Scope Creep

Scope Creep

Thinking back to this past weekend’s message, one example that I gave during the message was the idea of “Scope Creep”. In my time working in the IT industry, we would often see what was known as “Scope Creep”. It’s an interesting phenomenon. It’s when a product owner requests a new feature to be added to a web page, or a computer program, etc. Maybe it’s a small change — perhaps it would only take a few days to make, or perhaps even a few hours.

The requirements for the change, or the new program would be given to the developer, who would begin work on it. The developer would either be working away, or perhaps he/she would even make the change and submit it for testing. In the process, there were inevitably new ideas brought to mind about what could make it BETTER, or that would improve on the original idea. And it would go back to the developer to make the change.

Or perhaps it never even gets THAT far. Maybe the program is supposed to take a few weeks to develop, and as the developer begins the creation process, the user, project manager, and all involved decide to come up with more things to add into it — things that were never in the original project plan. And as those things get added to the project, it adds complexity, ultimately resulting in an inferior product, with features, and bugs that were never meant to be included in it. And ultimately, these things distract from the original purpose of the project.

As more and more things begin to get added, that project that might have taken a few hours, or a few weeks, gets pushed back to days, months, or even years. This is a problem that plagues so many software development teams.

It’s also a problem that plagues the church. Far too often, we’ve allowed the scope of our mission to creep. We forget the Great Commission that Jesus told us: to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to believe all that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). We begin to add to the mission all sorts of things that have nothing to do with that. And we begin to argue over those things — debating which one is more important. And those things begin to take priority over the original mandate to go and preach the Gospel.

Taken too far, we argue, and fight, and complain. Or perhaps we blissfully ignore the Great Commission and instead fuss over things that do not matter.

May we, as Christians, be united in a goal to seek to glorify God in all we do — by proclaiming that Jesus saves all that trust in him. May this take priority over everything else.