Amongst the many items in the storage unit from my parent’s house was a letter from 1945 from the Buffalo Evening News. It thanked my mother for helping to raise $506.43 for the “News Smoke Fund.” The letter went on to thank her and her friends for their efforts to “keep ‘em smoking”. It offered thanks on behalf of “every solider, sailor, marine, coast guardsman and others from Buffalo and Western New York.”
My mother never smoked. She was careful to provide an ongoing education to make sure her four children never smoked. Yet in 1945 before any of us existed, she helped to raise funds for cigarettes to support the war effort and those in the service during World War II.
Why is this a cautionary tale? It reminds us that:
1. Missions need to be reexamined to make sure they are current.
2. Missions need to go deep. Over sixty-five years, “Let them know we care about them” would have served better than “keep ‘em smoking”. The latter has not aged well—in fact its rather horrifying. Missions built on core values will age better.
3. Mission activities need careful planning. What else might the people of Western New York done besides “keep ‘em smoking”? Likewise, what else might you do besides your current programs?
For a related article on writing mission statements see How to Develop a Great Mission Statement.