Professions Of Faith

February 10, 2006

Christian Mission Statements

Filed under: Mission Statements — Dan Spencer @ 3:22 pm

Q1: A business owner just updated his company mission statement to include the term “Christian principles”. The expanded definition reads: “We know of no better role model for us than Jesus Christ. The life He lived inspires us and the principles He taught are the basis for all of our decisions.”

One of his senior employees objected to this because he thought that the term Christian would be offensive and could open us up to discrimination and harassment claims. He also complained that he thought employee actions should be stronger and company words softer. He also considers himself a Christian. He just does not think a company should “wear it’s religion on its sleeve”

The owners response is that legally they are ok provided they do not discriminate based on religious beliefs. The owner agreed that actions and deeds should be stronger but believes the mission statement sets the bar. He thinks it says who they are, why they exist, who they aspire to be, etc.

What would your advice be to this business owner?

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27 Comments »

  1. It has been a real uplift to read the comments of some very good men. I believe we as individuals need to and are required by Christ to live our lives in imitation of Him at all times. To wear Christ on our sleeve, never miss an opportunity to mention His name and evangelize some other soul. We are all part of the body of Christ and everyone we meet is also a part, for the very best health of the body love each other. I would be self conscious of printing Christ’s name in a mission statement, it would seem like advertising with God’s name. Word of mouth approval ratings for the very best Christian customer service in any business will go a long way, just like in the first century.

    Comment by David Lyle — February 17, 2006 @ 3:31 pm

  2. As a fellow disciple, I’d echo James 1:23-24. As a businessman, I’d say look at the bottomline. Disciple trumps businessman.

    Comment by Jerry Schaefer — February 17, 2006 @ 3:34 pm

  3. I suggest sticking with the mission statement as it is IF they are truly going to try and live by it. So many times mission statements are written and not followed. I would hate for a mission statement that has Christ mentioned in it and not to be followed, which might be part of the concern of the senior employee. Actions do speak louder than words so if you write it make sure you act it.

    There will always be those who think work life and faith life should be separate.

    Comment by Steve Ruyle — February 17, 2006 @ 3:36 pm

  4. I love the mission statement

    Comment by Steve Brownback — February 17, 2006 @ 3:38 pm

  5. I would agree with Mr. Kopecky on this. I think it is a great thing to do in proclaiming your faith in your Mission Statement and would be very surprised if any customers were bothered by it. If they are, then Chris has a valid point about who that person is, what they stand for, and whether or not you want to do business with them.

    Being a lowly employee for my company doesn’t allow me to have that level of input on my company’s mission statement, but I am very open with my customers in regard to my faith, including some that are practicing Muslims, and have not found any of them to be offended, bothered, or refuse to do business with me. They seem to appreciate that part of my character.

    So, I would recommend this person to move forward with the Mission Statement as well as living out his faith actively at work.

    Comment by Chris McGuyer — February 17, 2006 @ 3:42 pm

  6. Since the purpose of a mission statement along with a Values statement is to communicate with employees the culture of the company, I think the answer to your question is to include it. I would personally be very upset if I joined a company and found it to be organized under principles that I found objectionable. I conclude that the mission and values statement is management’s vehicle to shape the company’s culture and to signal a value system to employees so that they can search within themselves to determine if they can align with the company’s purpose.

    Comment by Steve Ehart — February 17, 2006 @ 3:44 pm

  7. I don’t think actions and words need to be mutually exclusive. I think that it is indeed appropriate for this business person to incorporate his faith and his model of Jesus Christ in his mission statement. He needs to understand also that in the real world it might cause some flack for him. Did Christ not tell us that we need to carry a cross if we were to truly follow in his footsteps. I guess our Savior was right. KEEP IT IN !!!

    Comment by Frank Mader — February 17, 2006 @ 3:46 pm

  8. A mission statement should say who your company is, what you do, what you stand for and why you do it. You should avoid saying how great you are, what great quality and what great service you provide.

    I believe that actions speak loader than words. Conducting your business with integrity, treating your employees and clients with respect and delivering on your commitments carry much more than a proclamation. A business action such as aggressive pricing, missed targets, contract disputes, firing of employees, use of competitive intelligence etc.. all could be interpreted as unchristian like and hypocritical, or a practical savvy approach to business.

    Our behavior should be a reflection of our “Christian principles”.

    Comment by Jim Casey — February 17, 2006 @ 3:48 pm

  9. I think you are fine with the new mission statement. My take is that the new statement isn’t a statement about religion at all. It is a statement on the principles and values Jesus Christ extolled during his life. We should all strive to live by those values. Think about this exercise. Have the senior employee take out a bill from his/her pocket. A one, five, ten dollar bill would do. Look on the back of the bill. He will see printed “In God We Trust”. Have him read out loud what he sees. I would be curious to know how he responds to US Government extolling God. I would say our words should be strong with actions to match.

    Comment by Greg Flax — February 17, 2006 @ 3:49 pm

  10. I think it is great. I would be more comfortable doing business with him knowing that he is bold enough to talk about Christ in his mission. Of course, the actions will speak louder than the words. I think it would also help him explain to his employees and prospective employees what he is all about. The bottom line is going to be this, if they have a product or service that makes economic sense for the other party to buy, they will.

    Comment by Mike Pitzl — February 17, 2006 @ 4:08 pm

  11. To me, the clue lies in his last statement – “I am COMFORTABLE with my decision and response”. Believe if he was not comfortable that would be saying something. I saw Chris Kopecky’s answer and thought that was insightful as well. I am sure this is a question that probably deserves more time than I can commit to it here via e-mail, but again, trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, if he is comfortable with his “Mission Statement” I would say go for it. I gotta believe that if somebody does take offense to it, they would hear about it. Plus, on the other hand, when you are doing business, who really looks at a company’s mission statement before deciding for or against doing business with that firm?

    Comment by Ken Jennison — February 17, 2006 @ 4:09 pm

  12. Whether your company or another I think this is a rather bold move for a leader – especially in light of the fact that he did this (apparently) on his own and without discussion with his leadership team or with his troops if it is a very small company. I look at the leadership issue first because that is what his associates signed up for when hired on by the company. If the rules have changed – and it could be a business strategy or in this case cultural change – then the organization will respond better with buy in than with forced change. The goal is to have his company project Christian values as they do business not the other way around. If the company wants to project Christian values as its core business then change the business model and let everyone who wants in join in and help the others employment elsewhere then that is another story.

    I work for a big company so I can’t really speak from a small business perspective but I know the culture is very different for each.

    Comment by Rob Fallon — February 17, 2006 @ 4:10 pm

  13. From a truly business perspective, I would be much more likely to utilize a company with such a mission statement then a comparable company without such references to Christ. I would suggest that most who would read the statement would come away with the impression that this company operates with honesty and integrity.

    Comment by Bruce Snider — February 17, 2006 @ 4:11 pm

  14. I think the answer is still the same depending on the type of business he has. Is his target marget is one that would be offended by it– (i.e., selling turbins)? If so, he needs to weigh the economic decision versus what he feels he would be gaining in the outward declaration of it’s Christian mission. It has been my experience that most people respect the fact you have a faith even if you don’t agree with it and it would not turn people off. Most customers probably never see the mission statement of a business anyway. We put the ten commandments out in our lobby on the wall and have never heard a negative comment from anyone and have actually heard a lot of compliments about it. I would be tempted to tell him to go for it but not to discriminate in his hiring, firing, etc. I think it is great that you encourage others to not only act more Christian but not be afraid to put it in their mission statement if it is applicable. I don’t know if this is what your looking for but hope it helps.

    Comment by Chris Kopecky — February 17, 2006 @ 4:13 pm

  15. Most are unwilling to address the dichotomy of professing to believe in Christ’s truth but not acting. I am often guilty of such shortcomings. Even though I don’t always have the strength to take the action, I am realizing more and more of the need to do so. This is a hard thing. Although not too many companies have such courage….Some things come immediately to mind.
    Why think you should not state it and yet expect your companies actions to imitate it?…that doesn’t make sense. State it. You are right. Mission statements are all about stating the mission.
    If those in your company can rally around the principle and it is what your company aspires to…no harm in stating it that way.
    God rewards acts of faith. If you take this step with faith in God, he will undoubtedly bless you. It may not be what you think it’ll be, but he will bless you abundantly .
    My own company has recently re-written our company code of ethics. It is very lengthy and specifically calls out very high standards in superlatives (ie I will hold the utmost ethical standards etc). I have received the legal training that says do not ever sign a contract that has an unattainable measure…you lose in court. That same company that trained me not to sign such documents, now insists that I sign a personal statement (that violates their own legal teaching). That bothered me and I refused to sign for a long while. However, recently after reflecting on it, I realized this code of standard is nothing more that a commitment to be Christ-like (in layman’s terminology). Turns out I think that is a good personal commitment. So This week I signed….because what it said was to be Christlike. This is sort of the opposite of the situation you presented. I would hope that the truthful non-Christian would use similar logic to accept a mission statement that cites Christian Principles.

    Comment by Roger — February 17, 2006 @ 4:15 pm

  16. Very interesting question.

    When I think of “mission” statements, I think of purpose, brand and what my customers/clients expect of my organization…..OR, what niche we look to fill. If you are looking to serve / lead a market of christian spirit I’d say you are okay. If you are looking for a guide for your workforce to abide by, then you’d be speaking more of values (behaviors you want to support your mission statement) then a “value statement” reflecting this might be more appropriate.

    What the heck, why not have both reflect “christian spirit”.

    Comment by Peter Kardash — February 17, 2006 @ 4:16 pm

  17. Jn 14:6 “… I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    Comment by Joe Searle — February 17, 2006 @ 4:17 pm

  18. DO NOT BACK DOWN! YOU MUST BE BOLD FOR CHRIST. AS CATHOLICS, WE MUST TAKE THE NEXT STEP AND GET OUT OF COMFORT ZONE. GREAT DECISION!

    Comment by Joe Hungerford — February 17, 2006 @ 4:18 pm

  19. What a great thought provoking question.

    First of all, it appears that you have covered the legality of using “Christian” within a Mission statement so the concerns over discrimination and harassment should be minimized.

    Secondly, a mission statement is supposed to represent an enterprises reason for existence and should address concepts such as public image, growth, and the moral and ethical position of the organization. It should also be the first consideration of any employee making a strategic decision. Therefore “Christianity” categorically exemplifies behavior held to the highest moral and ethical standards….why not set the same standard as a goal for the enterprise. I cannot think of another word that is truly synonymous with “Christian”. It depicts the single highest standard. Even a non-Christian can relate.

    Many of us struggle and try to separate our “Business life” with our “personal life” but the fact remains, our business behavior should be the same as our personal behavior. If we are truly to live as Christians then we should evangelize our faith, hence “wear our religion on our sleeve” regardless of occasion for which we are dressed.

    Lastly, in terms of the business…..What are the risks? What are the rewards? Perhaps it is best not to think of those (customers & employees) that you may lose, but what about those that you may win.

    Bottom Line – I would encourage and applaud the use of Christian in a mission statement.

    Comment by John Armand — February 17, 2006 @ 5:38 pm

  20. I am confident God will honor his decision to include Christ in the mission statement. Will it offend someone? Most likely it will. Will some be turned off? Probably. If he takes Christ out, he will have to answer to Jesus at some point about why he was removed Through prayer, he should have peace about what to do.

    Comment by Chad — February 18, 2006 @ 7:27 am

  21. I do not agree w/ the sr. employee. A company should wear its religion on its sleeve because that’s what its all about – being Christ like, etc. Also, the term of Christian would and is not offensive in my opinion. If nothing else, it could make people think about their own faith and somehow spark conversation amongst a group. Jesus is the best role model anyone could and should have for any matter.

    Comment by Todd Gomez — February 18, 2006 @ 7:29 am

  22. Hats off to this courageous individual and more power to him/her for incorporating a Faith based portion in their Mission;

    On a practical sense I believe the Owner/CEO should produce/originate the Vision;
    The Team including him or her should then formulate the Mission to carry out the Vision as a Team with inputs and thoughts from everyone; 7 Mgmt team members working as a Team are 10,000 times more powerful than one person acting in a Vacuum;

    Comment by Rob — February 18, 2006 @ 7:30 am

  23. We used the word “blessed” in a product letter and had one guy call us on it. Said just because we could say it in America doesn’t mean you have to go ahead and use the word. Not sure if he was PO’d really or not or for sure what he meant exactly. I wrote a Christmas note to my reps in December telling them
    “Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Merry Kwanza, or what ever you choose to celebrate, that this great country of ours allows us each to do. Be safe. Happy New Year!”

    Go for it. We don’t hold it against anyone to celebrate as they wish if they don’t hold it against me. Gotta love America!

    Comment by Wade Long — February 18, 2006 @ 7:34 am

  24. If there is no legal issue with the Mission statement and this is what the owner feels called to write, then I think the reference to Christian principles should stay. Having said that, I also think that what we do is much more important than what we say. Show the world by our actions that we are Christians. As St. James says, “So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead”.

    Although Including the term, “Christian Values”, is good it needs to be clearly defined. I suggest including appropriate passages from the bible, especially the Gospel & letters from Paul that describes how we should be and what we should do.

    My firm’s Mission statement references our culture statement, which lists and expounds on 13 points – many of which describe Christian values without saying “Christian Values”.

    Sample of one of our Culture Points:

    1.Integrity
    You will strive to uphold the highest levels of integrity in and outside of the workplace.

    You will always speak the truth

    You will only make promises that you are willing and able to keep

    You will endeavor to fix or comply with any broken or unfulfilled promises

    You will quote facts not opinions or hearsay

    Comment by Jim Baldwin — February 18, 2006 @ 2:41 pm

  25. The owners decision is a powerful action in itself. He is aspiring to a standard normally attributed to Mother Church. I think it presents a challenge to the owner and employees that they should be proud to accept and act on. The City of Kansas City, MO had a test for initiatives that included, “Is it good for the children?”. The owner and employees are subscribing to a test for their actions that includes, What would Christ do?. Anyone doing business with them should be able to see Christ in their actions without ever having read the Misson Statement.

    Comment by Dominic — February 19, 2006 @ 12:41 am

  26. While the motivation for this mission statement is undoubtedly admirable, I fear that it would fail to achieve its intended purpose.
    The statement says, at the same time, too much and too little.

    For those who have little to no knowledge of Jesus Christ (unfortunately a large fraction of the population), the statement will have no meaning.
    It might as well read “We know of no better role model for us than Epictetus.”

    For those who are conversant (or think they are conversant) in model that Christ provides, the statement alone is non-specific. I don’t know if Churches have mission statements; but this statement could be in the mission statement of every Christian denomination. However, history has shown quite divergent belief and conduct structures emerging from the one life of Christ. Thus, a devout Mennonite would have a completely different understanding of the basis of this corporation as compared to say, a devout Catholic.

    Even if made more specific (for instance “we know no better role model for us than Jesus Christ, as interpreted and explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church) the corporation is assuming that the reader of the mission statement is very well informed. Thus, in this form, the statement is specific but able to communicate with only a small subset of the population.

    Since it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness, I would propose this to writer of the mission statement. Reflect upon what you were trying to say by this statement, and express it in several succinct examples. For instance; “As Christ has taught us to love one another, this corporation places highest value in love and compassion toward its customers and employees”. or; “Through Christ’s example of healing the sick, this corporation is committed to free employee medical insurance including paid time off for pastoral retreats.”

    Comment by M Edwards — March 7, 2006 @ 5:27 pm

  27. It seems to me the point is not how we serve but who we serve. Col 3:23 says, whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord and not unto men. My new business mission statement is drafted to say,

    “Teenage boys serving Christ in urban communities by maintaining interior and exterior floors, and performing as a world-class vocal band”.

    What do you think of that approach? My concern is that we attract managers who understand this principal. How can I obey the law and hire managers who will agree to this mission?

    Comment by Glenn Thomas — November 23, 2012 @ 9:59 am


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