“The mission of the church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.”
The Book of Common Prayer (p. 855).
The mission of the church, listed above, is rather straight forward. On several occasions I have participated in the writing of a Mission Statement for a church or a school. We attempted to articulate the specifics of this universal work in our particular time and space. Too often we missed the mark and produced something overly wordy and rather mushy. When the product is too long, it is virtually guaranteed that the body of people will not be able to memorize and internalize the mission statement. As a result, when it comes time to make a tough decision, people are ill-prepared to ask, “Based on the mission of our church, how should we proceed with…(whatever it is that we are wrestling with)?
I have found it helpful to substitute Guiding Principles for a mission statement. They are easier to remember, more readily recalled, and therefore more likely to guide us as we go about the business of being the people of God at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Metairie, Louisiana in this day and time.
St. Martin’s Guiding Principles: Worship, Stewardship, Community, and Outreach.
Our church seeks to excel in four particular areas of ministry:
Worship- it all begins with Sunday worship. What we do here matters. We offer a variety of worship styles from the quiet and contemplative Rite 1 at 8 a.m., variety of music and large community gathering at 10:00 a.m., and a relaxed evening service in the chapel at 6:00 p.m. In addition we offer Morning and Evening Prayer during the week and have a Wednesday evening Eucharist during the school year. In all of our worship, we are a reverent people who try to love and praise God without taking ourselves too seriously.
Stewardship- we preach and teach the tithe (giving 10%) as a means of joy! We commit to working our way towards this goal through incremental giving; we mark where we are and work towards the tithe, increasing by one percentage point each year. Stewardship is also about the way we use our time and talent to glorify God and reflect our Christian faith.
Community - best described as a combination of fellowship and inreach. We like each other’s company and enjoy passing a good time with one another after church at coffee hour or at some of the many fellowship events we offer over the course of the year. Inreach is the pastoral care we offer to our parishioners as a mark of Christ’s command that we love one another as he has loved us.
Outreach - everyone is worthy of God’s love because we are all made in the image of God. For this reason, Christians are called to offer service to all people in the name of Christ. In our church, education has been the chief means of serving the community. Through our founding of St. Martin’s Episcopal School, continuing an education ministry on our church campus through The Little School, and through a long relationship with students and teachers of Ella Dolhonde, a local public elementary school, the people of our church have made important contributions to the lives of others.
These Guiding Principles are not meant to be exhaustive. Rather think of them as priorities. When we are wrestling with competing good ideas in a world of limited time, the reconciliation ministry of the church expressed through our particular Guiding Principles can inform our discernment
Fr. Fred Devall