Why do so many Christian organizations become secular within a generation or two? How does one build a focused ministry that doesn't change its core purpose? Peter Greer and Christ Horst provide some excellent answers in Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches. They have examined and analyzed various ministries, some that have stayed focused on their Gospel focused mission, and some that drifted away from that focus have become secular in focus, not spiritual.
The authors make the interesting observation that "It is often Christians who seem most likely to be the biggest critics of bold Christian distinctiveness". They quote the Christian Founder of Quaker Oats speaking of people "who are much interested in the loaves and fishes, but not at all in the faith." They bring up organizations that were Christian at first, but now only help with material needs alone. Greer and Horst also make the case that meeting material needs is not the most important thing, rather, giving out the Gospel is the most important. Helping with people's physical needs does not save them for eternity, it only gives them comfort temporally. Helping with a person's spiritual need of the Gospel helps them have a right focus here on earth whether or not they are comfortable, and has them looking for the Kingdom that will never end.
They warn that Mission Drift is inevitable unless it is actively fought against. "Never underestimate currents and winds - pay attention to them" is one of their warnings. Too many people think that they will be unaffected by physiological changes in society, moral trends and the like, and so don't consider them as threats. But sooner or later, the Christian ministry that is not anchored down with core principles, beliefs and practices will drift along with the stream of popular thought. Many organizations that were Christian at first became functionally secular/atheistic over time.
They also address the fear that if a ministry/organization doesn't compromise its core beliefs at any point, it might collapse. The book has the excellent statement, "…how much better to collapse in allegiance than to survive by compromising what matters most?"
I think that this is an excellent book and would recommend it to any Christian 'organization'.
There are things that I do not agree with, but the only one I find worth mentioning is that the authors seem too ecumenical as they seem to consider Catholicism to be a correct presentation of the Gospel, and an accurate 'version' of Christianity. But I think that it is only implied, not explicitly stated.
Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers for sending me a free review copy of this book(My review did not have to be favorable)!