Jesus gave us a  clear “Mission” in Matthew 28:18-20 and promised His power and presence to accomplish it. It’s easy to drift away from that mission. Chuck Lawless shares 9 reasons why churches drift from their mission.

Originally  posted by Chuck Lawless

Last year, I wrote a post entitled, “10 Signs of Mission Drift in a Church.” What I learned in response was that readers appreciated the signs, but they wanted to know (1) why churches experience mission drift and (2) what they might do to redirect the course. Today’s post addresses the first question.

  1. Nobody’s even talking about the possibility of mission drift—almost as if “it surely won’t happen here.” Ignoring, or even denying, the possibility of mission drift is almost a sure way to experience it. On the other hand, the most mission-focused churches I know are continually evaluating their commitment to the mission. 
  2. IF the church has a mission statement, it’s only a sentence on the website. It’s not a compelling reason for the church to exist. In fact, leaders and members who themselves can’t state the church’s mission are evidences of drift. 
  3. The church ministries have been, and continue to be, siloed from each other. Every ministry exists on its own, and the ministry leaders have little sense of a “team effort” to accomplish the church’s mission. 
  4. Pastoral leaders have lost any sense of vision for the church. In some cases, they are simply in maintenance mode—hardly a mission-driven position. In others, internal church conflict has robbed them of their joy and hope. 
  5. Members have expected their pastoral leaders to take care of them primarily rather than reach outsiders. While caring for the sheep is imperative, such a focus turns a congregation away from the Great Commission. 
  6. Recent—and, sometimes, not so recent—conflict has left scars in the congregation. When a church still bears the wounds of division, they tend to retreat to a posture of defensiveness and protection. 
  7. Leaders hesitate to make hard calls to keep the mission primary. At times, those hard calls require asking influencers to step down or suggesting that ineffective ministries be discontinued. Avoiding those hard calls only contributes to a loss of focus on the mission.
  8. The church has been large enough that the drift is so slow it’s almost imperceptible. That’s the problem, actually. When you don’t recognize you’re drifting as an organization until after you’ve drifted far, it’s late in the game to make a correction. 
  9. The church’s leadership recruitment process is weak. That is, they often unintentionally get the wrong people on the bus (Jim Collins’ Good to Great terminology). Ill-equipped, power-hungry, and/or uncommitted leaders won’t unite the church around a common mission.   

What would you add to this list?