What is the “scoreboard” for success in missions?
“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It is not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What is important is that God makes the seed grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6-7
Here in the United States, we like to keep score to measure success. In football, the team with the bigger score wins. The same is true in basketball, baseball, and bowling. In golf, swimming and running the lowest score or time that wins. In school, it is the highest GPA that is most likely to get the scholarship.
Success is easy to measure when it comes to sports.
But how do you measure success in mission work?
Here is what I have learned about measuring success in missions. We far too often measure the wrong things. We use “numbers” that mission workers have no control over, and we fail to measure the essential things that mission workers can and should be doing.
You measure mission work by what workers are responsible for, and that alone. You let God take care of the results. Remember it is God that makes the seed grow.
According to historians of Christian movements, here are the three most important actions of mission workers that lead to individuals and cultures turning their hearts and minds toward Jesus.
Every great disciple-making movement has come from Christian individuals and groups dedicating themselves to devout prayer for non-disciples that they will come to know and believe in Jesus.
2. Sharing the story of Jesus
Mission workers (like all Christians) need to share
with others how they connect to the good news of Jesus. People need to hear the eternal story of Jesus and its impact on real people.
3. Consistently and creatively inviting others to join them in studying the Bible and worshiping
The Holy Spirit’s transformative power is released through study of God’s word and worship.
These are ineffective and limited measures of success…and the ones we typically think of!
1. The number of spiritual conversions and baptisms
When mission workers have done what they can do, it prepares the soil of people’s heart to be receptive to Jesus’ way, truth, and life. If people’s hearts are open to responding to the good news, then God will transform them.
2. Size and number of groups or church
What God does for individuals he also does for groups of Christians. God causes churches and groups of Christians to grow and expand. That is HIS work.
There are many cultural factors that influence the rate at which disciple-making occurs in different regions of the world. For example, in Croatia, it takes an average citizen eight years to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. In Poland, it takes five years for a typical person to become a follower of Jesus. In other parts of the world, such as Africa, or among refugee populations, it may only take weeks. In all these places there are faithful Christian mission workers who are praying, sharing their faith in Jesus, and inviting others to join them in Bible study and worship. And where there is faith expressed in these three ways, God is mostly likely to be seen acting and transforming lives and cultures.
God is on the move in so many powerful ways across the world! The mission of The FLOW is to go where God is actively working and walk alongside the workers in the field providing financial, spiritual, and emotional support. Our current world is both politically and economically complicated. God has used these realities to draw people to Him! These workers are consistently learning and adapting to best serve Him. We should all do the same! Please pray for lives to be blessed by the transformative power of God. Also, we ask for your prayers for discernment and wisdom as we seek new opportunities to support God’s work.
As always, please contact me if you have any questions!