One of the dreams of almost every leader is to see every person within an organization motivated by the same mission and vision.

The reality is very few organizations—and very few churches—function that way.

how to get your team passionate about mission

Most leaders have had an unsettling feeling that they might be the most passionate person about their mission, and wonder how on earth to get dozens, hundreds or even thousands of others on board instead of wandering off on their own course.

Well, you can change that. And it’s simpler (and more challenging at the same time) than you think.


Why Strategy Trumps Mission and Vision

If you really want people on board with a vision, your strategy is critical.

In fact, strategy trumps mission and vision. A great mission and vision with a bad strategy will fail.

Stripping everything back to basics will reveal why. (And I’ll use the mission, vision and strategy of Connexus Church where I serve to illustrate it.)

Mission = what we’re called to do. (To lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ)

Vision = why we’re called to do it. (To create a church unchurched people love to attend—this is why we started it!)

Strategy = how we’ll accomplish it. (The steps we’ve chosen to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus)

If you don’t clearly know how you’ll accomplish your mission, well…that’s the problem isn’t it?


Why Anything Goes…Doesn’t

Most leaders have people pleasing tendencies (I blogged about the problems with that here).

That means most of us have a hard time saying no when people ask to start a ministry or program.

The challenge with that of course, is that they often want to do things that they’re passionate about, not the things your organization or church was created to do.

So most church leaders end up with dozens or even hundreds of programs that run off in just as many directions and are sometimes only remotely related to the core purpose of the organization. Are programs like “Pets are People Too” or “Men Who Bike in Spandex Recovery Group” really central to the mission of the Church?

I’m not saying God doesn’t use them, but are those truly the best and most strategic ways to lead people into a growing relationship? They could easily be side projects people at your church engage in, rather than demand a line in the budget and organizational energy.

When you allow programs and ministries to spring up randomly, you get a misaligned organization that’s off mission.

And as anybody who has tried to shut down some of these random ministries knows, sometimes these programs can behave like fortresses. They very passionately defend their right to exist.


Engagement Is Directly Related to Involvement

And that leads us to the main problem.

If you remember only ONE THING about this post, remember this:

What people become involved in becomes their mission.

Did you hear that?

Get someone involved in something and it becomes their mission. It becomes their cause. Their rallying cry. What they wake up thinking about.

People are most engaged with what they’re involved in. 

What people become involved in becomes their mission.


So…Only Do Things That Directly Align With Your Mission and Vision.

So how do you create a great strategy that fully supports your mission and vision?

Only do the things that directly align with your mission and vision. 

If you only offer a handful of things that directly fuel your mission and vision, people will become passionate about your mission and vision.  

So at Connexus, we only do a few things.

A weekend service that your unchurched friends will want to come back to.

Great family ministry environments for birth-college built around small group and large group time.

Starting Point—and environment for adults to begin exploring their role in God’s story.

Community Groups—strategic mid-week gatherings of 8-12 adults who gather for accountability, belonging and care (okay…and cake).

Partner with two or three local and global partners around issues of compassion and justice (foodbanks, missions etc).

When people ask what else we do…we tell them that’s it.

When they ask how they can be involved we tell them serve, give, invite a friend and be part a community group.

That’s it. That’s our strategy.


And Guess What?

That doesn’t have to be your strategy, but here’s the transferrable principle:

When you have a simple strategy that supports your mission and vision, people get passionate about your mission and vision.

They have no choice but to be. Because it’s all you do, and when they get involved, they become engaged.

It’s easy to understand, but it does take guts to implement.


Leave a Comment

Two questions:

How do you think strategy relates to mission and vision?

How will you simplify your strategy?

Leave a comment!


  1. Robert Charles on January 17, 2021 at 4:11 am

    I have learning more. I really enjoyed its reading this post enough to search for writing this excellent article and helpful post thanks for sharing.

  2. L-T on February 9, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Thanks. That’s very helpful. The strategy you outlined for your church is a weekly strategy for church life. Do you put together a 5-10 year strategy alongside that helps grow that strategy? If you know the difference I’m thinking about.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on February 9, 2015 at 8:46 pm

      Hey L-T, we do of sorts. We have a long term strategy that we pursue indefinitely, but review annually and revisit/rethink every 3-5 years. Whatever still works we keep. What’s stopped working or is losing effectiveness, we dump.

  3. Deborah Henry on November 3, 2014 at 4:23 am

    You can have a mission as to what you are called to do and a vision as to why you are to do it. If you have a strategy that does not take steps for your mission and/or vision, you are not accomplishing anything and the passion dies for any participation. Congregants need more steps than to just show up! If the church is about the leadership and staff and all their accomplishments; that is not a church! Everybody has a part. When those parts are stifled; people leave!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 4, 2014 at 7:18 am

      Well said Deborah!

      • Deborah Henry on November 4, 2014 at 3:18 pm

        Thank you kindly.

  4. Tom Werblow on January 3, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Carey: A lot of relationship building, but God’s story mentioned only in passing. I get that relationships are key, but it seems to me that the redemptive story of God is central. Probably understood but understand in my background I attended churches with an emphasis on relationships but no emphasis ( as in none ) on Biblical principles. Ignorance of God and His Word set in and anti-Biblical habits became the norm. Our work is to serve the master – too easy to lose sight of that. .

  5. The What And The Why » Anarchist Reverend on December 11, 2013 at 9:01 am

    […] other day I posted a link by Carey Nieuwhof talking about mission. A couple of people responded back with critique that mission isn’t nearly as important as vision. […]

  6. This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg on December 10, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    […] a week ago Carey Nieuwhof offered this reflection on how to get one’s church passionate about its mission.  It’s a good reflection on congregations and mission.  Strategy is important, instead of […]

  7. Link I'm Loving! » Anarchist Reverend on December 10, 2013 at 9:04 am

    […] again, Carey Nieuwhof knocks it out of the park with this post about how to get your church passionate about your mission. I am convinced that a clear and vital mission is crucial to churches. In this post Carey writes […]

  8. Lawrence W. Wilson on December 2, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    We’re re-thinking strategy right now, and here’s the hard part: we won’t know for sure that our strategy will work until we try it. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to let go of old programs: like a fast-food restaurant, they may not be great but at least we know what they deliver.

  9. Tom Pelham on December 2, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Hi Carey
    Love your insights and grateful to God for you; thank you! Have you any specific thoughts about transitioning a long established (360years) denominational church from too much activity to a specific strategy?
    Tom Pelham.

  10. Greg Martin on December 2, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Great thoughts, Carey. 2013 was the year of ‘clearing the clutter’ for me, and this post wraps it up nicely. Blessings.

  11. Rob Sellitto on December 2, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Thank you for your thoughts Carey, always appreciate your insight. I’ve been trying to wrestle through this very issue, having come into a church that is very misaligned it’s a difficult task to try and bring alignment.

  12. Jody Hooven on December 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    This is excellent! Thank you for the renewed inspiration! It doesn’t have to be that complicated.

  13. Bill Hamilton on December 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Hey Carey, love how you flesh out strategy being the steps you’ve chosen to accomplish the mission, “the how.” Both sides of the border, we can err by being focused on mission and vision, but vague on strategy. Great leaders rally around a great strategy. Working against that is the pull of being people pleasers, insider pleasers. Maybe Canadians even more so, we are consensus lovers culturally (eh? …see…there it shows again!). The clearer our commitment to the strategy, the easier it is to say no to programs that take us sideways, or ultimately nowhere. Loved your post!

  14. Justin Hiebert on December 2, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Good word and reminder to practice clarity and simplicity.

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