A random fact you may not know about me. I’ve worked in large corporations, and have experience working in ‘lean six sigma environments’. I’ve managed projects based on Six Sigma principles, and managed teams based on lean principles to make them more efficient.
Great! I hear you say. What is that?
Much of my work used to be (and to some extent in my current role still is) about process improvement. Removing waste from a process so that it is more efficient, faster, and more cost effective – without any loss in quality. Often, by removing the waste in a process, you actually get a better product in the end for less cost and time. That is lean six sigma in action.
Great! I hear again. So what?
I’ve been thinking recently a lot about the Great Commission (as you will know if you are a regular reader). I’ve also been thinking a lot about ‘churches’ (in this case, meaning the organizations we use to define church), and I think we have a lot of waste in our process.
And I am not the only one thinking it.
Today a post came along on Dave Black’s site regarding church planting in foreign countries - Can We Please Do Church Planting Cooperatively?
Dave has some great points, as usual. In his post, he poses this question -
How can we justify sending our well-paid church planters to Ethiopia when Ethiopian evangelists and church planters are eager to do the work themselves at a fraction of the cost?
Why do we send ‘expensive’ missionaries to a foreign country, when there are already many doing the work there for significantly less cost, with more effective methods? I am not saying that we can do all things remotely – there is always a place for people to go to an area to preach the Gospel or do other work. But in many cases there are already people there who we could ‘partner with’ to get the work done!
Lets take a look at some figures. Right now I just ran a quote to fly to Ethiopia next month – the costs range from $2100 to $4200 – for economy, per seat. If I were to go with my wife and kids, that would be 4 times that amount.
There are workers in Ethiopia right now, preaching the gospel full time, with wives and family who live on $40 a month (and struggle to get by). So for my cheapest airfare, for me alone, I could double the salary of one of these workers and still pay them for the next 2 years – that is two years of full time gospel preaching from someone who is local, knows the culture and knows the language.
And I haven’t even factored in any costs for me to do anything – that was just to get to the airport in the capital!
Again – I don’t want to discourage those who are called to the mission field, but we need to take a close look at what we are doing! Do we desire to go to a foreign country for selfish reasons (experience, cultural change, prestige?), or for completely honest reasons? Are the resources we are consuming in going to these countries disproportionate to the work that is being done?
There will always be needs to go to these places, such as going and helping with humanitarian needs, or helping teach those who are then preaching the Gospel, or many other things. But lets take a look – an honest look – and see if what we are doing is actually advancing the gospel, with the resources that we have been given – or if really we are just wasting what we have been given.