Lead Stories

The struggle to remain Mission True

"The struggle to remain Mission True" Continued...

Chris Horst
Bethany House Publishers
Chris Horst
To find these organizations, we began asking experts—educators, philanthropists, ministry leaders, and pastors—“Which organizations have remained Mission True?” Dozens of recommendations came back from many different sectors. And we compiled a list of the most commonly recommended organizations. We interviewed them about their secrets to remaining Mission True. (Details of our research can be found at the back of the book.)

We invested hundreds of hours listening to and learning from these organizations. They were diverse. Some were prominent institutions like Compassion, an organization with over a half-billion-dollar[17] annual budget. Some were lesser known, but just as compelling, like Taylor University, a small college located in the cornfields of Indiana. Taylor has faithfully stayed the course for over one hundred fifty years.

Some deployed nearly identical practices as they did at their founding, including The Crowell Trust, a charitable foundation that acts today nearly exactly as it acted in its earliest days in the 1930s. Others have changed dramatically. Young Life, a national youth ministry, initially reached children through barbershop quartets. Their methods have changed significantly over the years, but they have not lost their heart and founding commitment to share Christ with young people.

Some were overtly evangelistic, like InterVarsity, Cru, and Youth For Christ, an organization that first put Billy Graham on a stage and today still exists to introduce young people to Jesus Christ. Others were just as faithful, but fulfilled a different mandate. National Christian Foundation—now the third largest donor-advised fund in the world—is rooted and sustained by their conviction about the Gospel, but they operate much differently than the aforementioned organizations. We wish we could have featured all our favorite faith-based organizations in this book, but we limited ourselves to prevent it from becoming too lengthy.

Flippant Carefrontations

While in an idyllic camp setting, I (Peter) participated in an event with other followers of Jesus eager to positively impact culture. Our goals were to encourage one another and deepen relationships. On the last evening we shared highlights of our time together. The gathering was replete with memorable conversations.

Near the end of the night, one member stood up and began pointing out the flaws of our group. He critiqued the leaders, bemoaned the structure, and challenged our motivations.

Backs stiffened. Jaws clenched.

He hadn’t earned the right to criticize. He hadn’t been invited to critique. His “carefrontation” came from a position of self-righteousness. And so no one listened. His words created a stir but did not encourage any positive change.

It isn’t our intent to offer unsolicited critique. This book is written to equip Christians “in the trenches” who believe Mission Drift is (or could be) a concern. If you are a donor, board member, or staff member at an organization you fear is adrift, we hope this book will equip you to help your favorite ministry stay true to its mission.

Even uglier than finger-pointing is when someone tries to prove they are “more Christian” than someone else. We do not intend to hold up our organization as an ideal. We all have enough planks in our own eyes to pull out before examining the specks of dust in our friends’ eyes.[18]

A third concern in writing Mission Drift is this: Some may interpret this book as an exposé of organizations that have drifted. That’s not our intent either. This book is not a witch-hunt. You won’t find a “Top 10 Drifting Organizations” list. You won’t find any scathing reveals of organizations in the midst of identity crises. Though we profile organizations throughout, we very intentionally chose organizations that have publicly and widely communicated their own drift. Their leaders have openly acknowledged their shifting
identity.

The boards and presidents at Harvard, Yale, and ChildFund are neither embarrassed nor private about their drift: They affirm and celebrate it. They believe in their new identity.

From our interviews, we know many organizations are currently wrestling with Mission Drift, but we purposefully avoided mentioning them. We hope this will be a resource for anyone eager to protect and reinforce their mission. The stories of drift we share are meant to edify, and in no way humiliate or disparage.

Finally, we’re concerned this book could undermine organizations we celebrate as Mission True. We have failed in writing Mission Drift if we create the impression that these organizations are immune to drift. We have put these organizations and their leaders in greater jeopardy if this book makes them think they have arrived. Remaining Mission True is a constant pursuit. As in the second law of thermodynamics, cooling is inevitable unless leaders regularly infuse heat and energy into fueling and safeguarding their missions.

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