Q&A: How Do I Keep Our Mission in Front of Our Team?
How can I keep our mission, vision, and values in front of my volunteer team?
[from the 2024 Blog Survey]
My pastor is fond of a saying that I’ve heard him use dozens – maybe hundreds – of times over the years:
When you are sick of saying it, the leaders in your ministry have probably just heard it. When your leaders are sick of hearing it, then everyone else has heard it for the first time.
Ironically, I’m not so sick of hearing it, because I think it’s spot on. It’s easy for our collective minds to wander. That’s true of us when we live, eat, breathe, and dream our team’s vision for 40+ hours a week, and it’s certainly going to be true of those whom we lead, who only live in the vision for a few hours on the weekend.
So how do we keep the mission…or the vision…or the values… (and we’ll use those terms interchangeably) in front of our people?
1. Make sure you have a baseline knowledge of your values.
The old saying is true: if it’s a mist in the pulpit, it’ll be a fog in the pew. You can’t lead your people to understand something you don’t clearly understand yourself. If someone wakes you from a dead sleep at 3 a.m. and asks you to state your team’s mission statement, you ought to be able to do it syllable-for-syllable. And then you should call the police.
2. Make sure they have a baseline knowledge of your values.
Do you have a time and a place where your volunteer(s) get their initial immersion into what you believe to be valuable? If you were to poll the average volunteer, could they point back to (or even vaguely remember) going through an orientation? And was that orientation more of a how-to or a why-to? (Hint: it oughta be the latter.)
For us, the primary cornerstone of our Guest Services orientation is our five plumb lines. And we come back to those again and again throughout a volunteer’s life of serving. But we can’t come back to them if they were never clearly introduced in the first place.
3. Say the same thing in a thousand different ways.
While I believe that opening quote by my pastor is true and important – and therefore we should say the same things the same ways a thousand different times – we should also be able to riff on our core values.
For example, our third plumb line is “Everything speaks.” I can say that without saying it…I can tell a story of a dirty bathroom or a cluttered info table. I can warn against letting emails go unanswered. I can model it by picking up trash from the sidewalk. But my goal is to tie those stories and actions back to that plumb line.
4. Say the same thing in a thousand different places.
Now for the fun part of the equation: the list. If our asker is asking how to keep these things in front of her volunteer team, I have to assume she wants some concrete examples. If I were looking for a few places to display our plumb lines front and center, here’s where I’d start:
- Your onboarding training. See point #2 above.
- Your on-the-job training. As vols move from the classroom to the trenches, make sure you’re interpreting your values with actions attached.
- Weekly team email: figure out a way to work in at least one value each week, and highlight / bold / italicize / underline it
- Sunday morning huddle: take one value and give a 30 second reminder of what it means
- VHQ (spoken version): use part of your bully pulpit to go a little deeper in a value. Rather than 30 seconds, take three minutes to review it.
- VHQ (print version): publish your values in framed photos on the wall, in stand-up banners on the floor, in a painted mural on the ceiling…wherever your people will see them often.
- Prayer times: work your value statement into your team’s time of prayer each week, asking God to give you the ability to live it out.
- Name tags: print your primary plumb line on the back of your volunteer tags so they’ll see it whenever they put it on.
- Awards: as you get in the habit of appreciating your vols, get in the habit of creating silly awards based on your values. (“This month’s Everything Speaks Award goes to Bryan, who arrived extra early last week to pick up trash in the parking lot.”)
- Sunday sermon: occasionally, feed your pastor your team’s mission statement. If he’s talking about serving or highlighting an opportunity for your team, make sure they hear their internal language being used publicly. (But see my disclaimer below.)
One thing to keep in mind as you think about saying the same thing in a thousand different places: remember that your team’s values are your team’s values. I’m not recommending you put them on the church marquee or emblazon them on a sanctuary wall. Even in the sermon example, that’s more of an Easter egg designed to make them smile and realize “our pastor gets us.” Your team’s values don’t really mean anything to people outside your team. They’re an insider’s shorthand designed to remind them of what’s important.
What are the ways that you keep mission, vision, and values in front of your team?
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