Texas Baptist Voices

Jeff Johnson: Let’s fulfill Texas Baptists’ mission statement

Quick—recite your church’s mission statement. Can you do it without looking at it? If the answer is yes, then congratulations: Your church has managed to craft a mission statement that’s been branded in everyone’s consciousness.

If, on the other hand, you can’t seem to recall the exact wording or people scratch their heads and wonder what you’re talking about when you bring it up, be comforted by the fact you aren’t alone. Again—quick—what is the mission statement of the Baptist General Convention of Texas? Hint? Help!

jeff johnson130Jeff JohnsonIn a leadership seminar, I heard mission statements described this way: “Mission statements are like corporate (greeting) cards. Often written in a bland cursive font and plastered conspicuously at headquarters, these aspiring epigrams are pretty words in Air Supply-like rhythm.

Sometimes they’re created at a retreat in the woods, between the ‘trust fall’ and the passing of the speaking stick. Vigorous fights over semantics last for hours, even months. So what you end up with isn’t so much a mission statement as a bunch of ‘jargony quasi-poetry’ that’s imminently forgettable.”

The Baptist General Convention of Texas mission statement may have had its genesis on a flip chart in bland cursive at a Baptist retreat center but probably did not involve a trust fall. (I am sure after this article someone will illuminate me). I like our mission statement: The Baptist General Convention of Texas encourages, facilitates and connects churches in their work to fulfill God’s mission of reconciling the world to himself.

The bottom line is the best mission statement and strategy don’t mean anything without a culture that undergirds the mission. To do the mission God calls us to do, we first must be the people he calls us to be. The rest of the world isn’t reading our mission statement.

texas baptist voices right120Not too long ago, I broke my finger. I suddenly knew how hard it became to do even the simplest tasks. Ever try to tie your shoe with one hand? Or open a jar with one hand? Or fold a shirt with one hand? Things I was used to performing with utter ease using two hands became agonizingly slow and took all my concentration when only one hand was available.

Some tasks take at least two—two hands, two people, two wills, two hearts. One simply isn’t enough to get the job done. Jesus sent his disciples out in teams to fulfill the mission. Jesus continues to keep his disciples operating as teams.

As Texas Baptists, we are part of a great team. We can stay true to our mission and accomplish all that God intends if we do two things: (1) Remember we are part of a team. (2) In times of doubt and despair, recite our reassuring mission statement.

I really do know our mission statement. However, in case of temporary mental lapse when you suddenly ask me, I am writing down our BGCT mission statement and taping it to my bathroom mirror. I may even put it on the dashboard of my car.

Jeff Johnson is president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and pastor of First Baptist Church in Commerce.

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