How Do You Measure Missions?

Terrific insights for those wanting to evaluate the effectiveness of their own ministries and of those they support. by J.D. Crowley, posted with permission.

It’s always been frustratingly difficult to appraise missionary ventures. What if Adoniram Judson’s church had pulled him off the field after nine years of what seemed to be fruitless work in Burma? It was the next twenty years that were so incredibly fruitful, and today there are hundreds of thousands of believers in Burma.

But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to take a look back and measure what’s happened. After all, we’re pouring a lot of God’s resources into the enterprise. And besides that, looking back can encourage the church and reveal areas that need work.

Some people measure missions by whether or not the gospel has reached a particular location. A friend of ours told us that when her parents were on the way to a remote ... island to work with a tribe, they met someone coming back from [the island] who cheerfully told them, “No need to go there; I’ve already shown the Jesus Film to them.”

The Apostle Paul would not have measured missions in that way. He didn’t consider a province reached unless there was a functioning church led by qualified pastors and deacons. That’s why Paul left Titus on the island of Crete. Though the gospel had been preached, and people had believed the message, they still needed to come together to form churches, and they still needed godly leadership.

Perhaps it made it easier for Paul that most of his first converts were the Jews of the Diaspora scattered all over the Roman Empire. They already knew their Bible (the Old Testament) front to back, and also knew how to run a church, since they had been running synagogues for hundreds of years. Some of Paul’s first converts were synagogue leaders, men of great learning and integrity. And there were noble women like Lydia who loved God and his Word. That’s one reason Paul could plant a functioning church within just a few months of his arrival.

There are at least six ways to measure missions:

  • Has anyone proclaimed the gospel in a clear and systematic way from creation to Christ (not just the Jesus Film!), baptized the converts, and taught them “to obey everything [Christ] commanded”?
  • Have the believers joined together into local congregations which will be microcosms and foreshadowings of the future kingdom of God, where love and truth are expressed every day?
  • Are there godly pastors and deacons who model humble leadership according to 1 Timothy 3?
  • Do the churches know how to reproduce new churches in other locations (through evangelism, not church splits!).
  • Do the pastors know how to train new pastors?
  • Do they have the Bible (and other Christian books) in the heart language of the people, since the church can’t be the church without the Word of God?

Posted by David Hosaflook