Two conversations from last week have been on my mind…
One was with a colleague working in a ministry that serves kids with special needs. The sense of discouragement in their voice was palpable. This person is a very dedicated servant, but was questioning whether the work being done was making a difference.
Earlier in the week, I was pondering a question from our acting Executive Director… What have we done at Key Ministry in the past ten years that’s made the greatest impact?
I had a very hard time approaching the question. If our mission is to help churches connect with families impacted by disabilities, the answer would seem straightforward. Our “win” occurs every time a family of a kid with a disability connects in a meaningful way with a local church we’ve trained or influenced.
Thoughtfully evaluating the “fruit” of our ministry is an important task. Although I firmly believe God places more importance upon our faithfulness than He does in our success, we’re nevertheless called to be good stewards of the resources we’ve been given (see Matthew 25:14-30). We have a responsibility to those who support our ministry to seek the best return on their Kingdom investment. There will be times when God closes some doors and opens others. Investing people and resources into those activities where God appears to be at work transforming lives seems like part of our ongoing discernment process.
We’re challenged in trying to evaluate our primary outcome measure because we’re dependent upon the churches we serve to report to us when kids with disabilities and their family members are making new connections. One measure we can look at is the number of kids being served by churches we’ve trained as part of our FREERESPITE initiative. But is that more (or less) impactful than training church staff and volunteers on including kids and families into weekend worship services or other Christian education activities?
This morning, I was having breakfast with Stephen Burks… a very gifted worship pastor who launched a fabulous video production company to help support a ministry that serves the arts community. Stephen has also been a great contributor to our Key Ministry Board, and we were lamenting the failure of our ministry team (and other like-minded ministries) to effectively communicate and disseminate the “stories” of God at work through the efforts of local churches. With a little more time for reflection, a couple of Bible passages came to mind that appear to illustrate the principle that the measures of a “God thing” are the stories of the people whose lives were indisputably touched as a result of God at work, through the ministry of Jesus or the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of His followers.
The first passage is from Matthew 11…John the Baptist had been imprisoned and sent his disciples to Jesus with questions…John may have thought his disciples needed encouragement while he was imprisoned, or John (like the rest of the Jewish people) may have been expecting a very different type of Messiah. Here’s Jesus’ response…
Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.
Matthew 11:2-5 (ESV)
Later, in Acts 15, we find the early church making a critical decision at the Jerusalem Council regarding the status of Gentile converts based largely upon the stories Paul and Barnabas related “what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles”.
While there is merit to many of our outcome measures, the most reliable measures of God at work are the stories of what God accomplishes through the service of His people.
Here’s a story of one of the families served through the ministry launched in Stephen’s church…
Confused about all the changes in diagnostic terminology for kids with mental heath disorders? Key Ministry has a resource page summarizing our recent blog series examining the impact of the DSM-5 on kids with mental health disorders. Click this link for summary articles describing the changes in diagnostic criteria for conditions common among children and teens, along with links to other helpful resources!
Why don’t we get it more quickly? God used “story” to tell His. It MUST be the most powerful medium! AND it IS! Thanks for the reminder! Thanks for being the faithful pioneer you are for the Kingdom!
Thanks Ann! Got any cool “God Stories” to share from A Restoration Church?