5 D’s of Outcomes Based Ministry
In every area of our lives, we desire a connection of faithfulness and effectiveness. We want effectiveness in how our children are taught in school, how our doctor prescribes medication, or how our mechanic repairs our vehicle. Our calling in ministry is no different. The fruit of our work is ultimately at the center of our faithfulness and must be considered as a critical component from its beginning, middle and end. We believe God can transform lives through the power of his Word. He has charged us to steward and present this gift wisely — by being relevant and relational, persuasive and purposeful in developing the roots of our children and youth in the Word.
In such ministry, there cannot be faithfulness without the intelligent and intentional pursuit of fruitfulness.
OneHope has been in ministry for more than three decades and over that time, the organization has remained committed to being spirit-led. With a mission statement to “share God’s word with every child,” the promptings of the Holy Spirit gives their leaders a sensitivity to some of the most pressing tensions facing the Global Church today. And the tension of “outputs” vs. “outcomes” is one we are all facing. Outputs are the numbers associated with the programs we are creating, while outcomes are the transformational changes we can see. Just like the business world relies on numbers to measure success, this way of thinking is coming into our churches. We might be forgetting our main goal of transforming lives and instead we are making success to be the same as having the highest attendance numbers, or the highest amounts of offerings. But by the grace of God, OneHope is now challenging the Church — pastors, children’s workers and Sunday school teachers everywhere — to remember the importance of transformation.
The core of the message of Christ is transformation, generating change in the lives of individuals, families and communities. Therefore it is imperative for Christian leaders to distinguish between outputs (numbers) and outcomes (transformation). So how can we incorporate the mindset of effective, fruitful and transformative ministry into our work? Through the Five D’s of Outcomes Based Ministry!
The Five D’s is a framework developed through OneHope which currently serves hundreds of ministry organizations and churches across the globe. It offers a simple cyclical process which anyone can use to become more outcomes-oriented. Whether your ministry is teaching a group of 6-year old children on Sunday morning, or leading a youth-group of 16 year-olds on Wednesday night, or preaching to a congregation every Sunday morning, you can apply the 5 D’s.
Here is a summary of how it works:
Effective ministry begins with having a crystal clear understanding of reality. Put on the hat of a learner and start asking questions. Discovery is an opportunity to question our assumptions and reveal the true condition of our communities. Simply put, Discovery is reasonable research. It can use a variety of methods — coordinating formal or informal inquiries, collecting qualitative or quantitative information or consulting primary or secondary sources. No matter the method you choose, the objective is simply to discover the truth. This becomes the foundation for designing great ministry and then putting it into action.
Design envisions what a church/ministry worker should do and what Kingdom change should happen. It is our chance to solve the issues which arose in the “Discover” phase. We want to put on our thinking hats together with a good team and design for solutions. Good design always leads to action. Through a combination of inspiration and ideas, key partners and influencers are brought to the table to design through challenges and create new ministry strategies for implementation.
Do means to implement the work. Here is our chance to try our solutions: to execute our plans and allow real members of our ministry groups to come into contact with our designs, programs and products, in the field. The Church exists in this world to make disciples and elevate the Gospel, and to this end, we must not be afraid to try new ideas and new ways of doing things.
Documenting is writing down what is important. We want to keep track of our progress in order to evaluate where we have succeeded and where we have a chance to try again and get better. Documenting is crucial to evaluating fruitfulness. How many children have we reached and have their lives changed? A management expert, Peter Drucker, once said “What gets measured, gets done.” If it is transformation that we are pursuing, then we should look to document and measure indicators that show evidence of transformation.
Dreaming is looking to the future. After we have assessed our progress in the document stage, dreaming is the space to imagine more solutions, more areas of improvement, more ways we can impact lives. We can look at what needs to change or what needs to be dropped in how we are doing ministry. Dreamers imagine the possibilities that will shape the future and demonstrate their willingness to never stop pursuing effective ministry.
Matthew 7:16 “By their Fruit, you will know them.”
The Scripture commands us to be fruitful and to judge according to fruit. Fruit is the observable result of health, the fulfillment of purpose, the actualization of potential. In the Bible, fruit represents results, evidence, legitimacy, and sustainability. We want to challenge you today to consider:
- How are you pursuing outcomes?
- In what areas is your ministry bearing fruit?
- What transformations are you measuring?
By keeping these questions at the forefront of your work, you will be able to adhere to the Biblical standards of successful ministry.