Carrying Out Mission With Strategy

by Adam Duckworth

A lot of people spend a lot of time talking about their mission but very little time talking about their strategy. You may have even heard me say that before—if we have ever spent any time together. I say it so much because I believe it. A lot of people confuse these two things: mission and strategy. Let me help to bring some clarity to it: Mission is what you are going to do, and strategy is how you are going to do it.

When I came to First Fort Lauderdale in 2008, we had neither of these things in place as it related to family ministry—mission OR strategy. I knew that developing these two things would take time. It would take time to dream up, it would take time to “sell” to the family ministry team, and it would take time to communicate to senior leadership and to our congregation.

We developed a “what” statement for our family ministry, across all age groups from preschool to college. We decided that we thought the term “mission statement” was a little outdated, so we developed a “what” statement—here it is: “The Family Ministry at First Fort Lauderdale partners with families to develop Authentic Faith and Lasting Influence.” Let me unpack that with you for a few minutes and tell you a few things about how we got there.

1. We knew that we needed to have a statement that we could put in front of staff, volunteers, and families that was simple to say, remember, and articulate.

2. We wanted to have our phrases, within our “what” statement, to be catchy and definable.

3. We wanted to be able to attach our strategy directly to our “what” statement. See, Authentic Faith and Lasting Influence are the two things we are partnering with families in hopes that they obtain. Our strategy to execute those is simple: Authentic Faith – small groups, Lasting Influence – Family Experiences. It’s that simple. And in reality, we do a few other things than small groups and Family Experiences, but not many. We believe that is where everything in our ministries should lead.

We have been asked a number of times, “How do college students fit into this strategy?” We believe college is a part of our family ministry structure, so our answer is simple: College Students are involved in their own small groups and they help serve in other capacities to help execute the strategy of family ministry. This can be tricky because there isn’t necessarily always an exact place for a college student to land, and we think that is okay. College students are at an interesting point in their life, and we think the thing they need most is relationship and the opportunity to put their faith into action—which is why we ask them to volunteer.

The bottom line is this: Somewhere along the way we, as the Church, got obsessed with writing catchy mission statements and not focusing enough time and energy on how to execute those mission statements with this thing called STRATEGY. At First Fort Lauderdale, we discuss strategy as much as we discuss mission—and, don’t tweet this, but I’d say we talk about strategy more.

Adam Duckworth and his wife Katelyn moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in November of 2008 to help lead the family ministry at First Fort Lauderdale. He has been involved in family ministry since he started out as a small group leader in February of 2001. He completed two degrees from the University of Toledo (Secondary Education and Language Arts with an emphasis in PR) and then went directly into full-time ministry in southeast Michigan. Adam also works with Orange where he serves as a communicator, writer, and the on-screen host of the kids’ Internet show Studio252 Live! He and Katelyn spend their free time fueling their obsession with all things Disney. Find Adam here on Twitter.

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