Back in 1992, the US responded to the worsening famine in Somalia by sending in troops to help deliver food and humanitarian supplies to those who needed it. Simple, clear cut. A year and a half later, 18 US soldiers were killed in the Battle of Mogadishu (more popularly known as Black Hawk Down). The term given to describe such a massive drift in mission was “mission creep.” Mission creep is the tendency for a task to become wider in scope than its original objectives. The US suffered mission creep in Somalia, and 18 soldiers lost their lives.
I believe we’ve suffered mission creep as the church. If you go all the way back to the beginning, Jesus’ command to his disciples was simple and clear cut: make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). For awhile, the church did just that. But then mission creep set in.
The church got distracted with power and influence. We built beautiful buildings and cathedrals to worship in a more aesthetically pleasing space. We wanted to educate ourselves with the Bible so we built schools and universities. We couldn’t get along with each other so we created different denominations. We augmented the local church with para-church organization after para-church organization. We now have layers and layers of organizational structure. On the outside, we look very impressive.
But we’ve suffered mission creep. We’re not making disciples. The decline of evangelical churches has been well documented. Even Southern Baptist churches are not immune to mission creep. The result is a slow yet steady decline among the Southern Baptist Convention. We’ve suffered massive mission creep and are paying the consequences for it.
This past Sunday at Mt Vernon Church, I started a series called “Mission Creep,” where we look at some of the root causes of mission creep and how we can combat mission creep in our lives. If you’re not local to Columbus, you can listen to the podcast here. I’ll be sharing some thoughts from the series in posts to come.
QUESTION: How have you seen mission creep in the church today?