In our last post, It’s The Mission Stupid!, we addressed the tendency of organizations to lose focus on their original mission through the gradual broadening of the objectives of the original mission. This process is referred to as mission drift, or mission creep because of its incremental nature. We provided several reasons churches are especially vulnerable to mission creep. Fortunately, mission creep is entirely avoidable. In this article we look at some specific actions your church or organization can take to maintain focus on its purpose.
Eight Ways To Avoid Mission Creep
1. Develop a Written Mission Statement
It’s essential that your church has a clearly defined and easily understood mission statement. Bring key stakeholders together to develop a short and concise mission statement. Keep in mind that your mission statement clarifies why you exist, the purpose of your church or organization.
2. Make Your Mission Statement Highly Visible
Your mission statement must be visible for employees, members and stakeholders to take seriously. This means a prominent spot on your church’s home web page, social media postings, Sunday bulletin and other publications. Consider having the mission statement painted on a prominent wall of your church. An annual sermon on the church’s mission will also help to keep the mission before the congregation, and more importantly, help them understand the church’s mission and how it is being carried out.
3. Structure Your Church Budget Around Your Mission
Organizing your budget around the mission of the church not only helps the congregation better understand the mission, it ensures that you maintain focus on the mission by the way you allocate budget dollars.
4. Use Your Mission Statement to Make Key Decisions
Your mission statement should act as a filter for major decision making within your church. So, when a new initiative or new opportunity presents itself, consider the following questions:
- Does this opportunity/initiative/decision align with our mission?
- Will this opportunity/initiative/decision help further our mission?
- Will this opportunity/initiative/decision divert or dilute resources away from our mission?
If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, you should take time to reconsider if this opportunity/initiative/decision should be pursued or if it can be modified in such a way as to better align with your church’s mission.
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Say No
It is not uncommon in churches for powerful interest groups and influential donors to get behind an initiative/opportunity/decision that fulfills their interests but doesn’t necessarily further the mission of the church. Saying “no” to these people, especially when they are willing to provide the funding, may seem counterintuitive, but the mission creep that saying yes can cause can be much more costly to the church in the long run. So don’t be afraid to say no to funding opportunities or special interest group requests that don’t tangibly support your church’s mission.
6. Use Your Mission Statement In Decision Making
Your church’s mission statement should be the first filter used in virtually all-important decisions. All staff and leaders in your church’s governance structure should be trained in a process on how to do this and be expected to share how any decision they propose aligns with and helps fulfill the church’s mission. Further, outside groups that want to use your facility should be expected to provide in writing how their organization and the specific event they want you to host aligns with your church’s mission.
7. Conduct An Annual Assessment
The annual budget planning process is an ideal time to revisit the events, initiatives, and programs offered in the past year to determine if they actually furthered the mission of the church. Pruning from the budget those events, initiatives and programs that don’t measurably further the church’s mission is a great way to avoid mission creep.
8. Revisit and Reevaluate Your Mission
Revisit your mission statement regularly to evaluate if it is still the most relevant and clear expression of your church’s mission. As times change it may be necessary to restate your mission in different terms. That’s why it’s important to regularly reassess and reevaluate your mission. Your assessment should include some of the following questions:
- Does our mission statement clearly align with Holy Scripture?
- Are there other scripture passages we should consider?
- Is there a clearer more relevant way to state our mission?
- Does the congregation understand our mission statement?
- Is our congregation still inspired by our mission statement?
Don’t let mission creep become a defining characteristic of your church. By intentionally implementing the above safeguards, you can maintain a consistent focus on your church’s mission and avoid the destructive effects of mission creep.
Posted on August 15, 2023