Blurry Vision

Vision statements.

Every company has one, as I'm pretty sure it's now law for all organizations in the United States today.

I was cleaning around the dining room at Panera this afternoon and overheard some graduate marketing students analyzing companies' vision statements. They were so impressed with the way some company waxed eloquently about how they value people over profit yada, yada, yada. I wanted to stop over and tell them that whoever wrote that was full of crap, but I didn't. I was wearing an apron while throwing away someone's half-eaten sandwich; I don't think they would've taken me seriously.

I'm not a big fan of vision statements. I checked online to see what Panera's vision statement is. I guess it's sad that I'm an employee and don't know it, but this is the closest thing I found:

We are bakers of bread. We are fresh from the oven. We are a symbol of warmth and welcome. We are a simple pleasure, honest and genuine. We are a life story told over dinner. We are a long lunch with an old friend. We are your weekday morning ritual. We are the soft doughy insides and the crunchy crust. We are the kindest gesture of neighbors. We are home. We are family. We are friends. We are Panera.

Now isn't that special? As I visualize this vision statement in my mind, it looks like this:

Cute, huh? I want to cuddle Panera and listen to it purr in my lap.

But the reality of it is, vision statements are hardly ever a true reflection of your organization. Especially corporations who have but one measure of success: money. Despite the best efforts of executives to pay consultants to develop these elaborate statements, they're useless. It's all for show. The vision statement might be sweet little kitten, but in my mind, the company actually resembles this:

This company will eat my lap and purr after it has ripped my body into tiny little pieces. *Not an intended reference to Aslan or Disney's marketing techniques.

Don't misunderstand me here: I'm not trying to dump on corporations for making money. There's nothing wrong with turning a profit; that's the American way. It's how you stay in business. But why do they have to create bogus vision statements to dupe people into thinking that money isn't the main thing? Corporations can sued for false advertising but are untouchable when it comes to false vision statements. They're just dumb.

Now let me bring this discussion into the realm I am most familiar with. In the late 80's/early 90's churches started to buy into the vision statement trend. Every church and their grandmother were forming committees and spending months hashing out word-for-word how best to present themselves. Then they had huge unveilings, spending weeks of sermons to explain their new statements. Does it make a difference? I'm doubtful.

At Echo we have what could be deemed a vision statement. It's less a statement and more a motto: "resonating the Voice of God throughout the city and to the ends of the earth." I'm not sure that qualifies as a vision statement; it's just stating of the obvious. I think the only reason we came up with it is to try to get money from church planting groups [and that didn't work]. It does have a nice sound to it, you think?

FRIENDS, HERE'S MY POINT: Your organization is defined by how it actually is and not by a vision statement. You are what you are. If you're all about money, it will show through regardless how smoothly the vision statement rolls off one's tongue. And if you really care about people, they'll know and you won't need a statement to keep you focused. We focus too much about vision statements when we need to open our eyes and see what's really there.

My prayer for Echo is that we might be all about Jesus. I want us to be so much about Christ that when people visualize our church, that they think of Him. Now that's a picture I can't wait to see.