One of the great gurus of church and conference vitality is Dr. Gil Rendle. Gil serves as Senior Consultant for the Texas Methodist Foundation (TMF). He is the convener and guide for the South Central Jurisdiction (SCJ) Bishops Conclave (a bishops’ learning group) as well as working with a group of Cabinet members from across the state. He is the author of a number of significant works including Journey in the Wilderness: New Life for Mainline Churches (which I have highly recommended in the past) and his newest, Doing the Math of Mission: Fruits, Faithfulness and Metrics. Last June I was invited by Dr. Rendle to write a brief recommendation of the book. I wrote the following:
Doing the Math of Mission is a seminal work that merits a deep embrace by struggling mainline Protestants. Rendle challenges us to move beyond counting to measuring purposeful outcomes related to the deep mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. Diamonds of insight are found on almost every page. For instance, “Perhaps the most effective outcome is one that ‘offends’ in its clarity” (p. 30). The critical shift of focus from inputs to measurable outcomes, which reflect clarity of purpose, offers specific and concrete guidance to any congregational leader (lay and clergy alike) or any judicatory executive. Framed in a sound theology, Doing the Math of Mission provides critical material to build a bridge to the future of God’s preference of the Church.Currently we (as both a Conference and as the larger United Methodist Church) are wrestling with issues that swirl around accountability (for both churches and clergy), metrics, outcomes and fruitfulness. These critical issues will not and should not go away. I have repeatedly insisted that metrics must be yoked to what I like to call the narrative. Narrative is the story of fruitfulness in its widest context. At its root the issues of faithfulness and fruitfulness intersect at the junction of just-whose-church-is-this. Biblically speaking, we must always insist that this is not our church – either Conference, laity or clergy – but in fact the Lord’s church. It is, we are together, the body of Christ! Math really goes with mission! Thus, it is a joy to strongly recommend and urge the reading of Gil’s insightful book – Doing the Math of Mission: Fruits, Faithfulness, and Metrics. While I am on the subject of mission, tomorrow Jolynn and I leave with a Central Texas Conference mission team to Kenya. Many churches in the Central Texas Conference have had long-term mission relationships with the Methodist Church of Kenya. It should be an insightful and exciting time of learning. I hope to blog about the trip in the unfolding 2 week period. This is truly a part of our purposeful outcomes related to the deep mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.