This is from the June Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Missio Nexus. These are the best book summaries on the web. Leader’s Edge monthly book summaries and insightful interviews connect you with today’s leading writers in the Great Commission community. You can visit their website here. Access for individuals starts at under $30. The services include:

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Accessing their services just for the book summaries is well worth the cost. Below is a sample from the June edition of Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Greer and Horst’s Mission Drift. Each book summary includes the content of the book by category of:

  • Best chapter
  • Best quotes
  • Best illustration
  • Best idea
  • Best take away
  • Recommendation


Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches

Author: Peter Greer and Chris Horst

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers, 2014, 224 pages. ISBN: 978-0764211010

Also available in Kindle format ( B00DWA69A0).


Without intentional attention, faith-based organizations drift from their founding mission. Slowly, silently, and with little fanfare, organizations routinely drift from their purpose, and many never return to their original intent. The authors site Harvard and the YMCA as among those that no longer embrace the Christian principles on which they were founded. But they didn’t drift off course overnight. Drift often happens in small and subtle ways. Left unchecked, they eventually become significant.

 Best chapter

Chapter 4 – Death by Minnows

“In our research, we found there is a point of no return. A point when the flame of Christian distinctiveness loses all visibility. Despite their founding identity, they no longer have any concern about their Christian mission or any desire to create safeguards to protect it.” Kindle location 741

“… Mission True organizations … do not apologize for their Christian identity. They see their shared faith as an asset to their mission. It is what makes their organizations distinct in their industry and becomes the characteristic they celebrate more than any other. The Gospel is not cursory within Mission True organizations. It is more than just a motivation. It is central. Everything else hinges around it.” Kindle location 773

“Expansion, professionalization, and corporatization don’t always dampen an organization’s mission vibrancy, but they often do.” Kindle location 781

“But let there be no illusion: Just because leaders make decisions to return an organization to its founding principles does not mean they will be immune from pain. Mission True organizations often encounter pain because of their clarity about their mission.” Kindle location 808

Best quotes

“Drift unfolds slowly. Like a current, it carries organizations away from their core purpose and identity.”Kindle location 246

“In its simplest form, Mission True organizations know why they exist and protect their core at all costs. They remain faithful to what they believe God has entrusted them to do. They define what is immutable: their values and purposes, their DNA, their heart and soul.” Kindle location 390

“This doesn’t mean Mission True organizations don’t change. And it doesn’t mean they aren’t striving for excellence. In fact, their understanding of their core identity will demand they change. And their understanding of Scripture will demand they strive for the very highest levels of excellence. But growth and professionalism are subordinate values. To remain Mission True is to adapt and grow, so long as that adaptation and growth does not alter the core identity.”Kindle location 390

“Mission True organizations decide that their identity matters and then become fanatically focused on remaining faithful to this core. The key to Mission True organizations isn’t a charismatic leader. If it was, they’d have Mission Drift within the second generation if the inevitable leadership transition wasn’t flawless. Compassion and the other organizations we profile in this book do not possess a mysterious set of practices and principles only applicable to them. Rather, their practices are transferable to any organization, denomination, or ministry. These are what we identified as Mission True qualities.” Kindle location 437

“In writing this book, we changed our hypothesis. Initially, we saw Mission Drift as an organizational issue. But as organizations are made up of individuals foiled by pride and sin and allured by success, we concluded that this unspoken crisis isn’t an organizational problem. It’s a human one. We found Mission Drift wouldn’t be a problem if humans weren’t involved. But alas all organizations—every last one of them—have humans at the helm.” Kindle location 451

“Mission True organizations distinguish between guarding the mission and guarding the means. Knowing who you are is the first line of defense against drift; it allows you to determine if change and adjustments are equipping you to better accomplish your mission or slowly moving you away from your foundation.” Kindle location 1095

“Board members create the tenor and protect the mission from the many threats opposing it. But when boards are unwilling to fulfill their roles, the mission will drift. Preventing collapses like the one at Central Asia Institute starts and stops with the board members.” Kindle location 1263

“To prevent Mission Drift, organizations require as much process, rigor, and intentionality in recruiting board members as they do in recruiting key executives. Yet often the process lacks consistency or even a clear method.” Kindle location 1305

A leader not deeply grounded in prayer and spiritual disciplines is a leader susceptible to Mission Drift.” Kindle location 1398

“It’s an attitude, not an external factor. Pride leads us to adopt the wrong definition of success. When we begin to see our priority as a growing ministry, instead of a faithful one, we sow the seeds of drift.” Kindle location 1420

“Mission True organizations are obsessed with issues of the heart. They believe everything we do is downstream from who we are. Without attention to our personal faith, we are without an anchor and left to drift. Through words, actions, and behaviors, leaders either undermine or reinforce the mission.” Kindle location 1458

“Too often, the passions of the first generation become the preferences of the second generation and are irrelevant to the third generation.” Kindle location 1546

“Remaining Mission True certainly doesn’t guarantee explosive growth in fundraising numbers. It does illustrate through real-life, concrete examples, however, that while conviction about your Christian commitment may drive some corporate and government funders away, Christian donors will rally when you are clear and bold about your faith.” Kindle location 1796

“’What gets measured gets done’ is a well-worn business mantra. And for good reason—it’s true. But on the flip side, measuring the wrong things can just as easily lead an organization off mission.” Kindle location 1967

“Mission True organizations realize Christian distinctiveness involves more than boards, hiring, culture, and staff. It demands distinctiveness in the quality and effectiveness of their programs and operations. The Gospel must saturate the actual work we do. It must alter and shape both what we do and how we do it.” Kindle location 2148

“Culture cannot be fully contained in an employee manual—but that is not to say that policies do not matter. Mission True organizations understand that policies reflect culture and underlying organizational values.” Kindle location 2396

“Mission True culture doesn’t just happen. Thoughtful leaders intentionally craft the culture of their organizations and know it is too important to delegate. They create, reinforce, and celebrate the traditions and practices undergirding the culture. Ignoring the little things will mean drastic consequences in the long run, because a culture without purpose and intentionality will leave no defense against drift.” Kindle location 2416

“Mission True organizations recognize that the local church is the anchor to a thriving mission… For organizations who desire to protect against Mission Drift, one of the most powerful anchors is the local church.” Kindle location 2584

“The church grounds all good works in the grander vision of humanity’s fall and God’s redemption. It’s not easy, but for most organizations desiring to stay Mission True, the question with local church partnerships should be ‘How do we partner?’ not‘Should we partner?’ Kindle location 2718

Best illustration

“In physics, a theory for drift exists. The second law of thermodynamics states that in the natural order of the universe, things degenerate, rather than come together. For example, when a frying pan is taken off the stove, heat diffuses in the air, leaving the pan cooler. Unless heat is added—someone puts the frying pan back on the stove—it will cool and settle back to room temperature. What we see in science (and the kitchen) we found to be the norm within organizations. Here’s the reality: Mission Drift is the natural course for organizations, and it takes focused attention to safeguard against it. Once an organization ignores its source of heat, drift is only a matter of time.” Kindle location 282

 Best idea

“Mission True organizations ask different questions. Leaders often first ask what, then move to how, and finally transition to why. That’s a natural progression. But great innovators, according to Simon Sinek, a globally renowned consultant and author, start with why. This leads to how and, finally, what. The ordering really matters.” Kindle location 1074


We highly recommend this book to every organization affiliated with Missio Nexus. Use the book for a focused leadership team discussion on Mission Drift. Using the review questions (found in the back of the book) for each chapter, evaluate where you organization may be in regard to mission drift.

Visit Missio Nexus to learn more about their Leader’s Edge Book Summaries and their other resources.

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