Setting measurable and predictable objectives is appropriate if one is measuring activities But activities are not the same as the outcomes that result from the activities. For example a legitimate measurable objective might be to show the Jesus film 100 times. This admirable objective is both quantifiable and predicted. But it isn't an outcome goal. The real "faith goal" is to see people make a genuine heart commitment to Christ or to see local believers passionate about evangelism. The important outcomes are inner qualities not external quantities.
It's interesting that the Pharisees in Jesus' day attempted to quantify the Ten Commandments. For example, "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy." is an internal heart-related command, but the Pharisees wanted to make it behavioral and quantifiable. Thus they debated how many steps one could take on the Sabbath, how to avoid lighting fires etc. By attempting to set quantifiable behavioral objectives they became hopelessly legalistic. Jesus invested much of his teaching to combat quantitive measurements with inner heart change.
- Tend to aim for what is easily measurable rather than heart change in people and churches. What is easily measurable is often insignificant.
- Tempt us to count activities rather than eternal outcomes. Since we can count how many times we do things, it is tempting to think we are successful merely by being active.
- Assume that quantity is an accurate reflection of quality, when in fact, often the opposite may be true. Could it be that the faster the growth of the church, the shallower the quality of discipleship?
- May lead to a missionary becoming incorrectly encouraged when only external goals are met, or becoming wrongly discouraged by ignoring the subtle hints of blessing.
- Lead to insignificant or even trivial goals. Since measurable objectives must be achievable, we aim at what we know we can achieve rather than true faith vision. We aim too low when we aim at what can be predicted and quantified.
Evaluation that comes after-the-fact can be most helpful in improving programs. I'm convinced that the the best evaluation considers not just outcomes, but programs and cultural awareness of the situation, and how the three fit together. But this is the subject of another blog.