7 Top Issues Church Planters Face #5: Mission Drift

Casting Vision and Avoiding Mission Drift

Church plants often lose sight of their direction, vision and resulted in mission drift in several different ways. Planters may struggle with pressure from “churched” people to stray away from the mission; discerning between “good ideas” and mission critical ideas; making decisions consistent with mission; defining priorities for growth; and balancing evangelism and discipleship.

Five Key Considerations to Avoid Mission Drift

1. Clarity
The concept of “drift” implies leaving a clearly defined and understood standard. Planters mistakenly assume their expectations for the rest of the team and body are as clear and compelling in their minds that they are in the planter’s mind.

2. Core Values
Most planters have a strong sense of mission and vision that drives them. They often have less clarity about their core values that shape what they do and how they do it. High definition leadership is “constantly bringing the most important things to light” (W. Mancini. 2008, p. 52).

3. Mission, Vision, and Values
During the gathering phase, it is vital to establishing core values that create a strong foundation. Planters may confuse or interchange what most people refer to as the concepts of vision (dream of preferred future state), mission (corresponding activity) and values (nonnegotiable principles). The result is a lack of personal clarity from the planter and it results in mission drift.

4. Ministry Philosophy
Mission, vision, values and the leadership culture form the foundational elements of a plant’s philosophy of ministry. Ideally, a planter’s ministry philosophy is clearly defined before starting. However, for many planters, it is a work in progress.

5. Non-Negotiables
Most planters do not have the capacity, financial resources or personnel needed to develop a comprehensive strategy. Instead, they rightly narrow their focus to three to five priorities they will focus on in the early days of the church (i.e., weekend services, small groups, leadership development). The limited number of priorities becomes the filter for saying “yes and no” to ministry initiatives and is vital for avoiding drift.

Conclusion (by Acts 29)

Listen to Vision and Mission for a Church Planter by Matt Chandler.
Read Church Unique by Will Mancini Will Mancini, Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture, and Create Movement, (Jossey-Bass, 2008).
Listen to Influence through Vision and Mission by Jeff Vanderstelt.
Listen to J.D. Greear on Leadership and the Great Commission.

Want to learn more about casting vision and mission and church planting? Consider attending one of our upcoming boot camps.

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Abbreviated from a Report Prepared by Exponential and Ed Stetzer.

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