Being Strategic: Vision Statements

Every company, sports organization and magazine in the world has a vision/mission statement. But, what is it really? Why is it good for you to have a vision/mission statement? Developing a vision statement is important to have for at least 2 reasons.

For starters, it is important to have this statement because it will end up being your guiding light. It is what all your decisions will be based on. It gives you freedom to say yes and the ability no – which might be one of the hardest things for a youth leader to do. When a decision needs to be made, you can always check it against your vision statement to see if the 2 line up. If they do, it makes your decision easier. But, if they do not, it is an easy “no” answer.

The vision statement we have at Cedar Run is “Cedar Run’s Student Ministry seeks to develop relationships with students so that Christ can make an eternal impact in their lives.” In this statement, I put a main emphasis on leaders building relationships with students. The leaders are not just building relationships but spurring the students on towards Christ. Therefore, everything that the leaders and I do is based on building relationships and leading students into deeper relationships with Christ.

In his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins helped me process my vision statement. He introduced the Hedgehog Concept. I cannot begin to do justice to Jim’s concept so I encourage you to read his book as it is a great read. But, the Hedgehog Concept is basically “simplify a complex world into a single organizing idea, a basic principle or a concept that unifies and guides everything” (p. 91 – “Good to Great”). This concept is more than a vision statement, but your vision statement needs to coincide with this concept. It includes your passions and what you, as a Church, can strive to be the best at.

For example, at Cedar Run, we developed our Hedgehog Concept when we created our vision statement. We decided we were not going to strive to have the best “youth room” with all the coolest gadgets and games. Nor were we going to have the best camping ministry where we draw tons of students to camp each year. What I honestly felt we, at Cedar Run, could be the best at would be developing relationships with students and taking them deeper in Christ. That is what I was passionate about and what I wanted us to be known for, what I wanted us to be best at. So, if you ever come to visit our program (anyone is welcome to come), you will see that we don’t’ have the best games or the best room. We don’t have the best youth band (but a very good one) or best powerpoint presentations. But, what we are great at is building and developing relationship with students so that Christ will make an eternal impact on their lives.

Secondly, having a vision statement is good to have because it shows others that you have a plan. A few years ago, as I was searching for a part time Middle School Intern, I revealed to our search committee what our vision statement was. In that committee was a woman who had children in our program and was very involved. When she heard the vision statement, she said, “I didn’t know you had that.” I was surprised but it became clear to me that we have not made our statement known to others. The leaders knew it and I knew it, but no one else did. She went home told her husband. The next Sunday she came up to me and said that she always thought the youth program was all about fun and craziness. She didn’t know we actually had a plan! The same will be true of your program unless you make it known! Because we work with “Youth” and most Youth Pastors are young, we are stereotyped into the young crowd. People assume you are naïve and do not know the anything. So, unless you make it known, you leave people the opportunity to make assumptions about you and our program. Therefore, MAKE IT KNOWN! Put it on your website, your newsletters and anything else you send out to parents.

What is it that you want your program to be about? What are you passionate about? What can your church be known for and be the best at? Also, how are you going to accomplish your vision statement? How will our program and curriculum look based on our vision for this group? That is where the fun begins. We’ll continue to talk about other strategic moves you can make in other posts to come.

But, before we get into other strategic moves, TAKE A MINUTE and either…

  1. Examine your vision statement, if you have one. Is it your guiding light? Is it made known to others or are they free to assume you do not have a plan?
  2. Create a vision statement if you do not have one. Remember the Hedgehog Concept – what are you passionate about and what can you be the best at. Let that drive your thinking. Spend time praying and listen for God to guide you.
  3. Pick up Jim Collin’s “Good to Great” book. It had a huge impact on my ministry and can help you as well.

If you want thoughts or want help on your vision statement, feel free to email me at


  • Jim Collin’s “Good to Great”

1 Comment

Filed under Leaders, Planning

One response to “Being Strategic: Vision Statements

  1. A mission statement is a good idea.

    I had developed and been living by my own mission statement for my life even before I was hired on as Director of Youth Ministries at Church of the Epiphany, where they have their own mission statement that we hold to as a youth ministry, “To stand for Jesus Christ, grow together as God’s family, and make Him known through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

    This mission statement, and my own, work together in harmony and enabled me to be able to make the decision to take the job and be a part of the Epiphany team. My life mission statement is simply, “To grow in a real, personal, dynamic, and life changing relationship with Jesus and to help others do the same.”

    There is an old saying that goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” There is another saying that goes, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” So true. This is why charting a course for life and ministry is so important and why developing a mission statement is also so important.

    Good to Great is a great read and very helpful in leadership development. I would also add that leaders should frequently read leadership books and seek to sharpen their skills as leaders or, “sharpen the saw,”as Stephen Covey would put it.

    Another Great read is the Gospel According to Starbuck’s by Leonard Sweet. This gives an amazing case study about how an organization knows their mission and sticks to it. This was one of my favorite books of last year and is well worth the time.

    Thanks for the very important post Tom,


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