A couple of weeks ago in a message I talked about the difference between, vision, mission and strategy. One friend wanted me to repeat it because he said, “You spoke kind of fast for that part.” Go figure. So I figured I would put it on the blog so anyone who wanted to see what I said would have it in writing.
In the message I was talking about how we make decisions based on our mission. I referred to a talk I was having with Jimmy Carroll the pastor of Journey Church here in Raleigh. During our lunch he asked me what I thought the difference was between, vision, mission and strategy. Without really thinking about it, I replied, “Vision is what you see, mission is what you do and strategy is how you do it.” I don’t know if God just gave that to me or if I heard it somewhere else before, but it made sense to me.
Our Vision is what we see. It’s the picture we get of our ultimately desired result. At Southbridge we say we want to see the scriptures lived out in RDU and we believe it starts with us. If God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), then we don’t want anyone to perish in our city. We want everyone to come to a right relationship with God experiencing genuine life transformation from the inside out, experiencing genuine freedom and living the life God intended. We believe the result would be not only reconciled relationships, transformed families, broken addictions and individual changed lives, but that our city as a whole would be changed. We see RDU becoming a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14), where people want to move here (not simply because of jobs, housing costs or because we are close to the beach and mountains), but because the people are different. Where we let our lights so shine before men that they see our good deeds (our lives living out the gospel which permeates everything we do) and glorify our God who is in heaven.
Our Mission – is what we do. For us it is to connect people one at a time, but as many as possible to Jesus for life change. The mission for every church is really the same. We exist to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). We are to go, make disciples (i.e. connect people to Jesus for life change) by baptizing them (the first step of obedience after salvation) in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teach them everything Jesus has taught us (teach them everything we know about living a reconciled life reconciled to God, to other people and to the world around us). God promises us that He will be with us the entire time. The wording and expression of this will and should look different based our cultural context, but the mission is the same for every believer and every church. The expression being different leads us to strategy.
Our Strategy – is how we accomplish the mission to ultimately see the vision become a reality. For us this is everything we do starting with our website (which is often times a persons first experience at Southbridge), continuing to our parking lot team, our greeters, ushers, hospitality team, bridgekids ministry, tech team, set up team, worship team, preaching the Word to follow up team on Sunday mornings. Then our strategy continues during the week by living out or value of community through our community groups (a place where people live life on life together in authentic relationships on mission for the glory of God). Then we try to live out our value of growth through ministries like Fearless Men’s Ministry and Nourish Women’s ministry, our student ministry SYU, our Celebrate Recovery ministry and various other equipping ministries to connect people to Jesus for life change. Everything is evaluated based on life change. That is our strategy. Strategy can and should change over time. We want to do whatever it takes to be most effective in accomplishing our God given mission. That is how I believe vision, mission and strategy differ and simultaneously work together.
For an additional resource on Mission, Vision and Strategy check out one of my friends and seminary professors books entitled: Advanced Strategic Planning by Aubrey Malphurs.