A few years ago, my wife and I traveled to Israel. One day while at the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee, a bus filled with Israeli soldiers from the Israeli Defense Forces pulled into the parking lot. I asked our tour guide what they were doing. He explained that soldiers are toured around the entire country so they learn the history, culture, beliefs, geography, and people of Israel. He quipped, “Too many soldiers go into battle, and they don’t know what they’re fighting for. We make sure that doesn’t happen in Israel.”
Sadly, there is plenty of organizational truth there for others: too many employees go “into battle” and aren’t sure what they’re fighting for. Mission statements, done right, provide laser focus around which all employees and board members can rally.
At Faith Lutheran Middle School & High School in Las Vegas, we want all of our students, employees and board members to know what they are fighting for. Five years ago, we changed our mission statement and distilled it down to four words: Everyone Prepared! Everyone Saved! It’s short; it’s simple; it’s effective. It’s on the walls in all buildings on our campus. For us, it captures the essence of what our school is trying to accomplish. Exclamation points help to create a sense of urgency and importance.
Everyone Prepared!…To name a few, we want our musicians prepared for their concerts, our students prepared for their tests, our athletes prepared for their games, our teachers prepared for their classes, our graduates prepared for college, our 7th graders prepared for 8th grade, and our students prepared for life deeper into the 21st century.
Everyone Saved!… 1 Timothy 2:4 states, “God desires all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” Yes, our students have up to 90 years left on this earth, and we most certainly want to prepare them for their futures. But then they have eternity and so we will share and model Jesus to them at every chance we get.
Too many organizations create a mission statement as part of a strategic plan, but then put that statement in a binder on a shelf where it gathers dust until the strategic plan is updated years later. Our employees know our mission statement. And so do our students. One random school day last year, I went into both high school and middle school lunches and asked approximately 50 students if they knew what our mission statement was. 70% of them did without any prompting and another 25% of them did when I gave them a brief clue (e.g. it’s four words or it starts with “Everyone.”)
At our Board of Directors’ meetings, each board member has a name tent in front of them. On the front side facing the other board members is the board member’s name and the church he/she represents. On the back side facing the board member is our mission statement. It is a clear reminder that every decision that is made in those meetings must be filtered through the lenses of our mission statement.
Our graduates getting into the nation’s best universities, our Mock Trial team winning three consecutive state championships, our arts programs highly decorated at adjudicated events, STEM students completing complex internships, Business & Entrepreneurship students excelling in state and national DECA competitions, Film & Broadcast students successfully streaming athletic events, and the baptisms in chapel are a few ways of us saying: “Mission accomplished.” Don’t tell everyone your mission statement; show the world you’re on a mission.