Mission-fit -- mission briefing

Ideas Shaping World Missions Today

Is what you are doing fully aligned with your core cause?

Two or three decades ago, "to make Christlike disciples in the nations"1 became the officially stated mission of the Church of the Nazarene. Of course, while that exact wording may be somewhat recent, what it says is not. Global outreach has been in Nazarene DNA from the very beginning.

Our mission statement announces that we are going beyond counting "decisions." Our stated core value of being a "holiness people" evokes the Christlikeness theme of the mission statement. In addition, we Nazarenes have never been isolationists. From the start, we have been involved in disciple-making around the world as well as in our own neighborhoods.

That mission of making Christlike disciples in the nations is not something just for global missionaries sent out by the World Mission office. Money, manpower, and plan-making at every level of the denomination should "fit" or be synchronized with both phrases of that mission statement. There must be coherency between what we do and what we say our mission is. Our actions must contribute to the end result we have in mind. Thus, every Nazarene should be involved in some way with both phrases:

On the local, district, regional, and global levels, we must allow the mission statement to shape what we do, when we do it, and how we do it. We must be prayerfully asking: Does this activity or emphasis or decision fit who we are? Are the core values and vision of people in my church congregation in alignment with our mission statement? Is what we are doing and how we do it consistent with the objective of making Christlike disciples in the nations? Can we say that we don't just do things because we can or simply because an opportunity presents itself? Do we, as a church, do things because they have meaning for us regarding our stated mission?

Organizations, businesses, and churches used to say there was "good chemistry" when people, programs, and resources came together to accomplish the group's stated goals. In recent years, organizational leaders have moved past the touchy-feely chemistry reference to using "mission fit" to express alignment with a group's ultimate goal. This includes making sure that positions in the church are filled by people who "fit" the needed qualifications and skills and whose core values and vision are aligned with that of the church.

If we are to carry out our church's mission, the following items need to be "mission-fit" for us:

If some of these things fail "mission-fit" inspection, we may have settled for things that are inconsistent and perhaps even incompatible with our denomination's stated mission. We need to ask:

  1. Is our vision-casting, strategizing, and planning shaped by our stated mission of making Christlike disciples in the nations?
  2. Do we openly encourage new believers to "buy in" to the mission statement?
  3. Do we ask "mission-fit" questions of the men and women applying to be ordained as Nazarene ministers?

There are lots of words that ought to characterize what we do to carry out our God-given mission. Words that come quickly to mind include God-centered, transformative, sustainable, culturally appropriate, transparent, reproducible, and empowering. Wouldn't the "icing on the cake," though, be having "mission-fit" stamped on everything from how our church spends money to the activities we seem to be the most passionate about?

1Note: In the Bible, the word "nations" does not mean political entities like China, India, and the USA. Rather, it means people groups or societies in which people speak the same language, have the same culture, and live in or have originated in the same area. "Nations" is synonymous with the plural word "peoples." In other words, nations in the Bible means all of the people groups of the world other than the people of Israel.

Discussion questions

  1. What does "mission-fit" mean and why is it important in fulfilling the mission of making Christlike disciples in the nations?
  2. How can individuals and organizations ensure that their programs, people, and resources align with their stated mission of making Christlike disciples in the nations?
  3. Why should every Christian be involved in some way with both phrases of the statement, "Making Christlike disciples" and "In the nations"?
  4. How can churches and organizations ensure that their leaders, policies, and procedures are in "mission-fit" alignment with their stated mission?
  5. What are some challenges that may arise in ensuring alignment with a stated mission?


Something is considered "mission-fit" when it aligns closely with the objectives, values, and goals of a particular mission or organization. It embodies qualities or characteristics that directly contribute to the fulfillment of that mission or the advancement of its objectives. This alignment can encompass various aspects, including skill sets, values, attitudes, and approaches. For an individual, being mission fit means possessing the skills, mindset, and dedication necessary to excel in a given role within the organization. For a project or initiative, being mission-fit implies that it serves the purpose and goals of the mission, driving progress and success. Ultimately, mission-fit ensures that whatever it may be -- whether a person, project, or strategy -- integrated into the mission seamlessly and effectively contributes to its overall success.

To achieve the mission of making Christlike disciples in the nations, we must check the"mission-fit" alignment of everything we do. Programs, people, and resources must contribute toward the goal of disciple-making. Every Christian must be engaged in some way with making Christlike disciples locally as well as globally. Challenges will arise as we work toward cultural relevance and sustainability. However, insisting that our endeavors be "mission-fit" for us will improve the chances of their being impactful, transformative, and God-pleasing.

    -- Howard Culbertson,

This mini-essay on a key issue in world missions outreach is one of 12 articles in the "Mission briefing" series published in Engage magazine. Articles in that series dealt with issues such as unreached people groups, contextualization, indigenous churches, dependency, sustainability, leadership development, go-ers/senders, culture shock, and globalization.

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