Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Get Understanding

Os Guiness asked,

How are we to be wise and understanding, not simpy well-informed with a surplus of facts and figures? How are we to be always timely, never trendy? How are we to be redefined -- in the right way?

An increase in mission knowledge doesn’t make one an expert, it’s merely a tool to go to the next level in developing a purposeful purpose statement and a strategic plan for ministry. Without relevant and current information we don’t have a prayer (no pun intended) in creating world outreach program for our churches that will have a meaningful impact. Missions, as I've argued before, should not be “a thing we do,” but rather “the thing we are about.” To go to the next level in global outreach the local church must be purpose driven (that’s a catchy phrase, don’t you think) with in-depth research on the state of the world need.

Ed Dayton outlines the importance of doing research.

1. Research is an effort to supply missing information. If you know what you need to know you don't need research.

I am making the assumption that the average church does not have all the information needed to make well informed decisions about global missions. What does your church know about:

* The percentage of the church budget goes to missions? Five, ten, twenty percent?
* Of the money that goes to missions, how much of that money actually gets out of the country? (That does not mean buying lunch in the states for a missionary who works in the 10/40 window or a "fact finding mission" to Mongolia.)
* Of that money that actually gets overseas, how much of that goes to reaching the most unreached (two billion) people of the world? (Companion question: who are the unreached, where do they live and why are they unreached?)
* Of the missionaries your church supports, how many of them are actually a part of reaching those without a gospel witness?

2. How much research do you need? Just enough. Just enough to be able to make adequate plans at the level you are now working.

It’s true, we live in an age of information overload. There is more information in a daily issue of the New York Times than a seventeenth century Britisher would encounter in a lifetime. It’s also true that it’s impossible to attain all the facts; that we can be afflicted with analysis paralysis and never get anything done because we are still studying the problem. But in reality, information overload is not the problem I see in most churches. Most congregations are not looking for information and what little they have is either outdated or irrelevant to the task at hand.

3. If you don't intend to plan, don't worry about doing research. Any road will get you there.

And this seems to be the situation with so many. Churches plan on how they will conduct their worship service, they will plan on their next building program, heck, they will even plan for this summer’s softball league, but they have no plans for reaching the world. The mission project is most often an annual conference, showing a clip of starving kids and orphans, throwing money at the best presentation -- but plan? Not a chance.

The Preacher said, “With all your getting, get understanding" (Proverbs 4:7)

Here are some resources to begin the process for research and information: