Over the course of 30 plus years in ministry I have encountered in many ways the “Mission Drift” or “Vision Drift” that Andy Stanley talks about. This is when any organization, but more specifically a church, loses sight of the true mission. They become focused on things other than the mission of making disciples who make disciples.
In some cased the mission becomes making everyone comfortable. When the goal is complete and absolute church harmony the message becomes watered down and bland. No challenges are put forth. No changes proposed. No sin confronted. The church usually settles into a steady rhythm of a few songs, a few words of mediocre content, pie and coffee on occasion, and holiday events that makes everyone warm and fuzzy. If sin is mentioned it is in the context of “those bad people out there”. Seldom is there talk of saving these lost people. There is talk of gaining new members (not disciples). We want folks to join, but not at the cost of confronting their lostness and sinfulness. That would be very uncomfortable…..
Or the mission can become the building itself. Every aspect of church life centers around maintaining the building and / or paying off the mortgage. Church is no longer seen as a fellowship of disciples, but rather as a building. The board / leadership becomes a permission granting entity with the duty of protecting the investment. It can get so bad that raising money is the entire focus. One church that I know of is currently near closing its doors. The revenue and attendance cannot keep pace with the debt. When a sister congregation asked about coming to the building and having a prayer service to pray for the life and health of the struggling church one response was to question how much rent they would pay for the time involved. Really? That would be like me facing a life or death crisis with my grandson and greeting your offer to pray for me with a list of fees to do so.
The mission is not impossible — unless we mess it up. If Tom Cruise and the Impossible MIssion team forget what they are after the mission goes south in a hurry. The mirco-film is the mission. The cars, gadgets, masks, etc are all just tools to get there and recover it. Forgetting that takes the mission completely off track.
The church is to make disciples. Those disciples are to be equipped to make more disciples.
Paul said, “I press on toward the prize”. In another context he noted that “this ONE THING I do”.
Are you clear about your mission? It really does matter.