Every business or ministry had a reason for its beginning. In the mind of the executive or ministry leader, there was a specific reason for launch. At the root of their existence was a service to be provided; whether it was for profit or not. In the beginning, it is very clear what the purpose and mission is. It is very easy to hold onto it. Over time however, the organization begins to make decisions and set priorities that pull them away from the original mission which causes a blurring of the lines. In the military community this phenomenon is known as mission creep. It is the broadening of the mission beyond the original goals and objectives. In the secular world it goes by a different name: mission drift. Peter Greer and Chris Horst, both serving with HOPE International have written a new book dealing with this very issue. “Mission Drift; The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches” is their contribution to the defeat of this silent killer.
Mission Drift can be defined as the gradual movement of a business or ministry away from its founding principles and mission. This is the natural tendency of any business or ministry. The authors begin their explanation of mission drift by providing a case study. They highlighted Harvard and Yale. Both Ivy League schools were, at their inception, schools dedicated to the training and equipping of pastors in the proclamation of the gospel. Fast forwarding to the current day, we see these two institutions have drifted from their distinctively Christian founding. Greer and Horst smartly weave stories of other companies who drifted from their original mission. Mission Drift organizations include Harvard, Yale, Big Idea® (Veggie Tales), Child Fund®, YMCA®, Pew Trusts®, and United Airlines®. The authors introduce another phrase into the discussion early on: mission true. Mission True organizations protect their identity and remain faithful to their founding principles/mission. In an attempt to educate organizations on how to remain true to their mission, Greer and Horst offer thirteen characteristics of Mission True organizations. A sample of those characteristics are that these organizations make hard decisions to protect and propel their mission, assume they will drift and build safeguards against it, and boldly proclaim their core tenets to protect themselves from drift. At the end of each chapter, there are steps to carrying out the given instruction. Examples of Mission True organizations are HOPE International ®, Intervarsity®, Young Life®, Cru®, and Buck Knives®.
As a pastor, I can see the reality of this book. Knowing our true purpose, it is a challenging task to keep society and culture from dictating what we do. Greer and Horst have written a book that will serve organizations positively in their pursuit of remaining mission true. The authors close with this statement, “Today, you have the privilege of choosing which path your organization, church, and ministry will take. Will you follow the path toward Mission Drift or will you have the intentionality, courage, and resolve to follow a path of faithfulness?” A solid, helpful, and much-needed work. I would recommend this book to all organizational and ministry leaders.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”