Posted by: tlhawkins | December 2, 2009

Defining Success by Missional Mapping

We have recently been exploring the idea of MissionalMapping to help us get a picture of what success looks like.

I want to share some definitions and an exercise we are using with our staff in hopes that you can help us refine the idea and make it even more useful for our team and maybe spark helpful conversation for others.

Missional: Oversimplifying, missional is an orientation of the community of Christ from the “soil in which it is planted” toward the community to participate in God’s redemptive story. Mission animates or organizes the community. Alan Hirsch has talked about it this way,The church does not have a mission, but the mission has a church.

Mapping: Again, oversimplifying (and, depending on your discipline, not complete) drawing a connection between two things.

I’ve much appreciated the perspective of Jim Musser about a retrospective approach to defining success, and having initially launched in Boston under Impact, Dean Trune‘s reminder about the pursuit of connectedness is always foundational.  I also appreciated conversations raised about the need for more exigent feedback for new college ministers, and others who have been exploring this topic in the past month, like  Ian Clark at NewChapter, as well as Ben Hines (who will be a guest blogger here at HOCM next week on this topic), and Aaron Klinefelter.

If you know me, you know that I have been heavily influenced by guys like Alan Hirsch and Neil Cole (for a variety of reasons that are for another post) and a call for a missional/creative/imaginative approach to participating in the mission of God in the world, and in our world as that relates to campus ministry. The problem is that too often missional gets negatively defined as the Wednesday night group of guys playing Call to Duty, or positively as the group of people serving at the soup kitchen each week. I’m not saying these might not be missional, but sometimes they are simply the “events” without any sort of missional impulse…a reproductive, incarnational, movement from the community of Christ onto common ground in the world.

My difficulty has been to find ways to effectively “measure” the effectiveness of alternative and/or missional efforts, especially in regard to campus ministry in order to communicate it effectively.  Before, when I worked from a centralized gathering where everything was organized around the mid-week gathering, stories were accessible and attendance easy to take.  I had a “good feel” for when things were going pretty good and when they weren’t.  As we have taken an alternative approach not centered on a gathering, as things move away from the center, stories aren’t as accessible to the center of the organization and counting attendance means counting for 20 different expressions, and my “feel” what how we are doing is not as tuned in.

What we (at least I) wanted to know was, “Are we being an effective missional collegiate community, and how do we know?”  So, after reflecting on the idea of “mapping” through social networks, we decided to give this a try for ministry.  In doing so, we needed to decide what should get mapped…

How do we decide if it is worth mapping?
1. Emerged from a direct relationship
2. Exhibits a reproductive DNA (will create a new connection(s)
3. Has quantifiable outcomes AND life-transformation stories around it

As a result, here is a link to our SojournMissionalMap.  It’s a quick stab at a 3-yr. missional mapping of SojournCollegiateMinistry.

Here is what we learned just in quick reflection:

1. Campus Ministry is one-kind of collegiate ministry expression in our organization
2. There were far more outcomes than we expected.
3. It helps us communicate better who we are and what collegiate ministry means for us.

4. It helps cast a vision for our leaders about new expressions of communities that emerge away from the center.
5. Collaboration and partnership provide more immediate trust for a new organization.
6. More than ever we could “see” the big picture

Would love some perspective, feedback, pushback, perspective about how this might be more helpful for us and/or helpful for others begining alternative approaches and trying to measure effectiveness.



  1. thanks for the link!

    I’m also “heavily influenced by guys like Alan Hirsch and Neil Cole.” In fact, we interviewed Alan for the Praxis Podcast that I cohost this past summer – here’s a link –

    What did you use to build the map PDF? I liked it a lot and would love to do something like that for our campus ministry.


  2. Hey Aaron…

    it is something we’re still developing, that was an initial sketch. We’re going to work more in refining it over Christmas break. I’ll shoot you a note then.

    However, one of our board members had a great idea to refine it, using a color scheme to chart growth, or health of groups/partnerships.


  3. […] Campus Ministry can be found right here (on measuring success by the future, from Jim Musser) and here (on an evaluation tool Tim Hawkins calls “missional mapping”). Meanwhile, Joe Blanchard […]

  4. Thank you for the link Tim.
    When trying to get a “feel” for how effective a college ministry is, I’ve had a hard time avoiding the question, “How big is your ministry.”
    Again, I’m not sure it’s a fair question considering the all the different variables each CM encounters on their campus. But like Tim said in this post, that’s the background we come from.
    This question comes naturally.
    I’ll try to change it up by asking, “how many students on average do you minister to on a weekly bases?” Then I’ll follow that up with, “how many of those students would you say are ‘regular attenders’?” But it missing the point (I’m planning to continue this topic on our blog).
    I just checked out the SojourMissionalMapping example. I look forward to learning more about it. Thanks!

  5. […] Tim Hawkins on a “missional mapping” evaluation tool […]

  6. […] Evaluating College Ministry Success has been growing momentum thanks to people like Benson Hines, Tim Hawkins, and others (go here for a complete list). A recent post on this subject from the Heart of Campus […]

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