How do we measure success?

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I am a big baseball fan. If you’re not a sports fan, don’t run away, bear with me. There is a big debate in baseball: what is the best way to evaluate players, traditional scouting or statistical analysis? Do we use the tried and true method of watching a player play and judging their talent, or do we use in-depth analysis and statistics to make a decision on a player? (If this sounds familiar, there is a movie that argues each side of the discussion: Moneyball and Trouble with the Curve).

In the connected age we have become incredible consumers of information. At our fingertips is all the research, statistics, and information we could want. But have we become so obsessed with information that we have abandoned the ability to apply faith, to look at the big picture, or to see where God may be taking us?

So back to baseball: if you ask me, both sides have validity. Statistics and information give us a tangible and practical evaluation of a player. But statistics without using our judgment could cause us to miss great potential.

What does this have to do with BridgeBuilders? Could I argue that this mentality has crept into the world of ministry-based nonprofits? Is it possible that our thirst for information causes us to be focused on stats and metrics, maybe at the expense of faith and vision? And have we become so concerned with tangible results that we lose focus on a ministry’s alignment with the mission of God?

We are frequently asked for specific statistics and tangible evaluations of what we’re doing at BridgeBuilders. Let me say that we are proud of these numbers, how many people are being impacted and the handling of donor dollars responsibly. But this is such a small piece of the story…

We are taking a holistic approach to poverty alleviation. It is not just about how many people we can get in and out the doors of our job training. It’s not just about how many workers we have at Bonton Farms, or how many children get served at H.I.S. Kids…it is about helping heal the broken relationships that cause poverty. It is about the big picture, restoring communities plagued by generational poverty, and seeing that God is writing a grand story, a mission of which He has chosen US to be a part.

Do we want our numbers to grow? Absolutely! Do we want to serve more people and impact more areas of Dallas? Of course! But we also don’t want to be so focused on output numbers that we miss that this is a process; and process requires patience.

We also don’t want for a second to devalue the intangibles of our ministry, the development of each and every individual, and faith that God will continue to bring exponential growth to BridgeBuilders, because we are embodying His call to care for the poor.

Both evaluations are important, statistics show what God has done through BridgeBuilders, and give us projections for the future. But I, for one, am thankful that God is not confined by our statistics or projections, but rather that He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20).