7 Steps Preventing Mission Drift

October 29, 2014

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I’m posting on A Life Overseas today on the topic of Mission Drift. This discussion is based on the fantastic book, Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches, by Peter Greer which I highly recommend.

Peter Greer is the president of HOPE International, a global faith-based microfinance organization based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He recently spoke at the Catalyst Conference I attended.

Over at A Life Overseas, I recount what Missions Drift is as well as some qualities of a Mission True organization from the book.

I encourage you to go take a look. This post is best read second, after the A Life Overseas post.

Here we are going to go a bit deeper and look at avoiding this inevitable slide.

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7 Steps to Prevent Mission Drift:

1. Believe the Gospel Matters.
Compare these two quotes.

“There’s an ugly secret of global poverty, one rarely acknowledged by aid groups or U.N. reports. It’s a blunt truth that is politically incorrect, heartbreaking, frustrating, and ubiquitous: It’s that IF the poorest families spend as much money educating their children as they do on wine, cigarettes, and prostitutes, their children’s prospects would be transformed.”

Nick Kristof of the New York Times offers these observations but no answers.

Matthew Paris counters with this thought in the British Times:

“Now as a confirmed atheist, I’ve become convince of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGO’s, government projects, and international aid efforts. The alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa, Christianity changes people’s hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good.”

The gospel has life changing power, not merely life improving power!

2. Believe that Mission Drift happens.
Mission drift is inevitable if you do nothing to prevent it.

3. Differentiate Mission from Means – Confusing methods with mission. The YMCA started as one of the most powerful ministries around, brought to the USA by Dwight Moody. Now they provide physical exercise but no longer have the Christian focus. In a different way, Young Life used to evangelize using barbershop quartets. They no longer do this but remain Mission True.

4. Hiring – every decision is an opportunity to grow closer to the mission or wander. Veggie Tales had rapid rise and fall. Phil Viscer declared his commitment to Christ during a speech. His President opted out after that speech because he did not want to be apart of that type of group…but he had run the company for two years and did not realize it.

In our hiring we can forget to screen the heart

5. Follow the Money. Donors can have the power over you which causes drift. The lure of money can cause us to compromise where we never thought we would. “Our mission is not for sale”

6. You get what you Measure. – Can measure funds and growth, but where is the internal culture at?

We can be intoxicated by numerical growth while undermining things such as quality or team morale and culture

7. Guard your Heart. – If there is not inner growth in all the leaders and staff, drift will occur. We cannot merely focus on what we do and our activities

Drift happens organizationally, but also on a personal level. Countless marriages start out well and then drift, finding themselves in an entirely different place. Our personal faith and mission is not exempt either.

If you believe you are immune then you are the most vulnerable.

In what areas of life and organizations are we at risk for drift? Where has it already occurred?

For more on this topic, please visit Mission Drift’s website. Pick up a copy today!

photo credit: marfis75 via photopin cc

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God