Church & Mission Statements

In the “chapter” on M words, he says this about mission statements: “No public body these days, it seems, feels it has done its duty until it has produced what it will probably call a ‘mission statement’ in the form of a participial phrase: ‘Providing jobs and services’ (typical town council), ‘Working to make London safer’ (the Metropolitan Police), and so forth…. And when many around us seem to be trampling all over each other to rush hell-bent like lemmings after the Pied Piper, how can we form authentic disciple-congregations who are better-schooled in the odd language of the Bible than they are in the alluring tunes of the religious hucksters?

Chris Erdman has a great post today. Here it is in its entirety:

Chris Erdman writes: My aversion to the common practice of creating church mission statements is well articulated in this quote from a book called “Between You and I – A Little Book of Bad English.” It’s by James Cochrane educated at Cambridge University UK and an editor for Penguin Books since 1961. In the “chapter” on M words, he says this about mission statements:

“No public body these days, it seems, feels it has done its duty until it has produced what it will probably call a ‘mission statement’ in the form of a participial phrase: ‘Providing jobs and services’ (typical town council), ‘Working to make London safer’ (the Metropolitan Police), and so forth. Two noticed recently are: ‘Making knowledge work’ (the University of Bradford) and ‘Connecting people with God’ (St. Mary’s Church of England, Islington, London.)

“What is it about these phrases that is so irritating? In the case of St. Mary’s, Islington, perhaps it is the sheer vulgarity of reducing the raison d’etre of the church to a glib commercial slogan, no doubt in the name of ‘accessibility,’ ‘relevance,’ or ‘youth appeal.’ More generally it may be a sense of the essential dishonesty of ‘statements’ which, like the verbless sentences of Prime Minister Tony Blair, are not really statements at all but merely vague aspirations for which no one can properly be held to account.”

Irritating and vulgar are good words for what I feel about trying to reduce the vocation that gospel has in mind for us to a handy slogan that might with very little alteration be used to sell beer or tampons. How much is such a practice merely pandering to the “peddling” that St. Paul too found vulgar and irritating (2 Corinthians 2.17)?

And when many around us seem to be trampling all over each other to rush hell-bent like lemmings after the Pied Piper, how can we form authentic disciple-congregations who are better-schooled in the odd language of the Bible than they are in the alluring tunes of the religious hucksters?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s