A major and necessary shift is taking place today in the world of missions. It is being driven by the high cost of having missionaries deployed globally and by a realization that nice cannot substitute for strategic. I remember talking to a staff member some years ago whose ministry had limited effectiveness. When I talked about the need to be results oriented in our mission activity he said, "what matters is faithfulness!" Now faithful ministry is important but so is strategic ministry.
Consider three issues. First, it takes about $100,000 to keep a mission family on the field on average. One can only justify that cost if there is a well thought out plan for how they do ministry.
Second, the world is growing at a rate of 78,000,000 people per year. At a world population of 6.5 billion people, the most people who have ever lived in human history it requires us to think strategically if we are going to make even a small dent for the gospel.
Third, we never hire people in our churches in the United States to do "nice." Our resources are limited too. We hire staff who can do strategic and results oriented ministry. It baffles me that we have such different standards for international mission work where the requirements to do well are often higher than they are in the United States.
In ReachGlobal we have taken a number of steps to move us toward greater ministry productivity. First we have moved all of our personnel into teams so that there is synergy, greater creativity, greater care between members and the strength of various gifting rather than missionaries out on their own.
Second, we have place a much higher emphasis on good leaders leading at each level of the mission - something downplayed in many mission organizations where historically decisions - large or mundane were made by a committee of the whole group. Thus we have moved from cumbersome to efficient.
Third, each of our staff has a set of Key Result Areas for the Year along with an annual ministry plan. Before the year begins they know exactly what their plan is and then they can focus their efforts on the plan. In addition, there is a monthly coaching/mentoring with their supervisor to ensure that they are on target and to remove barriers they are facing.
Fourth, through the concept of the Sandbox we have moved decision making down to the leaders and teams that are best designed to make decisions in their context. We still have huge alignment because our alignment is around the mission, guiding principles, central ministry focus and culture of health as defined by the sandbox that everyone is required to play in.
Finally we are committed to multiplication through the developing, empowering and releasing of healthy national leaders for the planting of indigenous, interdependent, self supporting, healthy and reproducing churches. This breakthrough in our thinking means that we no long plant and pastor churches ourselves but raise up indigenous leaders from the very beginning, becoming developers, coaches and mentors. We call this moving from multiplication to addition.
In all of this we have been intentionally moving from a culture of nice to a culture of strategic international missions. We are also seeing significant ministry results from our shift. This also has implications for the missionaries your church supports: are they doing nice things or are they engaged in strategic ministry?