How should churches evaluate the success of missionaries they support?
That’s a tough question to answer because competing principles are at play.
- Supernatural fruitfulness can’t always be measured. Remember, missions work is accomplished “by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).
- One of our most important criteria should be whether or not a person is faithfully preaching the Word and living a life of conformity to the Word.
- Nonetheless, the Lord gives different gifts to different members of the body. This means that it’s possible for a person to labor faithfully in a work for which they are not gifted, which may prove discouraging to all parties over time. Through ongoing relationships with such missionaries, a church can get a sense of their gifts and whether their work is a good fit for their gifts and personality.
- Now, a church should be willing to be patient and give time for the Lord to work according to his clock, which will often involve more time than a business waiting for a return on its investment. The first American missionary, Adoniram Judson, didn’t see a single convert for seven years, but ultimately his work contributed to the conversions of thousands.
- Still, we want to be good stewards of the Lord’s resources, both in terms of the money he’s given, as well as in terms of the lives of the missionaries being spent.
- The bottom line: all these factors need to be considered on a case by case basis.