deliberately apply a vision after hearing it once if we are engaged in listening and intentional in application. Lets be open to accepting the correct goals and vision after one hearing. Lets be better than average as the people of God.

    As church leaders we need to above reproach in areas of morality. We can become conditioned accept to wrong practices or thinking just by exposing ourselves to media and communicators that endorse their mission and goals. Lets be in the world, but not put our selves in situations that inhibit our ability to resist being of it.

  • Eric M. Stigall

    This is a great point. As Jordan said we can’t expect everyone to be theological experts but we can most certainly choose songs that have a high theological standing. I think clearly communicating are mission to others is crucial. Many churches don’t do well at this today and often the people in the church leave unhappy and unfulfilled. Thanks for the post.

  • Isaac Murrell

    In response to Grant, I think these are good dangers to be aware of, however, I think these may be situational. I think as pastors or leaders in a church, it is our job to remind people of vision and purpose when off track. Clearly, this should be founded on biblical truth. Also, to say that we need to accept what God is saying, the first time we hear it, and apply it is true, but when does that happen consistently? Again, I think this is situational too. I think we have heard what God wants us to do through scripture but continue to get off track. It’s because we are fallen people and need to continually go back to scripture and what God has told and turn toward it. In all, I think what you have said is true, but I don’t think repetition is necessarily dangerous or not needed. I think we need it while in leadership and under leadership because it is helpful.

  • Robert Rhodes

    I think that this could also apply to the music we choose. We want our songs to clearly convey what we believe but we also don’t want to undersell our congregation by doing songs that do not contain any solid food. Music in our churches should make you think in the midst of your worship. We are making some serious promises to God in alot of the music we sing.