How to avoid mission atrophy
We've all seen it. A church or an organization starts very strong with a passion to make a difference to penetrate the lostness in their area. The church was compelled by a vision larger than themselves. The leaders were passionate and spoke courageously to the congregation, they made the t-shirts, put out banners, all were encouraged. Then it happened. It didn't happen overnight, it was slow and subtle. The daily routine, was becoming all too familiar, the peoples schedules started to fill up again with the kids activities and other civic duties. The vision that once brought excitement began to bring dread. Even the leaders became too busy taking care of the needs around them that they have neglected the one thing that mattered.
What happened? Mission atrophy. Mission atrophy is the gradual decline in effectiveness with the organization in fulfilling its mission. Every organization is different, and churches are unique. But generally speaking churches have one mission. To go and make disciples. Strong leaders know the importance of keeping the mission in front of its people so that they don't forget it.
5 ways to avoid mission atrophy in your church
1 Communicate the mission often: Never let the mission out of your sight, always work to creative communicate it and do it often.
2. Celebrate the stories that were a direct or indirect result of the mission. Stories remind people that it is still valued and is a measure of success.
3. Keep the mission simple. Don't add new contingencies to the mission in order it to be a success. This is important. Often churches will use the measures of numbers as the sole measuring stick. This often causes the people to say "we didn't have as many as last year, so...it must not have been a success." Numbers are important to some degree but the goal was to make disciples not to have a large attendance. Large attendances don't always mean that disciples are being made or conversion is happening. That mentality creates confusion on what the mission is and then atrophy begins to happen.
4. Set goals in line with the mission: If goals are set that are not in sync with the stated mission and strategy, then either the stated mission or strategy are merely empty words on paper OR the goal is useless. By setting goals that are in line with the mission, new energy is created for the mission and strategy.
5. Measure and evaluate in light of the mission and strategy: What is evaluated and measured reveals what is really important. For the most important not to get buried by all the activity, evaluate through the lens of the mission and strategy,
The threat of atrophy is real in any ministry or organization. It takes great focus and intentionality to overcome it.