What, exactly, is the difference between an organization’s mission and its vision? For a time, I thought they were synonymous. But they are different, and they each have a different purpose.
Vision is the big picture, much like spirit. It is that which we hold up as our highest possible expression. From Latin visio, it means to see. What can we see as the greatest expression of our identity—that which, if reached (and it is usually impossible to fully reach) would absolutely change the world for the better. It is more general than the mission because it casts a wider net. According to the site topnonprofits.com, the vision statement is “a one-sentence statement describing the clear and inspirational long-term desired change resulting from an organization or program’s work.” Here are some examples of various company’s vision statements:
Habitat for Humanity: A world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Make-A-Wish: Our vision is that people everywhere will share the power of a wish
Special Olympics: To transform communities by inspiring people throughout the world to open their minds, accept and include people with intellectual disabilities and thereby anyone who is perceived as different.
Creative Commons: Our vision is nothing less than realizing the full potential of the Internet—universal access to research and education, full participation in culture—to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.
Here is the vision of Unity Worldwide Ministries:
A world powerfully transformed through the growing movement of shared spiritual awakening.
The mission statement of an organization describes how it intends to achieve the vision. From mission—to send—it is the action required to move toward the vision. It is something that may require re-visiting from time to time to see if the activities of the organization still align with the mission, or if the mission needs to be updated to reflect the organization’s current consciousness. In other words, once you have done what you set out to do, and there is more to do toward accomplishing the vision, it’s time to review the mission.
The mission should be exciting, filled with a sense of purpose. It is wise to make it known to all—we state it in the service most Sundays. I was once at a church where each board meeting began with a reading, in unison, of the mission, vision and values. I could not relate to the mission statement, and asked about it after being there for some time. I was told that it was a real wordsmith battle to come up with what they had, so it was pieced together by the strongest egos. One board meeting, right after the reading, I asked everyone to turn their papers over and for anyone to tell me what the mission was. One or two got somewhat close, but nobody knew it. Then I asked what it meant to them, and it didn’t mean much. (No surprise there!) That’s when I knew it was time for us to embark on a new mission statement.
Mission of Unity Worldwide Ministries:
Advancing the movement of spiritual awakening and transformation through Unity, a positive path for spiritual living.
The values of the organization are those which the organization holds dearest. Getting clear on the values is probably the best place to start, if you are needing to begin or overhaul the mission/vision/values. Either have an open meeting of your church to discover and articulate the top five or six values you hold as a group consciousness, or have a representative group (like the board, or a specially-appointed committee [team]) work on this. Make sure you have buy-in from the greater organization. With each value, share how that value shows up in the best ways. This becomes the blueprint for the mission statement, which leads to the overall vision. Of course, continuity is vital.
The values of Unity Worldwide Ministries are as follows:
- Spirit-Led–We are centered in God. Spirit leads our thoughts and actions as we co-create a world that works for all.
- Generosity–Living in the infinite flow of God’s good, we draw from God’s inexhaustible supply and wisely use our rich resources to serve the world.
- Transformation–We are a dynamic movement on the cutting edge of spiritual evolution. We teach universal spiritual principles that change lives.
- Diversity–We believe that all people are created with sacred worth. We promote greater understanding among people in a spirit of unity.
- Integrity–We act from a place of wholeness and are ethical in all our actions. We keep our word.
How Do You Use the Mission/Vision/Values in Your Spiritual Community?
For one thing, you can use the mission to set specific goals. How will the community fulfill its mission? What action steps can you take in support of your mission?
Interestingly, your mission is also a primary measuring device regarding the activities, events and actions of the spiritual community. It is, after all, what you do. Are you planning on having certain classes taught at your spiritual center? How do you decide which ones? Or how do you choose an event, or even various teams? If you have a clear mission statement, you can measure a class, an event, an activity of any sort against the mission statement. Does it seem like the activity is in alignment with your mission? (If you need to, take a look at your values, too.) I remember someone once suggested a fundraiser for a church I served that was supposed to bring in a great amount of money. While we all were interested in prosperity, our core values, which included integrity and stewardship, required I investigate this thoroughly. I got more information and realized that, for all intents and purposes, it was a multi-level marketing scheme that did not at all match our mission or values.
It is also valuable and insightful to measure your success as you live out your mission, and to report successes to the congregation. It is their success, their consciousness that has helped make your process and your mission work.
Do you want to develop or revisit your mission, vision and values? You have resources available to you! Check with your Regional Representative/Church Consultant or with Unity Worldwide Ministries’ Ministry Skills Support Team.
I see you on purpose with your mission, vision and values!