Explore Panel:
July 2023

Missionaries want to succeed and to see the gospel permeate the people group they are attempting to reach. It's natural. But how do you know you are doing the right thing and that it's "working"? In this month’s Explore News, our missionary panel shares how they measure progress.

Measure by Obedience

“I do not think that we can truly measure progress as missionaries, but it's difficult not to try because I come from a very goal-oriented culture, the USA. There are times when we are asked to give numbers of churches, disciples, conversions, etc… But those numbers do not reflect the reality of what is going on and how God is working because God does not work on our culture of progress reports. 
This last spring, I was at a youth camp where, by my standards, I would say I was not doing a great job. It was tiring work but in that difficulty and chaos of the camp, a 14-year-old boy from my small group asked me to pray with him to accept Jesus as his savior!

I have to always remember to be connected and listening for God. When he tells me to move, to speak, or what to do, then I do that. Because it is really him who is doing the work in people's hearts.”

Measure Proclamation and Presence

“Progress is defined differently depending on the season. We have to find measurable ways and create accountability but also leave room for the leading of the Spirit. Of course, in your first term, language and culture are your main priorities, so the definition of progress will largely be based on this.  
One important thing to realize is that success is much more than just the number of churches planted, followers you helped lead to Jesus, and baptisms. It often takes years of minor progress for these things to happen. So, you have to find other ways to measure.  
For example, our team has levels to measure growth in two areas; Proclaiming the message of Jesus and being the presence of Jesus. The first area measures spiritual progress in our contacts. It measures new contacts made, spiritual dialogues of faith, scripture and Bible stories shared, Bible studies started, and followers of Jesus. The second measures the way we can be like the Prescence of Jesus in the lives of those we come in contact with. It measures the amount of trust we build through relationships and by meeting the felt needs of those around us (physical, emotional, mental, etc). We set goals and measure progress in each of the steps in these two areas.
So all that to say, progress must be seen with a lens that can see the various ways God is working in you and through you. Find a way that is not rigid in a definition of progress, acknowledging the small steps, but also keeps you moving forward and not stagnant.” 

Know Where the Finish Line Is

“One of the most helpful things for me in this has been being on a team that set up 'finish lines.' They show us what we are trying to accomplish and let us know when to move on to God's next place for our team. These finish lines then help us set up goals and practices and help us see progress in a big-picture sense. This is important because there are so many things that can feel like a failure in the short-term, but when I see progress over time among the people I've been working with I see that as success, even when my only direct involvement in much of the progress is prayer."

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