“I wonder why there is such an obsession with structure and methods… The love and loyalty to these is what has kept the gospel from jumping into the Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist worlds… Missionaries are “forced” to think church planting because those who support them judge their “success” on how many churches are started, not what God is doing through them amongst these people in an organic and thus “un-measurable” ways…”
In part, I agree with this assessment. And, as a missionary, I too have been subjected to these kinds of metrics. Being connected with hundreds of other missionaries all over the world via twitter, it’s a common theme. But, shouldn’t there be some kind of metrics by which supporters of missionaries can measure their “success?”
To that end, I’ve often heard regarding Christian agencies, organizations, and groups, that “you shall know them by their fruit.” I can’t help but think that it might be using those scriptures outside of their contexts. Matthew 7:20 and related verses speak of the character or fruit of the individual. Those verses speak to transformation of a person. People can be fruitful, but I’m not so sure that the same can be said of an organization or structure. Is there an a biblical warrant for corporate fruit inspection? A few more questions:
1. Can the number of churches planted or disciples made be considered “fruit?”
2. Shouldn’t supporters of missionaries expect an accounting of stewardship?
3. What benchmarks should be used in determining a missionary’s “success?”