“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
I Cor 4:2 (NIV)
One of the remarkable and most challenging realities about our relationship with God is that He has entrusted each of us freely with valuable assets. He gives us these resources and then waits to see how effectively we will invest them for His glory. The key word in the verse above is “prove.” That is why this emphasis on research is so important.
The story of the stewards in Luke 19:11-27 is a reminder that Jesus never talked about success, but He frequently talked about faithfulness. While many of us may feel we have little material assets, each of us have some gift or gifts which can be engaged on behalf of His Kingdom. Scripture also reminds us that we will be held accountable for how effectively we have used these God-given resources. The master in the Luke 19 story was both tough-minded and generous as he evaluated the effectiveness of his stewards.
Evaluating how effective we are with our God-given resources is a very practical kind of research. Such Biblically-inspired evaluation and research has always been one of the motivations for working in partnerships or networks with other believers rather than working alone. I believe strongly that our resources will be more effectively used when linked with others rather than working in isolation.
But these principles are not only true for individual believers, they are true for the Church and for Christian ministries as well. Leaders of organizations have been given special responsibility to ensure that the collective resources of the ministry — its people, financial resources, facilities, vision, experience and relationships — all be put to work most effectively. “To whom much has been given, much will be required.”
In other well-known sectors such as sports and business at least some elements of evaluation are constantly present: Did we win or lose? What has been our winning percentage this season? Did we make a profit? Was it what we expected and, if not, why not? The obvious analogies are everywhere.
In strategic ministry partnerships and networks around the globe, it’s vital partner ministries to research and evaluate how well they are doing, together. I believe there are real benefits as the various members of “the body” work together rather than alone. But, as stewards, we need to be careful and not assume that we are being more effective. Research and evaluation are just as important when we work together as when we are working alone on Kingdom projects. Check other articles on this web site with specific suggestions for helpful evaluation tools – for your partnership or network and even your leadership team. The exercise can be both challenging and exhilarating!
In another article, I recommend that every network or partnership do an annual evaluation and what some of the key issues might be that you want to assess.
Finally, the essential element is, once you do the research, are you and/or your leadership team are serious about asking the key “so what?” questions. What does the research/evaluation suggest in the way of change? Do you and your leadership team have the courage, the commitment to begin to make those changes. And, if what needs to be done is not clear, are you willing to get help from network or partnership specialists? God bless you in your stewardship!