Staying Mission True - 1

19 March 2015

A. What do we mean by “Mission Drift” and “Mission True?”

Mission Drift is a book written by Peter Greer and Chris Horst, of HOPE International. They have done an amazing work, researching dozens of organizations, ministries, universities and companies to see which percentage of them have stayed faithful to their original mission. They have tried to identify the factors representing a danger for mission drift, of slipping little by little away from what the founders had in mind when they started. They also give strong recommendations on building safeguards in different elements.

How do Greer and Horst define a Mission True organization?

In its simplest form, 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. 

This doesn’t mean Mission True organizations don’t change. And it doesn’t mean they aren’t striving for excellence. In fact, their understanding of their core identity will demand they change. And their understanding of Scripture will demand they strive for the very highest levels of excellence. But growth and professionalism are subordinate values. To remain Mission True is to adapt and grow, so long as that adaptation and growth does not alter the core identity.[1] 

Darlene Cunningham challenged us to read this book during the YWAM gathering in Singapore in September 2014. After reading it and having heard Darlene speak about it during our Executive Master in Leadership in February 2015 in San Diego-Baja, I have become even more convinced that we need to consider this warning seriously and to let the Holy Spirit search our hearts and highlight the way we function as King’s Kids International, as this puts words on something we have been sensing as a Core Leadership Team for several years now.

B. Examples of Mission Drift

The book describes scores of organizations that have drifted from their original mission, like YMCA, Harvard, Yale and many others. Over time, new leadership came in, with new ideas, and new ways of doing things. The Christian aspect became less and less important and at one point they decided to get rid of it. Other times, it is caused by unwise handling of finances, or by inviting business-oriented people onto their board that didn’t understand the DNA of the mission and wanted to run it like a business.

Other companies or organizations are good examples of what it means to stay Mission True: Cru, Compassion, and Intervarsity have stayed committed to their original mission and even improved their effectiveness and clarity of mission through the years.

I would like to highlight one sentence of the book: “The founders’ passion rarely translates to subsequent generations of leadership. Too often, the passions of the first generation become the preferences of the second generation and are irrelevant to the third generation.”[2]

King’s Kids will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year. Are we still in our original mission? Our founders are still here, and we have the chance to have an international fellowship of leaders with a healthy mixture of ages, the younger ones having opportunity to rub shoulders with older ones and draw from their DNA. But we are not immune to mission drift and we need to process together how we can safeguard what we consider as essential.

 

[1] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, Mission Drift, Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 27.

[2] Peter Greer and Chris Horst, Mission Drift, Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 27.