Jan 052016

I’ve studied church leadership quite a bit, and one thing I have read over and over is that churches (any organization, really) need a clear mission statement. It has to be easy to understand yet profound, motivational without being controlling, and it has to seep into the DNA of the entire church.

That’s what the experts call it: the DNA of the church. Experts love abbreviations.


See how scary we look? That’s me in the middle.

But how do you come up with one? That’s harder. There are a bazillion books on the subject, dozens of leadership seminars, and you can spend thousands of dollars learning a never ending stream of abbreviations to help you and your organization craft the perfect mission statement.

Or, you can read about the time I came up with one by accident.

In addition to being a pastor, I am a lacrosse player and coach. I captain the team I play on, the Alpharetta Raptors. We’re called the Raptors because it sounds scary, and one look at the picture to the left will tell you just how scary we are.  From our very first game we started having a meeting right before we started playing. We’d discuss strategy, talk lineups, and then I’d say “Play hard, have fun, don’t be ****s.”

Sorry. I guess I should have mentioned that these games are PG-13.

Anyway, I don’t know why I said it first. Probably because that’s the kind of team we’d created without really meaning to.  We do play hard, we try to have fun, and we go out of our way to make sure we aren’t ****s.  It’s how we’ve played the game since we started a year and a half ago. I was just using words to describe what we already did, and the guys really took those words to heart. Everyone knows it  now. It’s become our motto.

“Play hard, have fun, don’t be ****s.”

I didn’t invent it. I didn’t sit around in my home office with a giant sheet of newsprint and wrack my brain to come up with something that ticked all the boxes of the perfect mission statement. I wasn’t even trying. And it isn’t perfect. I’d like to have something there about, you know, winning. But it’s as close to perfect as any mission statement I’ve ever come up with, and despite all the expert advice, I did it by accident.