Identity, Witness, and the Death of Peter

According to tradition, the Apostle Peter went to Rome during the rule of the Emperor Nero to lead the church there. At that time, Emperor Nero was looking for a reason to put Peter to death and stamp out the sect called the Way. When the followers of Jesus in Rome heard the news, they …

Spiritual Metrics Pt 4 – Restricted-Access Contexts

In some places, Christians are not welcome, nor are Westerners. Questions about values may or may not be acceptable. What are we to do in those places? Should we abandon the idea of measuring impact entirely? Each organization will have to come up with its own answer to that question. There is a lot of …

Spiritual Metrics Pt 3 – Moving Towards Impact

The principles of measuring spiritual impact outline some potential ways forward. However, it bears repeating that “tearing down is easier than building up”. The problems with measuring spiritual impact are obvious. Possible solutions are much more tenuous. These too I will outline as principles that will need to be adapted to a local context. The …

Spiritual Metrics Pt. 2 – First Principles

Metrics to measure spiritual growth is the holy grail of integral mission, at least among organizations that receive funding from Western \ evangelical donors. Ever since development agencies began trying to develop holistic programs by incorporating spiritual aspects, they have been scrambling for ways to assess the success (or failure) of those initiatives. Last time, …

Spiritual Metrics Pt 1

Clarity. It’s the biggest difference between corporations and non-profit organizations. Not the profit motive or market forces or greed. The key difference is clarity. Success for a corporation is profitability over time, unambiguously displayed on the “bottom line” of the P&L statement. Success for a non-profit organization is achieving its mission and vision, or making …

Better Than Mission Management – Faithful Stewardship

The methodology of the earliest evangelists (and Jesus) seems simple. Call people to follow Jesus. That’s it. Do the kinds of things he did, for the kinds of reasons that he did them. Treat all people / churches as responsible adults capable of discerning God’s ethical / moral will based on His Word. The Bible …

The Biblical Evidence for the Management of Mission

When we look at the New Testament for a management mindset, we can’t find anything. No instructions on how to do evangelism, or measure success, or strategize. The New Testament does record joy and rejoicing at the spread of the word of God, at the conversion of unbelievers, and at spiritual maturity (cf., Acts 2:41, …

40 Years Later – Pt 2 – Revisiting Centered and Bounded Sets

Last month, we redefined centered sets and bounded sets here. A bounded set is a collection of all objects which possess the defining characteristics which determine the membership of the set. A centered set is a collection of all objects which are moving towards a well-defined center. This month we will review Hiebert’s original observations …

Centered Sets vs Bounded Sets – 40 Years Later

Forty years ago, Dr. Paul G. Hiebert wrote an article called “Conversion, Culture, and Cognitive Categories” in Gospel in Context that introduced a pair of abstruse mathematical concepts from non-cantorian set theory to the world of missiology. These two concepts, the Bounded Set and the Centered Set, sparked a quiet revolution in missions as pastors, …

The Management Paradigm for Mission: Providing the Right Answers to the Wrong Questions

Last time, we investigated the introduction of the management paradigm into the world of mission. Here’s a link if you haven’t read it yet. Dr. McGavran was not a revolutionary thinker. He took an incremental step that was perfectly in line with American culture. It was pragmatic, empirical, and data driven. He continued the relatively …