Interview: Is Your Organization Drifting from Its Core Mission?

Without careful attention, faith-based organizations drift from their founding mission. It’s that simple. It will happen.

This is the warning Peter Greer and Chris Horst give at the beginning of their new book, Mission Drift.

Mission Drift is about what Andy Crouch calls “one of the deepest challenges any leader faces: how to ensure that an organization stays true to its mission, especially when that mission becomes countercultural.”

I interviewed Horst, Vice President of Development at Hope, about the central questions of Mission Drift:

  • What causes Christian organizations to drift from their commitment to Christ?
  • What helps these organizations remain “mission true?”

As members of the leadership team at Hope International (Greer is Hope’s president), Greer and Horst face many of the challenges they speak of in their book. In our interview, Horst candidly shares from his experiences grappling with mission drift at Hope:

Leading a faith-based organization is complicated and it’s difficult. A lot of times we feel and experience pressures that can make you feel crazy…There are pressures to secularize, to professionalize in ways that might detract or take you away from your core mission.

Horst recalls how one donor promised a major gift if Hope would remove the proclamation of the gospel from its mission, and how Hope wrestled with the decision to ultimately turn down the gift.

He also offers insight on why certain groups remain true to their Christ-centered identity and why others drift.

One of the biggest [reasons groups drift] is this drive and desire to be accepted culturally…this idea that you want to be all things to all people, but in a way that you can really please everyone.

Listen to the full interview and you’ll also hear Horst and me discuss:

  • Why it’s so important for Christian organizations to remain gospel-centered.
  • Cultural trends that cause groups to start down the road towards mission drift.
  • The responsibilities of leaders, employees, and donors to keep their organizations “mission true.”
  • Whether or not Christian groups should work in tandem with non-Christian organizations to achieve common goals.

One of the surprising discoveries Horst shared was how Christians at non-Christian organizations are applying the lessons of Mission Drift. The challenge of remaining gospel-centered isn’t just for executives of ministries and other faith-based organizations.

Indeed, what Horst and Greer have to say can be applied on the personal level, too. Individuals in a variety of work situations are applying the warnings and advice of Mission Drift to their vocations and personal missions.

There is something of value in the message of Mission Drift for Christians in any organization. Listen to the full interview below.

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