Photo Credit: Peter K. Greer, President & CEO of Hope International
[From the Archives]
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-14, 16
Peter Greer and Chris Horst (with Anna Haggard) wrote an incredible little book entitled Mission Drift. The book’s byline is “The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches”. I enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone who has invested their lives in a faith-based organization, or Christ-centered business, or Christian charity. In fact, if you haven’t already read it, and you’re a Christ-follower, please make it a priority.
Mission drift is the slow and insidious shift away from the original mission, purpose, and identity of an organization. Greer and Horst have done extensive research on organizations who have either remained “mission true” or have fallen sadly away from their mission. The stories are fascinating and compelling. They lay a foundation that can help all of us prevent mission drift in our own lives and in our spheres of influence.
12 quotes from the book follow. These are just to whet your appetite. Mission Drift is an easy read and the truths resonate with our desire to be faithful and true stewards.
“Mission Drift…is pervasive and affects faith-based organizations of all varieties – nonprofits, churches, denominations, businesses, foundations, and schools. ..be optimistic…that drift is not inevitable.” (pp. 19, 22)
“Mission True organizations know why they exist and protect their core at all costs. They remain faithful to what they believe God has entrusted them to do. They define what is immutable: their values and purposes, their DNA, their heart and soul…To remain Mission True is to adapt and grow, so long as that adaptation and growth does not alter the core identity.” (p. 27)
“Mission True organizations know who they are and actively safeguard, reinforce, and celebrate their DNA. Leaders constantly push toward higher levels of clarity about their mission and even more intentionality about protecting it.” (p. 51)
“Leaders often first ask what, then move to how, and finally transition to why. ..Great innovators…start with why. The ordering really matters. Everything flows from why. Not only does it motivate others to join you, it also guides what you do – and often more important – what you don’t do.” (pp. 71-72)
“The gravitational pull of secularism is felt perhaps most acutely in hiring…Mission True leaders hire carefully, intentionally, and prayerfully. They approach each hiring decision seriously, recognizing that each staff member represents the mission of the organization. ” (pp. 103, 107)
“Mission True organizations recruit and engage Mission True donors.” (p. 115)
“You are what you measure…Our highest goal is to remain faithful to our Christ-centered identity and mission. Because of our identity, we must pursue excellence. Metrics can be self-serving. We need to be clear why we pursue them. Seeing God for who He is clarifies our role: We are stewards. Metrics help us to remain accountable for the work that God has placed in our hands.” (pp. 131, 133, 136)
“Slapping an ichthus (the Christian fish symbol of the early church) on product packaging does not mean it honors God. Christian shoddy is still shoddy. In Mission True organizations, quality must be nonnegotiable.” (p. 139)
“‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ Mission True organizations get this. They focus on the little things. They understand how important practices and norms are to the living and breathing cultures of their organizations. The small decision each and every day may seem inconsequential, perhaps even trivial, but these little things protect against Mission Drift…Beyond policies, Mission True organizations recognize that culture is composed of all the ‘little things’.” (pp. 148-149, 155)
“Clear language reinforces identity and also leads to accountability. Being clear with your plans and identity enables people to keep you on mission. If you regularly talk about who you are, you invite scrutiny and accountability. Publicly proclaiming who you are strengthens your identity and empowers people to point out inconsistencies.” (p. 163)
“Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. 9 But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” – Luke 12:8-9
“For organizations who desire to protect against Mission Drift, one of the most powerful anchors is the local church…Wisdom lies in anchoring ourselves to the church as the church is anchored to Christ. Across time and culture and trends, the church remains.” (pp. 167, 173)
“Courageous Mission True leaders…have stood unwaveringly upon the Truth of the Gospel. In all areas, they have demonstrated intentionality and clarity in retaining Christian distinctiveness. They are committed to Christ, first and foremost.” (pp. 180-181)
One organization very dear to me keeps its mission before its personnel and donors in regular, consistent, creative and winsome ways. We know what we are about. There is never a doubt what we’re to be about. What safeguards does that beloved faith-based organization of yours have in place to hold back mission drift?
Peter K. Greer Blog