Following up on how to go about choosing people for our organizations/communities, Sweet takes the next chapter down a very appropriate passage: understanding our mission.
You can have the greatest people, but without direction, without a common mission, nothing comes of it. Yeah, maybe there are good feelings, but nothing substantial.
In the past, the mission of organizations was often “growth.” And Sweet suggests that mission isn’t about “growth” as we have come to understand it.
Growth used to be this ideal that was touted by leaders and CEO’s. (Believe it or not, it still is touted in the church.) But Sweet points out that “growth-oriented companies are now treated with more than a measure of suspicion; a growth obsession is now seen as a liability, not an asset” (104). Often the mission becomes more about getting bigger than actually providing the world with a better way of life.
Mission “has to be bigger than ourselves—certainly bigger than ‘growth’” (104).
This fits with a certain discomfort I have had with the “church-growth” movement…
Some of my favorite thoughts of Sweet’s on mission:
“We can’t control missions. Circumstances will change. Plans will fail. Instead of planning our missions, we must compose them without plans. We must schedule in the serendipity and improvisation.” (105)
“Mission needs to be related in narrative form. Narrative flair and rhetorical prowess go a long way in persuading people to join the mission.” (107)
Rob Bell had a sermon recently (part of his directions 2 series still available for download) where, for the first 20 minutes of his sermon, he told stories of people in their community reaching out to others. Rob did an excellent job of laying out the mission of their church through a narrative form.
“Great leaders also invite participation…None of us is as smart as all of us. The mission depends on everyone.” (107)
I'm not big on plans that say that there are people who are dispensable. The only people who are dispensable are the people who are against the mission, who somehow find ways to undermine the goodness of what is happening. But even then, our mission should include how to reincorporate those people when they want to return...
He points out that there has a been a false dichotomy between work and spirituality. Instead we should work at our jobs with a “mission”. Not totally sure how to work that one out.
He never points out what the mission is. He just says that we all have it. I like how he left it openended.