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Celebrating our 140th Anniversary

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Our Vision, Mission and Values

Tuesday 28th April 2020

There is a well told story of John F Kennedy visiting the NASA space centre in 1961. During the visit the President met a man carrying a broom and asked him about his role. The janitor apparently replied, “I am helping to put man on the moon”.

A great story that makes a great point. At its peak NASA’s Apollo programme employed 400,000 people. Thousands of people – all united, all connected, from janitor to astronaut working collectively towards the same common purpose and vision.

The Brigade may not be as big or have as complicated a structure as NASA, but we are an organisation of many different parts and many different people. We all care deeply about what we are doing and want it to be successful, we all have ideas, views and opinions about the best way this should happen.

Last year we conducted a strategic review to help shape and inform the direction we take over the next five years – different ideas were expressed though very clear common themes emerged, including the need to focus above all else on the quality of experience offered to young people.

You can read the findings of the Strategic Review by going to: leaders.boys-brigade.org.uk/strategicreview/


Beyond and above our new strategy, which will be launched later in the year and which sets out our direction of travel for the next five years, lies our vision, mission and values, and indeed the Object.

Our Vision explains why we do what we do.
Our Mission explains what we do.
Our Values describe who we are and what we believe

Over the last two years we have taken opportunities to explore with the Brigade family what they think about our vision and mission, and what they believe our values are. We have consulted with young people, leaders (including through the recent strategic review survey), staff and Trustees.

This work was sparked by the absence of any clearly articulated organisational values. Obviously, we are not a value-less organisation. The values are there, implicitly, but we don’t communicate them in any real way.

We have brought together the learning from what we have heard from the Brigade family and have outlined this below. To be clear this is not about diluting our Object- the advancement of Christ’s kingdom remains the bedrock of the Brigade.

Our Vision

Our vision is that “children and young people experience life to the full”.

A direct reference to John, Chapter 10, verse 10, where Jesus says that “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Our prayer and hope must surely be that children and young people experience life to the full through coming to know Jesus for themselves.

Our Mission

The Boys’ Brigade has faith in young people and provides them with opportunities to learn, grow and discover in a safe, fun and caring environment which is rooted in the Christian faith.

As Jonathan mentioned in his welcome to this Gazette (see page 4), we are an organisation that has Faith in Young People – believing in their abilities and talents to shape our organisation and the world around them. We also believe in, and our work is fundamentally about, providing opportunities to explore the Christian Faith and for those young people to come to know Jesus.

Our Values

Our values describe who we are and what we believe:

Faith – We are a Christian youth organisation, and our work is rooted in the Christian Faith. We have a hope in Christ as our anchor that sustains us throughout life (Hebrews 6:19).

Caring – The Boys’ Brigade is a family. We believe in building loving, caring and inclusive relationships, as well as creating a safe and fun environment that is supportive and nurturing. We are responsive to the needs and aspirations of others regardless of ability, identity or background.

Inspiring – We seek to inspire children and young people, challenging them to live their lives in the fullest sense. We also believe in people’s abilities to inspire and act as positive role models to others.

Trusting – We are honest and trustworthy. We seek to empower children and young people to participate and to lead, believing in their skills, abilities and ideas.


In any context vision, mission and values are essential for an organisation to function effectively, providing identity and a sense of shared purpose. They are important for every aspect of our work, including:

• Guiding how we work
• Having self confidence
• Communicating and engaging with the world

Guiding our work

At my daughters’ primary school the pupils are all very clear about their school’s values, what they mean and why they are important. Their sports hall has them emblazoned on the walls, the pupils have given presentations to parents on them, the Head Teachers email signature has them immediately under her name, and they are referred to in reports.

Our work, in every way and across every part of the organisation, should be guided like a compass by our vision, mission and particularly our values. Our actions and decision making must be based on who we are and what we stand for.


Being confident and clear in our vision, mission and values allows us to be bold and strong in who we are, to be self- confident. It is about us being unified at a foundational level. It is about us being bold and being strong, banishing fear and doubt – as described in chapter 1 of the book of Joshua.

Be Bold and Be Strong
Joshua 1

Let’s stop comparing ourselves with other organisations. We have much to be proud of, not least our history and heritage but also our who, what and why – which is still as relevant today as its ever been, if not more so.

Let’s be confident in who we are – a Christian youth organisation, and also how we engage with our partners, the most important partner being the local Church. We have so much to offer in terms of outreach to young people across the country.

Communicating and engaging with the outside world

One of the constants that I have heard since starting in post three years ago, are leaders’ frustrations with our profile and organisational visibility. I think we have to acknowledge at the start of a new decade that our public profile is not huge.

So how do we tell people about The Boys’ Brigade. Well marketing has changed over the last few decades to become increasingly about values. For example, technology giants will talk less about the specifications of their product and more about what they say it is designed to give the user – bold words like ‘creativity’ and ‘freedom’. Adverts for things like kitchens now even attempt to connect with selling the idea of ‘family’, rather than how good the drawers or cupboards are!

Vision, Mission and Values is about engaging with people – a parent, a teacher, a potential donor – who aren’t aware of us or who have existing preconceptions which need challenged.

Advancing Christ’s kingdom

Refocusing and re-affirming our Vision, Mission and Values is not about changing or diluting the Object of the Brigade.

In order to live our Object it is important though that we connect and engage with the post-Christian world. It is an unfortunate fact, but a fact none the less, that the fastest- growing ‘religious’ group of our time is those who say they have no religion.

In an increasingly post-Christian world, where we operate as a counter-cultural organisation – we must explain and expand upon ‘Advancing Christ’s kingdom’. To a person who has little or no base knowledge of the Bible, the Gospels, or of concepts like salvation we must find a way need to engage with them – otherwise we cannot meet our Object.

I remember attending a youth conference in Scotland in 2018 – where speaker after speaker referred to the ‘new’ idea of love in youth work. We should be able to say that as a Christian youth organisation love has been central to our work for 136 years.

However, have we ever told people that, have we celebrated that, have we shouted it from the rooftops?

Unfortunately I believe we have fallen behind secular youth organisations, who have claimed and are claiming these kinds of values in their work. We have not made the most of what should be one of our greatest strengths.

Explaining to people why we do what we do, should be strong ground for us – after all we do have an anchor. Love is important to our work, not because it’s becoming fashionable to say that, but because Christ’s kingdom is a kingdom based on love – that’s a message that’s over 2,000 years old.

What happens next?

Please don’t mistake this as an academic or ‘tick box’ exercise. This is not just about the wording in an annual report, or the ‘About Us’ section of a website. It is not something that we can say is complete now that an article has been written in the Gazette.

In many ways this is the easy bit… we now have to get on with living this all out in practise and in action.

I believe the new strategy, which was approved by the Executive in February is a first step in expressing this work. I believe the focus on the quality of experience for young people – roots us firmly back to our Object, Vision, Mission and Values.

To fully live our vision, mission and values we will all need to incorporate and embed them into everything we do.

Being confident in vision, mission and values is not something that will happen overnight, but I would urge every Company, Battalion and District to consider this work, and to consider how it is reflected in what you do, where you spend your time, energy and focus. We should always be asking the question – does this, and how does it, relate to our Object, Vision, Mission and Values. If it doesn’t then maybe, it’s not the right priority.

My prayer as we move into a five year period, that I believe will determine the future of the Brigade well beyond 2025, is that we are firmly focused on what we do and why we do it.

The most dangerous phrase in the world is we have always done it that way – Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

John Sharp
Director for Scotland

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  1. Georgette (4th Scarborough) says:

    I think this is wonderfully inspirational and refreshingly, and powerfully expressed in a way I hope, everyone can get behind. I have always been a huge supporter of strong and clearly expressed vision, mission and values. As long as they truly reflect reality – which I believe this does – it will be the most effective marketing tool we can have to increase our brand awareness to all. I’ve always felt very proud to be part of BB but particularly so right now.
    Georgette (day job Marketing Director – BB Captain)

  2. Kevin (21 Teesside) says:

    Its great to re-affirm our vision and values, expressing them in a modern language. Celebrate we are a Christian organization and the potential of every lad within our company.
    Kevin (day job Operations Manager – BB leader)

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