I am often asked by people observing us in Brighton, ‘where are the runs on the board? Where are the results of your ministry?’
Coming up shortly we have a Forge event where we will be addressing that specific question.
The format for the morning will see 4 practitioners given 10 minutes each to share how they answer that question, followed by 10 minutes of interaction and then a longer open question time at the very end. We will hear from:
Geoff Westlake – community development approach to mission
Jarrod McKenna – mission among the poor and marginalised
Stuat Wesley – mission in an established setting
Andrew Hamilton – incarnational church plant in suburbia
I thought I’d share with you one of my responses to that question.
The picture above is a graph of my own faith journey. The X axis is my sense of commitment to Christ (yes – measured very subjectively) and the Y axis is time.
I did this exercise with my Mission and Culture class recently (getting them to graph their journey of faith) and the results were interesting. Most of us raised in a Christian family started the line above the ‘zero’ mark, (I am still wondering if that is a biblical understanding) but at some point realised we were not following Jesus. There was some form of ‘conversion’ (how you see that is another issue) and then some ups and downs afterwards.
Now here’s the issue.
In most of my experience, the only place where we record ‘runs on the board’ is at the moment of conversion – the ‘hot spot’. The rest does not show up on our charts and denominational statistics.
Does that mean that the rest does not count?
‘No no no… no one would say that Andrew!’
In my experience the stuff that goes on pre-conversion (even if there is no ‘conversion’) is every bit as important as what happens at that point and afterwards, but it is rarely considered in that light.
When much of a missionary’s time is spent in preparing the ground or ‘sowing’ and there is yet to be a harvest, the natural response seems to be to say ‘there is no fruit’ or ‘there are no runs on the board’, but is that the right answer?
How do you measure ‘runs on the board’?