I consulted with two large and very effective ministry organizations this week. Both are freshly engaging and experiencing the power of singularity. The power of singularity is narrowing the essence to one thing. 

In organizational terms we refer to this one thing as mission. Yet most leaders never capture and lead from a defining, thoroughgoing sense of one thing. The big question is why? The answer is that they substitute strategy for mission.

Your one thing is your mission, your strategy is how you accomplish the mission. Mission is what we do, strategy is how we do it.

Most of the time I see a statement of mission, or talk to a leader about their sense of mission, they are speaking strategy, not mission. What about you?


Look at or write down your mission as a ministry.

  • Count the number of "and" words in it. 

  • Count the number of commas. 

  • Count the number of words. 

If you have any "and" statements, any commas or more than 15 words, most likely you are articulating strategy not mission.


The mission of Google is  to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. I think this is a clear, concise and compelling mission. Yet it does crack open the door to NOT having the power of singularity. The clue to this is the two "and" statements. Why did they introduce these? 

They are introduced because they are important aspects of vision equity, but all the words of this mission do not answer the same questions. What is the core of this mission? What is Google's one thing? I would suggest that their core is "making information accessible." Their one thing is not organization; their one thing is not making information useful.

Now look at how knowing the one thing clarifies everything else. If their mission is actually,"Making the world's information universally accessible" than "organization" is one step in HOW they do it (strategy). The idea that the information is "useful" is WHY they do it (values). Look at the new mission I am recommending for Google. Is it better? 

Now we begin to see the benefits of the tool I call the Vision Frame, which brings clarity to the essence of these defining questions. 


This dilemma in how we think is so profound, that even one of our best selling ministry books gets it wrong. I absolutely love and highly recommend Simple Church by my friends Eric Geiger and Thom Rainer. But in their excellent book on having a simple ministry process, they mistakingly recommend using the process as a mission statement. So yet again we substitute "the how" to getting the mission done with the mission itself.

If you want to read a bit more on "One Thing" check out this week's helpful little post from Mac Lake. 
Topics: Date: Aug 20, 2010 Tags: Google / Mission / one thing / simple church / strategy