What is our Vision as a church?

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My dear friends...Parson Ray has been busy! While attending a recent meeting, I was asked to ponder the following: What is the vision of the AME Church? Now, I must admit that was a rather broad task considering the other participants involved in the process. Here is another point we had to consider: A mission statement should be two sentences or less. Looking at the present mission statement, it appears to be more than three paragraphs. If you could re-write, or compose a mission statement of two sentences, what would it be? I would love to read your responses...especially my dear brother Shaft!

-- Anonymous, March 26, 2003


Parson Ray:

I applaud your efforts in wanting to explore the prospects of revising the AME Vision Statement. A French phrase, raison d'etre, is useful for purposes of this discussion. It means the reason or justification for existence. Our Vision Statement is our raison d'etre. I would guess that less than 1 in 50 AMEs can articulate fully the current Vision Statement. It is too long. Coporations, unlike our AMEC, state their purpose/vision both with clarity and brevity. We should be no different. A shorter statement would be more effective plus it would be a superior mnenomic (i.e. memory aid) alternative. I have also gone on record as favoring a condensed version of our Discipline. Our Discipline is also too broad and too long. This only produces the counter-productive effect of discouraging too many to take time to read and study. I would like to see a compact Discipline (something I can put inside my tastefully looking sport coat) along with a condensed Vision Statement.

My draft Vision Statement would be something like this:

"The purpose of the AMEC is to continue the salvation efforts and liberation theology of her founder Richard Allen by Preaching the Gospel, Teaching the Gospel, Discipling the Unsaved and working tirelessly to promote loving, caring and sustainable homes and communities domestic and abroad."

This is less than 50 words. Brevity is a virtue. QED

-- Anonymous, March 27, 2003

Rev. Allen I love the AME mission statement exactly the way it is. And there is no rule of thumb about how long a mission statement should be. At my church we build our ministries upon the ame mission statement, for us it is a road map for where we are to go to serve the Lord. We have a strong ministry and worship service at a nursing home because our mission statement tells us to go there, this ministry has now extended into a ministry for the handi-capped in our community. We have developed ministries with the food bank because our mission statement tells us to go to the poor, we are working with the mentally ill and reaching out to the native american population because of our mission statement. Our mission statement is exciting and defines who we are in relationship to other denominations. We have had people join our church because of the mission statement. In terms of a vision for our church, let be begin by saying I love our denomination with all of my heart and I for one want to work to bring the legacy of richard allen to everyone regardless of color. My vision for our church is one where the walls of racism are brought to the ground, I see a church where all people of various ethnic groups come to worship. I hope we will be more intentional with our economic development programs and really reach out to the poor in our communities. I envision a church that has it's own TV station and is broadcasting world wide. I see a church that is reaching out to our churches in Africa and helping, we spend so much money on conferences and hotels, I pray that a great portion of that money could be used for our churches in Africa. We need to plant churches in India, Mexico, south america and europe. I am greatly encouraged by the possibilities. Laatly we need to be in prayer and ask God what is his will for our denomination.

-- Anonymous, March 27, 2003

Reverend Allen,

I seem to recall that at one General Conference, perhaps 1988, the Vision Statement was shortened and published in the Discipline. Additionally, Two Orders of Worship were also adopted and printed as well--one contemporary and one traditional. However it was determined that the majority of AMEs neither liked nor approved of either change that was made. So, in subsequent General Conferences both the Mission Statement and the Tradition Order of Worship was reinstated as the official one.

Whenever I attend an AME Church and hear the words of their Call To Worship or Communion format, I immediatiately know if they have and use a current Discipline or if they are still living in the past and have not caught up with the changes reinstated and adopted 15 years ago.

Like Reverend Rogers, I love our Mission Statement as it curently is. At my church it is printed on the Bulletin each Sunday and we know it well. We have also explored it from time to time at Sunday School Conventions and Lay Meetings. In each of these situations we study and follow it.

Finally, I would note that ours is no longer than that of several other denominations. In fact since I also know the one for the United Church of Christ, it is in fact longer and their members know it well. Things, which are not broken, don't need fixing and those that work don't need to always be changed. Christian Mission cannot be shortenen. Following Christ is a "REAL BIG" job.

-- Anonymous, March 27, 2003

Here is the official AME Mission Statement:

"The mission of the African Methodist Church is to minister to the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, and environmental needs of all people by spreading Christ's liberating gospel through word and deed. At every level of the Connection and in every local church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church shall engage in carrying out the spirit of the original Free African Society, out of which the A.M.E. Church evolved: that is, to seek out and save the lost, and serve the needy through a continuing program of

1. preaching the gospel, 2. feeding the hungry, 3. clothing the naked, 4. housing the homeless, 5. cheering the fallen, 6. providing jobs for the jobless, 7. administering to the needs of those in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, asylums and mental institutions, senior citizens' homes, caring for the sick, the shut-in, the mentally and socially disturbed, and 8. encouraging thrift and economic advancement."

The current mission statement is 142 words in length. This is 3 times longer than my parsimonious alternative. One of the drawbacks with the current statement is an attempt to be exact and comprehensive by delineating the above "8 point action plan". What if some activity is not listed in the 8 point plan? Does this mean the AMEC does not consider it worthy of her ministry? What about children in foster care institutions? Nothing is mentioned about that. Or scientific advances in bio-medical research (cloning, stem cell research, abortion, etc.). The latter activity directly impacts our Christian mores and value system, yet as a church we are essentially mute on these issues.

Consider the obvious omission of Teaching the Gospel. It isn't mentioned yet no one would dispute this as being an activity of paramount importance. Too many of our members already possess embarrasingly low Biblical IQs. Contrary to what some may think about me, my principal activity in the Lord's Ministry is not to spread American imperialist propaganda, but to raise our individual and collective Biblical IQs in order to sharpen our global witness. Excluding teaching in our Mission Statement can only exacerbate this problem. Now some might say, wouldn't reference to the term 'intellectual needs' be adequate to cover teaching the gospel? I would respond no since 'intellectual needs' can mean a myriad of things. The current Mission Statement explicitly refers to preaching the gospel. I believe teaching the gospel is a corrollary compliment to preaching. If you do exit interviews for why folks leave the AMEC a repeated refrain is the perceived lack of teaching.

Students of international business and organizational behavior are familiar with the concept, 'Core Competencies of the Corporation'. Core competencies generally reflect unique skills and talents not easily replicated by market rivals. Economic efficiency and growth is maximized when firms pursue a market stragtegy defined by their core comepetencies. The AMEC also has core competencies. These competencies should be identified in her mission statement in a brief and clear manner. I would be tempted to wager that 6 months from now if the question is raised to correctly define the AME Mission Statement, fewer than 1 in 25 members even from this august group of posters would get a grade "A". QED

-- Anonymous, March 27, 2003


Do we know the Magna Carta, The Preamble to The Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment or the Bill of Rights? These of course are still effective and were all written centuries ago.

As a teacher in today's high-tech society I found it useless to require my students to learn many things by rote. I found it more useful to teach them to read and locate the information source. If my students could do this well then they deserved the A they got. Why then is it necessary to learn or recite our Mission Statement from rote? It would be just as effective and perhaps more beneficial to know where it may be found; to know how to read and it interpret what it says. Then one may act upon it and the effect is still the same.

-- Anonymous, March 27, 2003

Brother Matthew,

If we took your argument to its logical extreme, why should we teach our children and congregants to memorize Scripture? Wouldn't it be enough to simply know where it is?

I agree with you that we need to take a conceptual approach with some subjects, but not all, and especially not in church.

-- Anonymous, March 28, 2003

Robert: You are quite correct. I have long forgotten The Magna Carta and still make mistakes when quoting the Preamble. However, I do know the Bill of Rights as well as the Reconstruction Amendments (13, 14 & 15).

Here are a few randomly selected corporate mission statements.

"At Silvon, our mission is to deliver powerful Analytic Applications and Business Intelligence solutions that are quick to implement and provide quantifiable results and a fast return-on-investment for our customers. It is our belief that we can fulfill this mission through a unique combination of industry vision, supply chain expertise and innovative technology."

"Chemex's (tm) goal is to manufacture a consistently high quality product with timely delivery and dependable factory support at competitive prices in today's highly competitive worldwide marketplace."

"Intercon is dedicated to the protection and preservation of assets, people, property, and information for select clientele. Our goal is to lead the marketplace while providing a fair rate of return to the company. We will accomplish this by offering an innovative blend of quality services and products to create the most effective and efficient protection possible. Intercon's strength will always be service. Our professional standards will be maintained because we are committed to our employees - a highly trained and motivated team of proud specialists."

The common denominator for each of the above mission statements examples is clarity and brevity. Each company clearly expresses what is intends to do and how they will accomplish the goals. The longest mission statement consists of just four sentences. To reiterate, brevity is an important mnemonic tool and helps executive staff and all workers know beyond a shadow of doubt about corporate identity and purpose. If this is the standard bearer for Corporate America why can't the AMEC use this as a benchmark? The current AME Mission Statement hinders easy identity and purpose created by unnecessary length. All grammarians extol the virtue of using an efficient amount of words. QED

-- Anonymous, March 28, 2003

Reverend Harper,

Since I am consistent in my teaching this is exractly what I do. I have not required my students at church to learn Scriptures from rote since we used to do it at our meals and everyone scrambled to be first to say "Jesus Wept."

The present information data base is much to large to learn anything by rote. Thus, I find it more beneficial to teach them to read the Bible as a whole and to buy a good concordance to locate the passages they need. For, all too often I find that when we repeat Scripture by rote it is totally removed from its context and the meaning is lost. Consequently we know that Jesus wept but we don't know when or why. You will find me attentive during the sermon but you won't find me writing it down.

Using this method both I and my students have discovered that the Holy Spirit daily illuminates the passages we need. So, we can recall and locate hundreds of passages now from our constant use and dependence on them. Among the many these include, "The Lord is my shepherd" and "Jesus wept."

-- Anonymous, March 28, 2003

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