The Shrinking Church
Leadership Thoughts for Reversing the Trend


Prologue and Introduction: Intent and PurposeThe Shrinking Church

This thread of articles is for clergy and leaders of mainline protestant churches. The purpose is to recognize systemic dysfunctions and leadership gaps that are limiting the effectiveness of the local church, and many times are in the way of true and effective ministries. For the full statement, see Post #1 of the ongoing series. The intent is to promote dialogue through, and awareness of, possibilities for growing healthy ministries of any kind.


Post #11:
Using the Great Commission as a Church Mission Statement is Irresponsible!

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.– Matthew 28:16-20

Mission Statement

A Mission Statement, in my world, is a decision organizations make about how to implement their vision. The Vision Statement is defining the purpose for the organization, the “Why” it exists, and defining the future in the present tense. Others who lead strategic planning have other definitions for these terms.

Defining a mission for the church is a choice that members make about answering God’s call for that particular congregation. The Great Commission is not a choice. It’s a Biblical mandate for churches. As Paul Borden states, churches not following the Great Commission are disobedient to scripture. A mission is a choice. The Great Commission is not a choice.

Making disciples is a continuous process. We must continue to make disciples even though we are not good at it! Then these disciples are motivated and charged to work toward fulfilling the mission for ministry.


As a musical conductor, I understand the need for a road map for choirs and orchestras to follow. It’s with careful intentional planning (the sheet music is the result of this “planning” called “composing”) that everyone in the culture knows how to be engaged in the process and knows what the ultimate outcome is supposed to be.

Our duty and delight, as spiritual leaders of a congregation, is to clearly state the vision God has given us and to allow others to play into that vision. Many times pastors don’t want to articulate their vision. I’m remembering a conversation I had with Bishop Dick Wills in planning a two-day session with his cabinet around this topic of a vision. He said to me, in response to my question about who sets a vision, “I don’t remember any place in the Bible where God gave a vision to a committee!”

It’s Leadership!

Here’s my summary, yet again, for how I define leadership:

A leader…

…Gets thing done (results driven).

…Knows or discovers HOW things get done (process).

…Influences others in achieving a common vision (impact).


Principally, leaders lead by influencing others to perform at a high standard.

What’s your vision (destination) for the church you lead? And the companion mission (application of the vision)?

Please comment below.




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Hugh Ballou

The Transformational Leadership StrategistTM

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