The Fruit of Transformation
Can Transformation be Measured?
"Where's the beef?" A television commercial some years back coined those familiar words which have now become a challenge to show the fruit of one's efforts. It's a fair question to ask of any business, ministry, government, educational or arts company that strives to be a transformation organization. We chose to deal with this question first, because change at the systems level seems so overwhelming that people often disengage, We believe it is vital to understand that transformation not only can take place at high levels, but is taking place – and all over the world. Once we understand how to spot it and measure it, we won't be afraid to tackle it. Understand this: it is God doing the transforming through us. "It is God who arms [us] with strength and makes [our] way perfect," (Psalm 18:32) and, "it is God who works in [us] to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)
(Note: Our thanks to Ed Silvoso and the Harvest Evangelism team for their work on the last of the Five Pivotal Paradigms – The Elimination of Systemic Poverty as the premier social indicator of transformation. It expanded our view and led us to this broader understanding of measuring transformation in systems).
Of course, the primary fruit of transformation is eternal fruit – the salvation of the nations and the individuals within them. The ultimate goal is to restore everyone and everything "under one head" that being Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:10). How do we measure that this side of the end times? While we can't easily measure spiritual outcomes, we can identify proxy measures. We can measure the worldly effects of separation from God and whether our actions alleviate or eliminate those effects. What are they? They are very clear in Scripture.
It all began with The Fall. Mankind made that fateful decision to break fellowship with God. As a result, we would ever after struggle with relationships with each other, and with the entire world of plants and animals that had been provided for us. The earth which was to sustain us became something we had to contend with for food. Weather disasters, crop failures, predators, climate change and more can easily be traced back to this moment in time. The perfect male/female bonding we had was corrupted into something marked by desire, jealousy, shame and blame. (Genesis 3:14-19)
God gave us a means to set things right and established The Law. Turning back to Him in complete obedience and dependence would result in all the blessings of Deuteronomy 28:1-14. Rebellion and attempts to live apart from Him would result in the curses listed in the following verses, 15-68. These included disastrous financial, physical, and emotional outcomes, as well as breakdown in families and marriages.
We were unable to live within The Law, though, and continued to go our own way. Enter Jesus: God's eternal plan to redeem us from the consequences of sin and to open once again the opportunity to share in the perfect fellowship into which He had created us. The New Testament is filled with proxy measures as Jesus and His disciples after Him describe the positive effects of transformed lives. They include:
The provision of all our daily living needs
Matthew 6:33 in the context of seeking first His Kingdom
Philippians 4:19 in the context of liberally giving to others
Matthew 5:6 in the context of striving after righteousness
The removal of the effects of the curse of sin
Galatians 3:13 in the context of accepting Jesus and His promises by faith
Revelation 22:3 in the context of describing heaven on earth
Reconciliation with God, with others, and with all things
2 Corinthians 5:17-20 in the context of living a life in Christ
Ephesians 2 in the context of being saved by faith in Christ
Colossians 1:20 in the context of transferring from the world to the Kingdom
Miraculous healing, signs and wonders
Matthew 5:17 in the context of putting faith in Jesus
Luke 9:1 in the context of having authority in Christ
Mark 16:17 in the context of believing
1 Corinthians 2:4 in the context of preaching in the power of the Spirit
Putting all these together, we can identify numerous systems-level proxy measures for the presence of Transformation. We can measure progress of our co-laboring with God by a change in those measures. Each transformation organization will be called to work in a different area and so, will choose different measures to track. We suggest a few in several categories to get you started in prayer and discernment for your organization.
Reconciliation between groups, individuals, nations, cultures, etc.
Decrease in divorces, family alienation, child or elder abandonment
Improved international relations
Decreased terrorism, wars, etc.
Decreased ratio between "Haves" and "Have-Nots"
Decrease in poverty level of an area, a culture or of a people group
Increased percentage in giving among individuals, churches, corporations, etc.
Healthy, growing economic indicators for a city, state, region or country
Improvement in birth rates and ability to thrive
Decrease in generalized health problems such as obesity, hypertension, cancer, etc.
Increase in supernatural healing and health
Decrease in mental health problems and diagnoses
Decrease in suicide rates
Deliverance from debilitating ancestral and childhood hurts and trauma
Numbers of people accepting Christ
Numbers of people being baptized in the Holy Spirit
Organizations, governments, etc. proclaiming Christ as Lord
Increase in worship attendance
Decreased acceptance of ungodly entertainment and cultural practices
Decrease in graft, corruption, bribes, etc.
Increased inter-party cooperation
Legislation that dismantles injustice
Presence of God-honoring, Spirit-led professionals in politics and government service
Increased graduation rates
Decreased disparity between access and success of education among people groups
De-politicization of educational systems
Decrease in abhorrent practices such as abortion, slavery, trafficking, child abuse, elder abuse, etc.
Presence of positive role models in the public eye (athletes, entertainers, etc.)
In short, let's measure anything that impacts our progress toward bringing the light of the Kingdom of God into the dark places. To the extent that Jesus, the Light of the World, is admitted into the dark, that is the extent to which transformation can take place. "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." (John 12:46)
Here are two excellent resources that will expand your view of how you and your business or organization can be used in the world:
Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good, Amy L. Sherman, InterVarsity Press, 2011
Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life: Rethinking Ministry to the Poor, Robert D. Lupton, Regal, 2007
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