Thursday, July 7, 2016

Why do we value reporting and tracking?

Many people here in South Asia (and in general) struggle with the concept of reporting progress on church or ministry growth.  Today I'm having a meeting with some people to bring better understanding on this issue.  Why have we emphasized reporting and tracking so much in Frontier Missions?  For some it can feel controlling.  Others think it isn't loving.  Some feel it isn't necessary.  It can feel too business like and not very spiritual.  Some think we are obsessed with results and don't care about people. 

As I was considering this the other day I asked myself "Is the value reporting and accountability? Is that really the core value?"  As I thought more about this I concluded that it was not.  The core value is not reporting or accountability.  The core value is our deeply held commitment to be obedient to the vision God has given and to the calling He has placed upon our lives and the part of the broader YWAM organization which we call Frontier Missions.  Because we are so committed to that calling we need to measure and evaluate how we are doing in making progress in fulfilling our vision for the release of movements among the unreached.

An example came to my mind that helped to clarify this.  As I've gotten a bit older, its been a lot harder to stay healthy and especially not to gain too much weight.  I've had to work hard at the goal of being healthy.  Sometimes I do better than other times.  Sometimes I exercise and am careful about what I eat.  Other times its more difficult to live in a way that keeps my goal of staying healthy in mind. 

Recently our daughter got married and we had a month with a lot of celebration.  That meant lots of good food!  I ate more than I should have and gained some pounds.  When I came home, I really didn't want to step on the scale and see what I weighed.  It would have been easier to not measure, to not know where I was at or to ignore my goal of being healthy.  But, even though I knew I wouldn't be pleased with the result, I was willing to get on the scale.  Doing that forced me to re-order my priorities, to examine my behavior, set some new short term goals and get back on track.

This is what reporting does for us as church planters.  If we are not willing to regularly check our results, measure and look at where we are at in the goal of movements, we may never see them happen.  We may never reach that goal.  Reporting helps us examine the facts.  I might think I'm doing okay with my weight (as long as I'm only wearing Indian style draw string pants I may not feel my clothes tightening much! :)) but once I step on the scale reality hits.  This can be discouraging in the short term but is critical in the long term. 

Lets not be afraid of reporting.  Lets be willing to step on the scales, so to speak, in our church planting work and to look at the key indicators.  We have a God given vision to pursue.  Our deep commitment to seeing that vision come about makes us willing to report, first to ourselves and then to others who can help us get back on track or overcome obstacles we are facing.

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