Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mission Drift...

Three Decision Making Factors to Determine Mission Alignment

It happened again. It may have been a “good idea” or, even more likely, something you have “always done,” but you as the leader realize that the ministry, activity, or task has absolutely nothing to do with the mission of your organization. You may have spent months discerning and articulating the mission. You spent hours hammering out the non-negotiables of ministry, clarifying the core values, framing God’s vision for your church or organization.  You have the statement narrowed down to a single memorable phrase or just a few focused words that center on loving God, supporting believers, and serving the community but in the middle of the task you realize you have succumbed to mission drift. How did it happen?

Mission drift occurs when we fail to consistently and constantly measure everything we do as a church or organization by the over-arching mission, vision, and values we have articulated. Before long it becomes a statement that is hung over the water fountain and printed on the stationary but has no real impact upon the culture and direction of the organization. To avoid this from happening to you I recommend three decision making measures to insure compatibility with your mission. In every case the ministry, activity, or task must relate to your mission, vision, and values:

Directly—the connection to the mission, vision, and values should be obvious. It should not have to be “tweaked” or manipulated to align with the mission statement. This is where the “good ideas” get us off mission. If you try hard enough you can force something to sort of fit your mission. To remain truly mission driven the connection to your mission, vision, and values should be self-evident.

Passionately—it should generate spiritual and emotional energy and excitement. There is a time and a season for everything, and sometimes it is valid and valuable to let a ministry end. Organizations tend to hold onto ministries, activities, and tasks long after they have ceased to be effective and fruitful. If an activity becomes a “have-to” rather than a “get-to” then your team needs to ruthlessly evaluate its future. It could be time to set it aside for a while or end it all together. I think it was Jesus who reminded us that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, a new stalk can never grow. The ministry you are clinging to could be inhibiting the next great ministry you are looking for.

Responsibly—the outcome should justify the investments of time, money, and energy it will require to do it with excellence. The last measure is a test of stewardship. Is the potential impact of the ministry, activity, or task worth the investment of lay ministry time, emotional energy, and money it will take to do it with excellence? I have noticed that we expect excellence in the world and accept average in the church. If God is calling you to move into a new direction, or even continue in a previous one, shouldn’t you do it, “as unto the Lord?”  Remember, every resource you spend on the project is a gift from somebody’s heart, be it their tithes, talents, or time. Use these divine investments to the greatest Kingdom gain.

It seems I am constantly struggling with “mission drift.” Some days I feel like the “mission police” where I have to continually ask others to explain how their awesome idea relates to our central mission, our core values, and our vision for what God has called us to do. This is what I have discovered, however, when a ministry, activity, or task aligns with our mission directly, passionately, and responsibly it produces Kingdom results. So, I will continue to fight against “mission drift” because I remain:

Consumed by the Call,
Marty
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