Dear Salvation Army, Correcting Mission Drift

Without careful attention, faith-based organizations will inevitably drift from their founding mission.
― Peter Greer, Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches

In a previous pondering:  “Dear Salvation Army, Is this mission drift“, we explored the topic of mission drift and the question – “are we as an Organization/Movement experiencing mission drift right now?”  I received numerous comments via social media as well as this blog’s comment section.  There were many who felt that there is a current drift or a very present danger of drift taking place.  We as an Army and a movement are at a crossroads…this crossroads will determine if our mission and vision for this global army remains intact as our founders intended it to be or if we will realign, readjust or even throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater and start in a whole new direction of mission and purpose.

It should be duly noted that not all mission drift is bad, sometimes the drift occurs out of necessity for change.  Organizations have rebranded themselves or sought out strategic planners to help them shift or reinvent themselves to better suit the needs of the consumer or market.

But what happens when mission drift takes us into waters that we, as an Army should never have gone?  Are there places like that?  What are those places?

doWilliam Booth worked with lawmakers of his day to change policies and laws in order to help the common person, but have we at times dabbled too far into politics and government?  Have we assumed leadership roles within communities that have compromised or limited our ability to be Christ’s ambassadors?

Have we shifted this holistic ministry approach and only provided the soup and soap while leaving salvation in our corps chapels?  Where has mission drift occurred?

I am sure you know the differences between managers and leaders, but let me refresh your memories:  Here are 9 differences between managers and leaders found in the Forbes article: 9 Differences Between Being A Leader And A Manager by William Arruda.  (I recommend you reading it yourself)
1. Leaders create a vision, managers create goals.
2. Leaders are change agents, managers maintain the status quo.
3. Leaders are unique, managers copy.
4. Leaders take risks, managers control risk .
5. Leaders are in it for the long haul, managers think short-term.
6. Leaders grow personally, managers rely on existing, proven skills.
7. Leaders build relationships, managers build systems and processes.
8. Leaders coach, managers direct.
9. Leaders create fans, managers have employees.

If any of those “manager” qualities resonate with you or you see evidence of management in the army you aren’t alone.  We cannot be maintainers of the status quo nor can we afford to insulate, direct people and think in the short term because appointments aren’t forever…unfortunately I believe some of our mission drift stems from this misconception and lack of vision for the future.

2 Prescriptions for Correcting Mission Drift:
Let me first say that although we are a top down Army (in terms of our leadership model), that does not mean that a lowly lieutenant, captain or major (or even a soldier)  are powerless and unable to change this environment of mission drift.  We all can do our part to course correct when drift is leading us mercilessly away from Holiness, helping the marginalized and poor.  Substandard mission drift must be addressed in order to stave off organizational death.  So how do we course correct?  How to we change the flow of direction in order to get back to the basics of our true Salvation Army purpose?

Account1.  Live our Mission, our Vision and our values!  
We cannot change the world if we are not willing to allow the Holy Spirit to first change our lives.  We cannot preach this gospel of hope and grace unless we first live it…so too our Mission as an Army has to be practiced in every facet of our lives.  We cannot expect this drift to be course-corrected if we aren’t willing to live Holiness in our lives.  The best sermon ever preached wasn’t from the pulpit, it’s from living it out-loud in our lifestyle.  If we want this mission of the Army to remain strong and true, we have to embrace, live and be the mission of the Army!  Most importantly – We must have a consistency of faith in Christ, from this, all other things will fall into place.  We cannot recognize mission drift when it occurs if we aren’t first fully invested in the current mission of this Army.

2.  Teach our Mission, our vision and our values! 

passing the baton
The second prescription sounds a lot like discipleship…that’s because it truly is!  I firmly believe that if we are to live out the core foundations of the Army, we will find that at our base is Christ…He is (or should be) our Cornerstone!  Without Christ this Army of Salvation would only be a social organization dedicated to doing good things.  We must never become this especially if Christ is at our center.  If we live it, then it only becomes natural to teach it and share it with others.  Discipleship is more than book work and chapters to finish in a class room; it is living side by side other believers and helping each other along in this journey.

Do we know what The Salvation Army mission and vision statements are?
Can we clearly articulate these to others?
How does this translate into living?
What obstacles prevent us currently from living missionally?
Are there tools that we need in order to help other people understand our mission as an Army?

Let me conclude this second entry on the topic of ‘mission drift’ but reiterating the point that everyone within this army has a role to play in course-correcting mission drift!  This is not just the General’s job…or the Commissioner’s job, or the Divisional Commander’s job…this is the life blood of a forward moving Army!  So what are you waiting for?  Get on with it!  Do not allow mission drift to become the vice of Satan that breaks us apart!

Something more for our Salvation Army world to ponder.  God Bless you!

*Disclaimer:  the thoughts and opinions express here are the thoughts and opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Salvation Army. Reader discretion is advised.*


8 thoughts on “Dear Salvation Army, Correcting Mission Drift

Add yours

  1. I think I need to read that Forbes article – I may be guilty of just managing up to this point in my officership. Thanks Scott!

  2. For all your readers, managers are not necessarily bad for the organization…in fact, they are necessary. But as you correctly point out, there is a distinction between managing and leading. Honestly recognizing the difference in your personal style is helpful and liberating. We need both….and I know you knew that.

  3. The Solution … Encourage, enable and enthuse EVERY Soldier, Officer, Commander … and certainly every Officer in Training to understand, to want, and to EXPECT to be Baprised in the Holy Spirit … and to suddenly find themselves EMPOWERED like the followers of Jesus at Pentecost. I be lol ievevwe have forgotten that Pentecost is FOR US , and that is why the SA is drifting and failing in too many ways in too many places … unlike the Pentrcostal Churches that are obediently following the Scriptural imperatives that we are ignoring … to our cost … AND to the cost of His Kingdom and the unsaved masses.
    Just once, every SA Member should go to a Pentecostal local Church, experience the differences … and ask How can we get this ? In Jesus’ Name

  4. Leadership is a “deep and wide” topic. Sometimes it’s hard for someone to be a leader when the perception is that the “followers” are required to do what this person says.

    Particularly I like your comments that leadership can happen from anywhere within our organization, even soldiers

    I really appreciate the definition of leadership in the Joseph Rost book, Leadership for the 21st-century, “Leadership is an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes.” He goes on to say, “In a post industrial frame, leaders are not equated with managers, so followers are not equated with subordinates. That does not mean that leaders and followers are equal.” And he goes on to describe the relationship between leaders and followers. It is one of the most enlightened treatises on leadership I read and my degree work.

    It seems safe to say that leaders will not only allow but encourage others to lead in their particular area of responsibility. Managers are less willing to let those “under them” do leadership.
    One final comment, from my perception leadership is a verb not a noun. It has to do with what somebody does, not their position or title.

  5. If William Booth were among us today, it would be more than interesting how he’d respond to the Army “doing the mission”. As mentioned in your article and by other posters, there is often “necessity for change”. As a worldwide movement, the Army’s mission may not “look” the same on the other side of the globe. But I’ll add my two cents on behalf of international leadership who approach change as sometimes positive; but measured and guided by the essence and spirit of the stated mission, ” . . motivated by the love of God”. Witness widely known companies that fold, predictably after efforts to “reinvent” themselves. But the fittest go the distance owing to integrity of their brand; keeping the main thing the main thing (at the risk of invoking an over-worked axiom).

  6. Excellent website. Lots of helpful info here. I’m sending it to a few pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And naturally, thank you on your sweat!

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