The Weird Word in Our Church Mission Statement


One of the more unusual things I encountered when I first considered what life would be like working at St. Andrew in Plano, Texas, was the church’s mission statement. They’d adopted it some years prior with the work of a consultant. When I was interviewing, my new colleague Arthur Jones asked me what I thought. I honestly wasn’t sure.

Our church mission statement contained a weird word: Christian-ish.

My first, gut reaction, thinking as a church insider and considering the surrounding community, was that it was judge-y.

I had this reaction because of my long history and knowledge of the region.

Part of what you have to consider is that North Texas is very much part of the Bible Belt. In fact, one of the “brand distinctives” of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex region is the ridiculous number of large, independent churches. I mean, shoot, we’re hovering around 2000 a weekend in worship and we’re not even the biggest church on our highway exit. That distinction belongs to Prestonwood Baptist, which is one of the largest congregations of its tradition in the country.

In a region and culture where people are still surrounded by church, telling the story of the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ presents a unique set of challenges. Most people think they’ve heard the story already — even if the version they’ve heard has some problems and inaccuracies.

In our North Texas culture, there are a lot of Christian-ish people.

But there is much more to it than that, I knew even then.

It’s one thing to consider your audience Christian-ish. But what would happen if you flipped the camera and took a picture of yourself? What would you see then?

As I landed and settled in and got to thinking about the church’s story and distinct ministries and gifts and callings to the North Texas region, I began to think more and more about this peculiar word “Christian-ish.” Then I realized:

Christian-ish doesn’t just describe our culture. It describes us.

As we decided to run a series on the word “mission” this fall, I thought the time was right to tackle the word in a video. So I plugged it in to our creative calendar, which alerted the whole staff. I forced our team to make a video on it. Aargh!

So one day I sat down and wrote a script. I passed it off to our animator and editor, Aimee Aviles-Poncé. A few days later, she sent me a draft that was just about perfect. With a couple of minor tweaks, we ran it in worship.

Here it is.

This hopefully captures what it means for St. Andrew to “call the Christian-ish to become passionate servants of Jesus Christ.”

 

About the Author

Len Wilson

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Christ follower. Storyteller. Strategist. Writer. Creative Director at St Andrew. Tickle monster. Author, Think Like a Five Year Old (Abingdon).

4 Comments on “The Weird Word in Our Church Mission Statement”

  1. As one who used to live in your area, I think the -ish concept communicates well. I would guess it connects well and encourages authentic relationships. How was the video received?

  2. G’Day, you video also speaks well into our Australian & highly secular context. We’re a small missional faith community in a new real estate development. Most of our neighbours’ parents didn’t attend Sunday school. Jesus’ Good News looks like such a big call. In a ‘Fresh Expression’ church, gathering unchurched or long-ago-gave-up-on-church people, it sometimes feels as if the confirmed members back in the pew-church with the Wednesday night home group and the regular schedule of church council meeting are the proper Christians.

    But when the blokes bring their mates to shoot pool at the pub and someone gives thanks for their belonging in our little church no matter how often they screw up…. The Holy Spirit is at work and Jesus is building the Church. Thanks for this video – I shall point it out to our crew. Phil.

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