How do you measure mission?
Key questions, how do you know what to do, how to get there, when you have gotten there. But there are fundamental problems with approaching mission objectives in this way…however there are also important aspects we need to take on board. Aim for nothing, you hit nothing. Put another way, some sense of direction is important to enable us to be able to choose what we will do, and what we won’t do so that we can keep focus and avoid mission drift.
Secondly, there are those who support us both spiritually and financially. They too will need to be communicated to so that they might continue to perform that duty. Let me suggest a few thoughts…
1) we need direction to go in, that’s clear
2) Paul talks about it being his ambition. It’s a direction, not a target. Ambition is a context which has a more defined edge….but….
3) if we set targets that have to be hit, then we have defined the target. If we can define the target then we are not trusting God completely, since he is able to do far more than we can ask, or imagine
4) if we are able to imagine it, then we are not operating by faith, and faith is the heart of mission.
5) so how do we measure? Implicitly, when we set a metric, a measurement target, we sense failure if we do not hit that target. Therefore a target is future orientated, and always looks forwards. We forget how far we have come. Yet scripture relies on looking backwards to have faith for the future…Thus far the Lord has brought us. And the number of psalms and Old Testament passages which refer to the exodus from Egypt as proof that God will continue to care in the future. So at any moment we wish to ‘measure’ rather than checking our goals, and seeing how much further we have to go, it may be better to look how far we have come, give thanks for Gods faithfulness, and then keep moving forward in the ambition as God gives us the next stage of each vision.
6) the heart, then, isn’t in the mechanism of measuring…but rather that of reporting. How do we communicate how far we have come? That can be done in terms of story. The hardest thing to report is how faith is developing, but if we think about how we tell the story of fruit being born out of the work we are doing, it gets easier. Some people prefer metrics…data…so we can do that as well. (I’ll be developing that mechanism soon). We also need to see what things work and what haven’t, but not dismiss the what haven’ts too soon. Some plants take longer than others to grow. Through reflection I see that i work best starting something small and repeatable. To then iterate it if it shows promise and scale quite messily. Then once it gets to a size, to eliminate those things which are not being as efficient (only a small amount of action produces the most results) and then to automate as far as possible. Then either diversify, or start something new.
7) the knock of of this is in the day to day. I find it useful to have a set of cards which summarise my vision, my ambition, which I have prayed about. These help me to decide not what I WILL do, but when opportunity arises, to be confident to say, no. That is for someone else. I am not the only worker in the Kingdom. Secondly, I see what I need to do today to fulfil the vision descriptions. These are more what you would call targets, but they are all short term targets…that is today or this week targets that I pray into, using my imagination. I don’t have anything beyond that. If as I pray I get an idea or picture, or if during that day I suddenly see the next stage,I will write that down. Then after a few days come back to it and see if it is still relevant. If so, that updates one of the vision cards, or I write a new one. Why is this important?
8) …Proverbs 16:9 , “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” God, I believe, through faith and prayer, and by us allowing our will to be wrapped in His, will give us the dreams, plans and ambitions that he has already planned for us to do. ‘I have plans to prosper you, and not to harm you…the good works that he has planned in advance for us to do’. When we seek God, he lays these on our hearts and so our hearts desire and Gods will and plans are in alignment. If we define too much our path, then we risk going away from Gods plans. We should also do what Jesus did and keep our eyes open for what God is doing. He said he only did what he saw his Father in heaven doing. If we have the Holy Spirit,then surely we are able to do the same thing? In fact Romans 12 says (by implication) that when we make our lives a living sacrifice then we can test and approve (discern) what Gods will is…his good, perfect and pleasing will. When we are in Christ Jesus, then not only will we know Gods will, but we will also have the courage to test without fear what his will is. This is how we can do what we see the Father doing.