10 Common Ways Churches Get Off Mission

Some common ways churches engage in “mission drift.”


They are still stuck in the past, culturally speaking. Some churches look frozen in time. While there are lots of rich things from our history and tradition worth holding onto, having a church that looks like it stepped out of a time machine in the 1970s probably isn’t it. Some churches are so committed to preserving how they’ve always been, they cannot adequately contextualize the gospel for their communities today.


The Lord has called his people to be on gospel mission for the sake of his glory. Most church folk will readily acknowledge this, and yet many churches have drifted away — often subtly — from thinking of themselves as missionaries in their respective communities and beyond. Here are some common ways churches engage in “mission drift.”

  1. They over-program.
    In this way, we mistake activity for mission and busy-ness for fruitfulness. And while Christians fellowshiping and “doing life” with each other is important, some churches fill the calendar with so many programs and meetings, etc. that their people have little to no margin to be on mission.
  2. They pour all their energy into the weekend service.
    For many churches, the extent of their weekly thinking, planning, strategy, creativity, etc. is channeled into the production of the weekend gathering. They justify this inward focus by trying to design this service as evangelistically and seeker-minded as possible, but it effectively turns the “go and tell” of mission into the “come and see” of attraction.
  3. They use too much insider lingo.
    The church service in particular is biblically for the Christian, but the New Testament still tells us it ought to be intelligible to “outsiders.” Some churches communicate only “inside baseball” in their services and groups so that it becomes difficult for interested unbelievers to follow and seek to understand.
  4. They are just plain unwelcoming.
    We all know about churches that don’t acknowledge visitors. There are also community groups that don’t have an open door for curious unbelievers and other visitors. There are people who look down their noses if someone is in their parking space or pew. Some church communities just aren’t interested in growing or reaching out.

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