Avoiding mission drift

30 Oct

This past weekend, the leaders of our church gathered to talk, dream, and brainstorm about the future. It was the first step in developing a 2020 vision. Following that session, I met with one of our boards to talk about the implications for their area of ministry. We proposed some tweaks to the ministry’s mission statement and discussed how to evaluate different areas within their ministry.

The day after these meetings, I sat down to read the current issue of Leadership Journal, Fall 2012. Marshall Shelley, the editor-in-chief, wrote an essay entitled, “The 5 Main Things.” He began by describing a similar experience with his church leaders.

A few weeks ago, our church leadership team went on retreat. It was an important time of refocusing on the essentials, the most important aspects of church life.

“Mission drift” is an ever-present temptation. We get distracted by so many things: pushy people, the demands of running programs, the desire to avoid conflict, financial pressures, new opportunities that are oh-so-attractive even if they’re not at the heart of our calling.

All of them can tempt us to shift our focus on secondary matters just for the sake of expediency. As Peter Drucker puckishly put it: “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

For leaders, the never-ending task is “to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Shelley’s essay was a good reminder to remain focused on the biblical goals, values, and purpose we laid out for our church.

The magazine also included the following cartoon. It seemed quite appropriate after the dreams I shared at the retreat.


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