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Results oriented shift

The transition from the business world to church leadership involved a learning curve that still creates some uncertainty and discomfort for me. Educational preparation was rugged enough. But, the move from a totally results oriented environment to one less focused was a test of larger proportions. You see, in that day, when the evangelical landscape was more moderate in theological foundation and application, there was little emphasis on quantitative measures. The buzz among spiritual leaders then was about depth. And, the truth under that system can't be measured.

College was a military system when results were top shelf items for leaders. After college, bank staffing was lean and mean, a competitive world where most of us were trying to get someone else's job while fighting off those eyeing ours. Appraisal and promotion were based on a results oriented criteria, rigid goals, and objectives, usually numerical, that were always strictly interpreted. Making the move to hospital financial administration involved the same dynamics as the health care world was being automated. It was a service industry, highly geared to people, but it was activated and maintained by the metrics of accurate numbers.

Then, that all eased to the background in the old church world of the early eighties. Theology was more to the left and results were the product of deeper things. Church administration was about pastoral care and making everyone feel good about themselves and church. Preaching was a fifteen-minute homily about the psychology of the day. Ministry was measured by mover liberal standards---how many women deacons were serving, standards of inclusiveness, and other non-numerical gauges. What is more, under this system the churches in America were drifting.

My growth as a pastor took several turns when God taught me the shift that defined results oriented church ministry. It's not quantum physics and wasn't learned in a classroom. It's a simple exchange that type A, results oriented people can make and use in Kingdom service. You know what it is: it's the shift from numbers to people. I'm not pasionate about numbers anymore. In mission, I am passionate about people. And, that translates as more people. Two or three learnings superintended this move---

1. The Bible emphasizes numbers when the lessons of faith matter.

The Gospel writers reminded us how many people were fed by the five loaves

and two fish. When Jesus told them to cast their net into the sea John

made sure we know the catch was 153. Luke annotated the Day of Pentecost

by mentioning that 3,000 became believers that day. And, there are many

more references where statistics clarify a situation.

2. Jesus gave his church a mission. There must be ways to measure it.

How to measure the accomplishment of the Great Commission has been a

point of debate for church people for two thousand years. Some churches

are highly evangelistic, making baptisms their standard. Others are

disciple makers and love to count the number of classes and learning options

are available. And, the list goes on. Today we're in the church health era and

are fire-breathing church planting or church re-vitalization proponents. Not to

have a way to measure our results is just a way of saying that our results don't


3. When we down play results we lose passion for mission.

The culture wars that are raging today are in many respects an outcome of

ignoring results oriented goals. Secularism would be gaining less ground if

disciple-making efforts were more effective. Not being goal driven may have

positioned the church to the back rows of spiritual influence in the nation.

The Apostle Paul had a basic formula for his results oriented appraoch to mission. He detailed it in his first letter to the church at Corinth---

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he

who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who

waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.

1 Corinthians 3: 6-8, ESV

It's an interesting formula for results oriented people. One plants, one waters but God makes it grow.The context, however, doesn't exclude human effort and the pursuit of results from the economy of heaven. In this model the one who plants and the one who waters are equal in their task, and, they are remunerated because of their labor. You know, their results.

Being results oriented doesn't take us out of his mission. It positions us firmly in it. And, we better pay attention.

We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming,

when no one can work.

John 9:4, ESV

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