In the last quarterly staff meeting of 2013, president & CEO Harold Smith shared our ministry's new vision and mission statements.
"Everything we do as Christianity Today the ministry is tied to our vision and mission," said Smith in his introduction to the new statements.
He explained that the statements have always been "tweaked" since Christianity Today started in 1956, yet "never radically changed." The latest tweaks have been a few years in the making, coming from various staff, cabinet, and board meetings, and a brainstorming session during an all-staff retreat.
Smith explained that the mission statement is "designed to speak to us as a staff" as it both presents a goal to achieve as well as guidance in reaching that goal. The vision statement is our end game, "or what we hope will result from our doing the mission day in and day out," he said.
Staff members were then given cards with the new vision and mission statements, as well as the distinctives—"the context from which we pursue our mission and vision," Smith said.
CT's new vision statement: The church grown up into the fullness of Christ, was then discussed in more detail by Mark Galli, editor of Christianity Today magazine.
The statement is based in Ephesians 4:13, where Paul discusses the purpose of the church in its gifts and ministries is "until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Earlier in Ephesians, it states: "He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love" (1:4, NRSV). "To be holy and blameless in love is to exhibit the very fullness of Christ," Galli wrote in a follow-up e-mail. "This is our destiny." We—as individuals, as communities—are called to live into the fullness of Christ every day.
Christianity Today has always been focused on the church. "It is only right and good that our vision for that church be the vision of Paul, and more accurately, the vision of God himself for us: that the entire body of Christ grow up more and more into Christ," wrote Galli.
Marshall Shelley, editor of Leadership Journal, further explained CT's new mission statement, based in Romans 12: Equipping Christians to renew their minds, serve the church, and create culture to the glory of God.
Shelley recalled other revisions to the CT mission statement throughout his 30-year career, which bugged him at first: "Why can't we get one mission statement settled and for all time?"
Yet missions change. Shelley talked about Marines delivering food, water, and medical supplies to those in the Philippines following the recent typhoon. While the Marines' mission is Semper Fi ("always faithful"), that changes according to the situation: combat, peacekeeping, disaster relief, etc. "The mission can look different depending on the situation," Shelley said. "At CT, our mission can look different, depending on the situation."
He reminded staff of past mission statements, where the mission was to build different magazines or to expand into the digital community, depending on the present circumstances. Our mission is different today, yet it "doesn't mean we forsake previous mission statements. We build on those," said Shelley.
He broke the statement down to explain each part more thoroughly: we help Christians renew their minds because it is too easy today to "conform to the patterns of this world" (Rom. 12:2). CT acknowledges that we need to recognize authentic Christianity, and strives to point to that, not a reflection of the world around us.
Next, Christianity Today serves the church. This covers a lot of areas and different kinds of people, both individuals and communities. For example, Shelley pointed out Church Law & Tax's work in serving the church organization by providing information on safety, health, and finances; PreachingToday.com serves churches by assisting pastors with sermon illustrations; and SmallGroups.com provides group leaders with "frontline" discipleship through its training and materials.
Finally, we help Christians create culture. "In your home, there's a culture. In your small group, there's a culture. In your workspace, there's a culture," Shelley said. "You may not be able to totally control it, but you certainly have influence over each of the cultures in your life."
CT staff members will work together to determine what these statements mean for the brands and teams they're a part of. As Smith said at the conclusion of the meeting, "Would God continue to bless this ministry as we together carry out our mission and press toward our vision in the days ahead."
Elissa Cooper is assistant editor of Christianity Todaymagazine.