A challenge planted in me recently has sprouted and grown roots.  In distilling some thoughts and conversations from the past few days, I have corporate-world vs. church-world leadership on the brain–specifically vision and mission statements.  For the past three years and more, I have been immersed in the idea of crossover-learning between those two seemingly at-opposite worlds and how each might benefit from the wisdom of the other.  I see how the rough corners of business-America could be softened and how the antiquated models of the church could be strengthened.  Between us there is so much gift to share… we should but I don’t think either really knows how.

I am intrigued by the idea of The Eight-Word Mission Statement:  in 8 words or less describe your organization’s mission using the “verb-target-outcome” format.  I believe that this post-modern world is moving toward a culture of sound-bites rather than statements… listen to any young adult conversation, look at text messages, sign up for a Twitter account and you will find that as a country we are communicating in 140 characters or less.  It’s not going to slow down.  Chip and Dan Heath’s book Made to Stick reinforces this idea of needing to use words expertly well if a message or vision is going to be remembered.  I have tried to pass on this wisdom in my circles of influence but it’s a hard sell… it’s hard for people to be minimalists in a world where everything is at your fingertips.  But information overload is driving people’s attention spans these days and most will only engage in something that appears simple on the surface… once you get them hooked they will stick around and hear more.

We have a similar scenario happening now in our diocese.  Our new bishop has been installed for almost a year now.  He’s a good man and I know is going to make a positive difference here for the faithful people of Wyoming.  A new vision plan is being presented and discussed which has prompted my reflection on the idea of vision and mission in timely concurrence with what I’ve also been learning and studying.  God is no slouch in the coincidence department.

A peek inside my brain… but I warn you:  it’s scary.  Proceed at your own risk.

What if a vision plan focused on creating a culture of inspiration?  We talk about the “culture of death” all the time.  We need to work to renew hearts toward a faithful, meaningful and sustainable experience of the joy of life.
What if a vision plan focused more on the action and less on the demographics?  Because all of the groups of people in our diocese and areas of ministry are equally important enough to devote our full attention, time, energy, money and resources–along with the other two dozen and more that aren’t on the top 6 list.

The real goal before us is to reinvigorate the 93.6% of Catholic people who are either uninvolved or unengaged.  (Email to ask me how I got that number.)

What if the top 6 points of a vision plan were more like?

  1. Inspire the hearts of all the faithful to renewed interest and desire in God.
  2. Teach the faith in new creative and relevant ways.
  3. Build stronger relationships with the people in and between parishes.
  4. Connect important life and cultural issues to church teaching.
  5. Create opportunities for people to discover their own sense of vocation.
  6. Engage people’s heads, hearts and hands in acts of discipleship.

These kinds of words and ideas in a vision plan would make me stop and take notice of what’s happening in a diocesan office.  Otherwise, I’m probably not interested nor is my heart invested.  Just grist for the mill.

btw… my 8 word vision statement:  innovate avenues for spiritual conversion and Christian discipleship.


About Elaine Menardi

Heading off on a new adventure! I solve problems and make ideas happen.

One response »

  1. Jeff Kaster says:

    A “hokku” poem from 17th century master Kobayashi Issa:

    O snail
    Climb Mount Fuji,
    But slowly, slowly!

    Eight words!

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