Publication date: 01/27/23

Obsessive About Measurements?

Certain things about working in a non-profit ministry are different. For one thing, it really is “non-profit:” one of my pet peeves is that software companies are canceling discounts for religious (not other types!) organizations. Better software for editing videos, retouching photos or new media authoring meant more hours to bill to a client before. But when non-profits pay the full commercial price, it doesn’t work that way. (It’s one reason we’ve often used open-source alternatives or decided to develop our own software.)

GMO can be as “religious” as we want to, it doesn’t bring us more income. However, removing the profit motive doesn’t remove the need for accurate work. We scrupulously measure and report results. It’s important that we and our ministry partners see progress, adjust approaches, clearly discern what works best, and project outcomes for strategies. We’re always trying to improve on our way toward our goals.

Gospel Visits

New Contacts



Fiscal Year 2023 goals

2022 ResultsSometimes our numbers are met with skepticism by those unfamiliar with our ministry: yes, we really are reaching that many people. Are some of them “bots”? No: it’s not that automated processes don’t hit our servers, but we remove them from the results. I have access to virtually all the numbers and can see where the contacts come from, what sites they visited, what decision they indicated, what social media platform or email address they use, what advertising campaign they saw, etc. We track discipleship messages they received, links they clicked, messages they sent in response to our emails, and how long it took their assigned OM to answer them.

I created some new discipleship measurements into the new PATH system: has the contact’s assigned volunteer verified their relationship with Christ? Did they mutually agree to discipleship? How long did that take? How many qualified disciples do we have? To what extent is a given contact engaging in personal Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, personal evangelism and walking in dependence on the Holy Spirit?

Mike HealthI also added some ways a leader can evaluate communications for quality: are Online Missionaries engaging with empathy, writing with appropriate biblical accuracy and modeling spiritual growth? How about their use of our resources: do they know what to do with the disciple? Do they have a plan? Are they taking enough contacts on a regular basis to stay actively engaged? Is anyone some taking too many to manage? How long does the average contact have to wait for the first response from us? How many messages do they send back and forth? Are waiting messages piling up anywhere because of too much response for us to handle?

Are we too obsessed about numbers, math and measurements? I don’t think so. Think about the dimensions of the Tabernacle and Temple. The explicit weights and measurements throughout Scripture. All the gifts of the different Tribes of Israel, and the genealogies of the people. Pillars, coins and spoons are measured by weight. There are whole chapters in the Bible where it’s linen and wool, or cubits, spans, ephahs, omers, baths, and handbreadths, or shekels, minas or talents that are used to reveal God’s work to you in a very practical way.

Is God careless about the return on His investment? Not at all: He marks the fourth category of soils in the Sower Parable as all “good” - but some bore thirty, others sixty, others a hundred-fold. Parables like the Workers in the Vineyard, the Talents and the Householder all have elements that are recognizable as investments, portions, work-hours and accountability in them.

The New Year is a great time to be thinking about strategy, trajectory, goals and accountability. Would you pray with us that…

  • …we will be able to clarify and prioritize through the activities we track and the outcomes we constantly measure? That there’s no “meter” we can hold up to an individual to detect the indwelling Holy Spirit: so it’s all to be thought of as metrics associated with effective ministry, rather than a validation of spiritual authenticity. But may God help us to measure carefully, calculate accurately and interpret significance properly, on everything I have described, and show us anything important that we’re missing.
  • …our core ministry response center software, PATH, and its management version, the PATH CRM, will be fully completed soon, that it would powerfully enable ministry for our volunteers, be secure against all the enemy’s attacks and maintain long-term stability?
  • …we’d be able to effectively match a sufficient number of volunteers for the harvest allotted to us? In just the last few weeks, we’ve seen several of our wonderful “hundredfold” workers pass away; (they’ve reached out to tens of thousands of contacts apiece!) Meanwhile, the PATH system doesn’t allow us to effectively train new volunteers yet. Please pray this can be completed soon. An ever-dwindling team serves an ever-increasing number of seekers!

Here are a few personal requests from the Skinner family:

  • Praise: Emily has been assigned to a new research project in her graduate program in Florida. This is an answer to prayer, because she’d inherited a project that wasn’t yielding much success. Request: Unfortunately an expensive scientific instrument upon which her work depends was recently damaged, and repairing it will be costly for the university.
  • Luke continues to experience a great deal of pain and inflammation, and this semester brings challenging senior-level engineering projects and presentations. Please pray for Luke and his wife Lilian.
  • I (Mike) had surgery on January 12 to remove another bladder cancer tumor. We’re praying the followup on January 30 will give us positive (Stage zero, as before) biopsy results.

We’re so thankful for each of you: for your concern and prayers for us, your friendship and your faithful investment in our work. We’re praying for a great return on your investment! So many of you have shared your sense of God’s impressing on you the need to pray for us, or how God has given you a supernatural love for us! That “third party” evidence of His work through you to edify us is so meaningful to us! We’ve learned so much about this kind of relationship in the last 15 years, and what older staff members have told us is true: love for one another is one of the beautiful implications of Matthew 6:21: “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” It’s working in us and for us, invested in the human resources of the people of God!

Love, in Christ,

Mike Skinner Cindy Skinner

One Day Closer!
Romans 13:11