Over the last 13 years I have been heavily involved, either staff or volunteer, with four different churches. And coming up with mission and vision statements has always been a grueling and intense time of focus. Some have come about on staff retreats or day long planning sessions in which statements were worked and reworked over and over. They made for some really great and powerful times, and they often set the coarse for the ministry.
As we started the deep, which has morphed into ecclesia, I really felt like God had placed a couple of things on my heart for our kids and youth. A mixture of feelings had my heart really wrestling with what God was doing in the lives of young people. One being the ever changing, uber challenging culture in which our young people walk. The other being a bit of dissatisfaction with statements (vision, mission or whatever) being so dreamy and serene, yet a far cry from any sort of reality. These things helped give birth to the new "statements" for our kids and youth.
Both Kid's Street and our youth start with a prayer from scripture: Colossians 1:9-12, "For this reason. since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his people in the kingdom of light." One key insight: The word knowledge, which is used twice in these verses, is very important. The church in Colossae, to which this letter is written, struggled with Gnosticism, which is the clinging to head knowledge as the thing to attain. The Greek word for knowledge is gnosis, but it is here where Paul brilliantly uses the word epignosis, which is to know in your heart or a heart knowledge so to speak (this word is also translated 'knowledge' in the English language, but obviously has a much richer context). He charges the church to know God in a personal, heart felt way which includes, but also exceeds head knowledge. It is our prayer that our young people will know (epignosis) God and His will, which will bear fruit in and through them!
So when asked what our "statements" are, we will point to each other's lives, which we also cling to 2 Corinthians 3:1-3, "Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendations to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts."
So it will not be a dreamy statement that describes our church or ministry, but we will tell our stories and share our lives which should point to God. If they do not, then it is not a statement that we need to chase or tweak, but our very lives that need to be transformed by the living God. This has been a humbling time of ministry for myself and I know God is up to something beautiful. I know this because our kids and youth have been telling some magnificent stories with their lives, and God's light has been shining brightly for all to see. The young people have been challenging and encouraging the rest of us, and we must stand and praise only God for this gift.
Some "statements" should not be weighed down with inky clothes, they need to be exhaled and hang in the air by the lives we live.