Mission Focused or Mission Distracted?

3 Minute Read

By Don Immel


I love stories. My dad was a great story-teller. It’s one of the things I miss most about him. But when dad told stories about his days in the Navy – I was hooked. It’s probably one of the reasons I enjoyed the book “Extreme Ownership.” The stories of “How Navy Seals Lead and Win” simply captivate me (it is pretty earthy however, coming from a soldier’s point of view). But I also love the leadership principles that can be gleaned from a military model. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin communicate that in a Navy Seal Team framework for leading, leaders have to understand, embrace, communicate, train and take a fanatical level of commitment to the mission of the team. Leadership and mission are inseparable.

In John’s gospel, Jesus demonstrates extreme ownership of God’s mission in the world as He faces his death by crucifixion. Jesus asks this rhetorical question, “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’” (John 12:27) UNTHINKABLE! Jesus answers His own question: “But for this purpose I came into the world.”

The church was created to participate in the mission of God (or Missio Dei). Every believer has a role and function in the mission. God equips us through training accomplished via the five-fold ministry gifts. Although apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers participate in the functions associated with their titles, these leaders are also (and perhaps primarily) assigned to the task of “equipping the saints” for their role in the ministry, or the mission of God. If the participants in the leadership of the five-fold ministry gifts somehow get off track with the mission, they will duplicate that diversion in others.

In the movie “Saving Private Ryan,” Tom Hanks leads a squad on a mission to pull Private Benjamin Ryan out of battle and send him home. That was the mission. The movie is not only about the harrowing bravery demonstrated by this squad, but the storyline inadvertently demonstrates what happens when the mission becomes distracted, debated and even defied. Again, the movie is earthy, but it demonstrates the necessity for staying on mission.

I read an article recently where the author expressed concern regarding compassion ministries. The author was not standing opposed to compassion; he was simply stating that if feeding programs become our mission rather than bringing people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, then the expressions of compassion will have been a hindrance to the mission of God rather than a means for seeing it to fulfillment. So it is with all church activities. If they complement the mission (measured in success by people coming to Christ or growing into substantial followers), then they are helpful. But when activities or values compete with rather than compliment the mission of God, then they need to be adjusted or eliminated.

How do we evaluate our ministry expressions? Do we take the time to evaluate if the things we do as a believer and church community are fulfilling the Missio Dei? We spend time, energy and financial resources that are given to us by God. Are we stewarding these blessings in a way that God will one day say “well done?” Or, are we moving out of habit or pressure to continue nurturing fruitless ministries in the name of tradition or try to avoid rocking the church boat?

CHALLENGE: let’s evaluate our calendar and (ministry) checkbook. Are the ministries in which we are engaged producing the “much fruit that will last” referred to by Jesus in John 15? Are we mission focused, or mission distracted?

At our fall THRIVE conference, mission focus will be our focus. We have a wonderful “squad” of communicators who will both challenge and inspire us to fulfill God’s mission in our ministry, in our church and in our world. We hope to see your team in October!

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