What are appropriate questions to ask about Mission Projects? I can imagine some over officious lout out there asking if we are doing good work in Africa why are the children at a Project 24 Center flashing gang signs?
This from an article written in 1998. Much of it could have been written today. It raised the question to me that we have been asking for a few years now since LCMS World Mission was changed to the Office of International Mission. How do we measure success? What is a failure and why? The author of this article says it well, “however intangible (or sometimes inappropriate) it might be to attempt to measure missions returns, the giver today wants to see what he stands behind”.
The congregant today views himself as something akin to an investor as well. As such, he is less likely to be content by giving liberally to a national headquarters with no discretion as to how the money will be spent. More relevant to the investor analogy, he has no way to measure his “return” on the investment. However intangible (or sometimes inappropriate) it might be to attempt to measure missions returns, the giver today wants to see what he stands behind. Whether it is an individual, a family, a project or a team, all provide more assessable results than national headquarters.
Yet we have to try. What would be good measuring stick? Baptisms? Church plants? Let’s take baptisms. In some areas if you take the amount of money invested in the field and add up the baptism each child baptized cost $250,000. Is that a proper measurement. Church plants? In some areas we have none. We are having issues with our Project 24 Centers. Is building them enough? Do they have to function under an American standard or a Kenyan standard. Is a minimum standard or how do we measure that? Whose in charge of them, the Kenyans or one of us rubes over hear that think we know what we are doing? These are good questions even if I think they are inappropriate.