By Gavin Kibble
3 minute read.
Lions delegates past and present will have heard me refer to Kingdom Return on Investment before but, because the brevity of your time with us, we never really get to look at in detail. Instead we try and take an intuitive view as to what it might be.
Even googling the phrase doesn’t help very much.
I’ve been pondering it recently as a prelude to the book on kingdom economics I will never write – one of 5 books I’m supposed to write but as I have no patience to sit and down and put pen to paper, that’s never going to happen. You are benefiting from a moment sat at home with an Earl Grey tea – and Shell has just sent me an email asking for a blog.
In business a return on investment is a financial measure; it goes something like this… if I invest £100 to start a business and make a profit of £10 then I have a return on that investment of 10%. That’s just a number and so whether you think that is OK or not depends on your own views on risk and reward. For instance, you may view a bank or building society will give you 4% interest on your £100 with no risk a better option if you prefer low risk investments.
So what about Kingdom Return on Investment? Well, it doesn’t have to be financial on either side of the equation or on both. So what might “investment” in these terms be? The parable of the talents gives us a few hints – these could be your time, your talents or your treasure (finances).
And the great commission gives us a hint at the return element in the words of Jesus:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28 v19 – 20).
Around 12 years ago I set up Coventry food bank and, I guess, I got very motivated at doing good. We know how many people we have fed and there is a Matthew 25 v 35 satisfaction from knowing that over 24,000 people are fed each year from this activity. You could describe the KROI as my 24,000 divided by the cost of running Coventry food bank. So is this a good measure of kingdom return on investment? How exactly has this advanced the kingdom.
Or perhaps it’s a measure of failure? Have I (by any measure) met the return element as described in Matthew 28 v19 to 20 or have I just got busy doing good rather than doing God? If we are simply making the world a better place then we are talking about social return on investment (a measure that helps organisations such as charities evaluate the social, environment and economic value they are creating).
But where is the advancement of God’s kingdom in that? It’s an interesting conundrum.
It’s definitely not one to get hung up about; but it is something to challenge us on why we are pursuing our business or project ideas. It’s a checks and balances question – a sort of existential why am I doing what I am doing?
And yes, I know, some of these are difficult to quantify and could be considered subjective but that’s not really the point – it’s our own value judgement that helps us measure how things have changed over time and whether the way we have used our time, talent and treasures has been effective in advancing His Kingdom.