In recent weeks I’ve had numerous conversations with people. The topic of tracking has surfaced more than once. Is it biblical?
Tracking numbers and setting goals can feel like it isn’t relational. While the feeling is real, it doesn’t need to be true. We can be both relational and also track fruitfulness. Led by the Holy Spirit and deeply dependent on Him, we can set goals and evaluate progress while still valuing each individual involved.
Admittedly, some people swing one way or the other. Many leaders don’t hold this tension well. We tend to err on one side or the other. Sometimes we say we don’t care about results at all- “God knows my heart and how much I want to see people saved! That is enough.” It sounds spiritual, but is it?
Or sometimes, we beat ourselves up when we don’t see our goals reached. It’s discouraging when we aren’t yet seeing the growth we hope for.
On the other spectrum, some leaders have a complete business mindset. It’s all about numbers for them. This is definitely not a reflection of Kingdom leadership.
Cut From the Budget
A training school leader recently told me about a large mission-giving church. A few years back, they asked for reports from their supported missionaries.
How many people got saved last year? How many baptisms?
Evaluating, they decided to cut the support to most of their foreign missionaries. They would only support indigenous pastors. Convinced they were being strategic, they dropped the support of hundreds of long-term cross-cultural workers.
This is sad and disturbing. It shows a deep lack of understanding of missions and all that is needed to reach the unreached. This ignores issues of unhealthy dependency on foreign funds. Little do they realize that this kind of decision lends itself toward false or exaggerated reporting. It’s a huge temptation and problem on the field. We must not contribute to the problem with these kinds of policies.
This model brings an inappropriate business mentality into missions. National churches must support their own missionaries and church planters. Cross-cultural missionaries may take years to learn the language, culture, and to sow seeds. They are still greatly needed. If they are doing their job well, it will definitely be the nationals who see fruit. They will mentor and lead from behind, not from the front. They may never be able to show numbers.
We must not do what this church has done. Business mindsets and DMM don’t fit well together. This kind of decision must grieve God’s heart. It certainly does mine!
Comparison Isn’t Helpful
When faced with stories like the one above, it’s unsettling. As laborers in the harvest fields, we can slip into a spirit of comparison ourselves. Doubts fill our hearts as we contemplate why it’s happening for others, but not in our town. “I must be a lousy church planter,” we conclude. Working cross-culturally, we can start to feel condemned and worthless.
This is not at all how God wants us to think. This kind of thinking may lead us to not want to track or set goals at all.
We Are His Beloved
Father God is absolutely affirming of us as His sons and daughters. Our love relationship with Him has nothing at all to do with whether or not we start a DMM. Please hear me on this! We must understand and return to this truth often. It is foundational. If we are struggling in our identity as sons and daughters, tracking will cause problems for us. Get healing and help with identity issues first. Then look at your DMM goals.
God Wants Expansion
God deeply cares about His Kingdom expanding. It is His desire and will that there be a breakthrough…that people come to know Him and be transformed. Father God doesn’t just want to see a handful of people loving, serving and worshipping Him. No. He wants the nations. His glory must fill the earth as the waters cover the sea.
God wants you to start a movement of disciples more than you want to see it yourself! He does care about results. When we are not yet effective, He is ready to help us make changes. God wants us to be fruitful! His word is clear about that (John 15). When we are fruitful, He gets the glory.
“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”John 15:8 ESV
Look for Something to Multiply
We hold these things in tension while looking for what we can multiply. If you don’t yet have disciples, how can you multiply other aspects of the process? Can you multiply prayer? Can you multiply abundant seed sowing?
- If you are a group of 10 people praying weekly…what would it take to see that be 100?
- If there are 50 gospel presentations each month to your target people group or area, how could you see that become 500/month this year?
- If you are training 12 people in evangelism, how could you help those 12 people to each train 12? Then you would have 144 people trained and active in sharing Christ with others.
Or, if you already have disciples and groups, how can you multiply leaders? How can you train each person to start new groups of disciples?
We must think about multiplication in everything we do. Multiplication needs to become part of the DNA of how we live, minister, and operate. If you are not thinking about multiplication related to prayer and gospel sowing, you likely won’t multiply disciples either.
Take time to assess your effectiveness. Prayerfully set goals and move forward. Let go of the fear of failure and take a step of faith.
What could you try to multiply this month?
Starting your first discipleship group?
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