Assumptions and Risk
In order to carry out specific activities and to reach certain goals there are, inevitably, assumptions that have to be made. Indeed, not only is it important to be aware of these assumptions as the one leading the ministry but any potential donor is also interested as they represent the level of risk to his money. Let me illustrate.
One ministry I am aware of in a particular nation has sought to help women over several years who have been caught up in the sex industry. This included those who had been trafficked into that country from other nations under false pretences. The church concerned worked closely with the police who gave the team security as they visited brothels in which many of these women were being held. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement between the police and the ministry. The ministry gained access to brothels they otherwise wouldn’t have got into and they gained protection from the police, and the police benefited from having the ministry staff there for the welfare of the women.
The effect of change
As time passed two changes occurred which the ministry had not anticipated.
- The women grew wary of the police visits and were not willing to admit or speak about the circumstances of both themselves and others.
- A secular agency in the city, which had a wider brief, became very successful in giving the support the women desired.
Thus the client base in the church’s ministry fell. These changes of circumstances resulted in the church taking a bold decision to close the ministry.
The church had made certain assumptions. They had assumed
a) the women would talk openly
b) no other agency would develop in the way this one did.
Further, that church had, I understand, received funding from outside donors. These donors recognised that the original assumptions could not be fulfilled and were cooperative in not insisting on the goals being met in order to justify the funding. Some of the grant was returned when the ministry closed in an ordered manner.
Thinking it through
When planning a ministry it is important to think through what circumstances would render it difficult or impossible to fulfil the intended goals. In this illustration these assumptions reflect local circumstances. Sometimes wider issues such as politics or climate may have a significant effect on achieving successful outcomes.
Several of the ministries I am involved in worldwide are deeply dependent on political stability. For instance, I visited Sierra Leone several times during the civil war in the 90s and that war inevitably had a substantial impact on the ability of the local churches to function ‘normally’. Currently climate is having a major impact in Kenya where 5 million people are facing severe shortage of food and/or water thus rendering it difficult to carry out other ministries. (For updates on this situation click here) In planning ministries churches in those nations must recognise the vulnerable nature of their plans and keep them constantly under review.
In the next blog we will look at examples of assumptions that pertain to the various levels in the Logframe.