Over the next few weeks, we are going to be spending time looking at outcomes for faith-based organizations. I sometimes hear from nonprofits and ministries that because they are faith-based, they do not need to concern themselves with outcomes. However, while outcomes for faith-based organizations may look differently, we do need to be able to communicate to our stakeholders how effective our work is and how we are making a difference in the lives of those we serve.
We are going to use the book, The Choice, for our discussions over the next few weeks. If you would like to pick up a copy, you can get it here through Amazon.
The first question we must all ask ourselves as we engage in nonprofit and ministry work is, “How do we define success?” This question has caused more than one heated discussion around the board table but it is an important one to answer to ensure everyone is on the same page. Likewise, the next question that goes with it is “how do we measure success.” In all areas of our lives, we measure what we view as important.
Unfortunately, there are times for all nonprofits and ministries when we try to fold the measures used by the rest of the world into our kingdom work. It usually does not go too well.
The common path as it is defined by the authors is one that includes:
Production oriented leadership – this leader is continually focused on getting more, accomplishing more.
Expansion focused strategies – Production focused leaders used expansion focused strategies. They tend to focus on how to do more. More is used to define success.
Earthly oriented metrics – Performance and measurements are associated with the expansion the leader pushed for. Numbers are the driving force in everything done.
Results-Based Management – Everything in the organization (pay scales, promotions, success) is determined by whether or not growth has happened. The ministry that “happens to occur” is viewed as nice, but is not really the center of the focus.
Utilitarian View of Resources – Everything is viewed as an asset. All assets are valued according to what they contribute to the bottom line. And, since the focus is always on growth, MORE resources are always needed.
Does growth and expansion define your organization’s success? There is another way, the Kingdom Path.
When we are on the Kingdom Path, our success is measured by our obedience to the instructions of Jesus Christ. On the Kingdom Path, we become less concerned about results that we are not able to control because we are focused on obedience.
How do we measure success on the Kingdom Path?
- We begin looking at our faithfulness in meeting needs instead of counting numbers served.
- We look at our effectiveness in stewarding our resources instead of focusing how getting more.
- We desire to maintain dependence on God instead of hoarding for “sustainability.”
Characteristics of The Kingdom Path include:
Steward Leadership – The steward leader recognizes that everything belongs to God and we are dependent on God for everything. Steward leaders are not focused on both growth/expansion and being obedient at the same time; one will always take priority.
Faithfulness – Focused Strategies – The steward leader uses the strategies of discernment and doing God’s will as their focus. They are looking to the Holy Spirit for guidance and leadership.
Eternity Oriented Metrics – There is a lot of talk today about metrics to determine effectiveness, usually using quantitative measures instead of qualitative measures. Jesus gave the qualitative measure in Matthew 28:19-20; “to teach people to observe and obey everything Jesus teaches.” Eternity oriented measures measure growth in God’s Kingdom not on earth.
Relationship Based Management – In the Kingdom, relationships matter! Look at people as children of God and not just what they are producing or not producing. Journey with them.
Stewardship View of Resources – Instead of stockpiling resources, the steward leader puts them to work. The focus when hiring staff is on their spiritual giftedness.
This path is not easy, but we knew that! In the Bible we are told that the narrow path is not the easy path. But the path of obedience can lead to so many blessings.
Today, what do you need to do to focus on Kingdom outcomes instead of earthly ones? How does your organization define and measure success? Do you have a tendency toward one path over the other?
I would love to hear from you and talk with you about how to create a Kingdom Focused organization.
Want to read the book? You can order it here.