Skip to content
Home » Global Planning: 1966-1975

Global Planning: 1966-1975

Summary: This is the first of two articles that explore our progress in global planning, carrying the story forward into the 1980s. Two overall trends are evident: First, planning deliberately moves to more local levels as we decentralized, and, second, the setting of numerical targets declined, especially after 1975. From 1982, strategic planning was largely shaped in ethno-religious blocs, with tactical planning becoming more reliable in our partnering countries. As we contextualized, planning became less rigid, and more responsive to cultural norms. The careful assessment of recent trends assumed much more importance as a guide to the future.


Background and Context
Multiplying Laborers for Global Work
World Regional Directors Conference, 1968
Divisional Directors Conference, 1969
Global Strategy Development, 1970s
Ten-Year Plan, 1970
Our Global Situation, 1970s
Toward a More Flexible Model of Leadership, 1974
Formation of Global Team, 1975
Tensions with Using Data to Measure Progress
Attachment: Our Objectives, 1966

Background and Context

From at least our Overseas Policy Conference in 1961, we took global planning seriously. We decided at that time that we were going to demonstrate “producing reproducers” rather than to loan staff to other agencies. We also saw the need to prioritize the nations and, as best we could, to staff them with small teams instead of one couple per country. These two factors made it imperative to exercise great care in the investment of our limited resources.

During the next five years, we continued to sharpen our focus. “Reproducers” faded, to be replaced by the biblical term “laborers.”

Let’s pick up the story in 1966. The objective statement of The Navigators as of November 1966 was: “To Help Fulfill the Great Commission by Multiplying Laborers.”

This objective was supported by eighteen points of interpretation, so that the meaning might be well understood. This is an elaborate example of Lorne Sanny’s passion for clarity. These points are attached to this article, because they reveal the texture that was woven into the objective. Especially relevant, for this article, were the following points:

  • The Great Commission: A responsibility of all believers
  • Recognition of gifts
  • Necessity of teams, working together
  • Focus: young men between eighteen and thirty
  • Emphasis on serving others, beyond The Navigators
  • Reproduction to the third generation1
  • Evaluation by results

In the following month, the directors met for twelve days.2 Among their conclusions was an outline of “the direction of the Navs in the next five years,” which was a relatively fluid assemblage of desires, plans, and proposals. Most of the directors put forward two- and five-year plans for their parts of the world, but these “plans” were in fact largely objectives.

A helpful aspect was that the directors had before them the conclusions of the February 1961 OPC and the June 1964 Overseas Directors Conference, so that there was a tangible sense of continuity and progress into the nations. However, our leaders had wrestled in depth with our objective in the years immediately following the OPC. The OPC Objective was: “to contribute to the fulfillment of the Great Commission by producing reproducers in every nation” and our derivative objective for the 1960s would be “to demonstrate producing reproducers in the countries where we decide to operate.”

Then, the lengthy debate at our Training Policy Conference in September 1963 circled around the phrase “producing reproducers.” Was this a means or the end? Was there such a person as a producer of reproducers? Producer was not a scriptural word. Sanny admitted that he had been restless: “I have never felt producing reproducers was our objective.3 I agree with this idea and am sold on it with everything I have. But it is difficult for me to get hold of a picture of this product . . .”

The ensuing discussion at the Training Policy Conference was lengthy and strenuous. It is explored in depth in my article on “Our Contribution: 1960s.”

Thus, by 1966 we find the objective quoted at the beginning of this article. “Laborers” has replaced “reproducers.”4

Multiplying Laborers for Global Work

In March 1967, Lorne Sanny laid out our corporate objectives for the three years ending in 1969. The first of these was “to develop and initiate a system of planning objectives, measuring results, and appraising progress as it related directly to our objective of multiplying laborers.”5

Therefore, at the December 1967 directors conference,6 we “initiated an evaluation of the progress of our worldwide work towards the objective of multiplying laborers.”7 Lorne, in his report to our staff after this conference, wrote:8

We made great strides in learning how to evaluate our progress towards accomplishing our objective.

Though there are isolated instances of “four generations,” no country outside the US has yet demonstrated producing reproducers to our satisfaction as a Navigator work (see our 1961 Ten-Year Objectives9). However, four countries now have significant numbers of third generation nationals (fourth generation, if you count the Nav representative).

Disciple-makers and producers of disciple-makers are costly in people, time, and money. Let’s not lose any of them! It looks as though it will take six-to-ten years to demonstrate disciple-makers in a given country—that is, if we are going to build solidly.

Lorne added that Waldron Scott (also known as Scotty) had pointed to 1983 as “the next big date in Navigator history—the year of our fiftieth anniversary,” and wrote to our staff:

At that time—fifteen years from now—we should be set for the major contribution we believe God would have us make toward world evangelization . . .

In the past, God has given us a growth rate of about 15 percent per year. This, we have set as a guide for the future. Remember that this is on the basic premise that God called us to ‘grow our own’—grow into business rather than go into business . . . Deuteronomy 7:22 . . .

. . . from the above guidelines—scripture and God’s leading in the past—fifteen years from now we should be well set in twenty-five to thirty regions around the world with a projected 815 full-fledged representatives.10

In the same letter to our staff, Lorne added that “there seem to be three stages to the Navigator ministry in a country:

  • Stage 1: Demonstrate producing disciple-makers; experience shows that this will take six-to-ten years if we are going to build solidly.
  • Stage 2: Send representatives to other countries. In the twenty-two countries where we are now working, the US is carrying the main responsibility for providing men and money. In another three-to-five years, we will begin to see significant numbers of non-Americans becoming Nav representatives, some of these going to other countries from their homelands.
  • Stage 3: Significant impact in the country itself. This is still ten-to-fifteen years away, in the US and worldwide. When this stage is reached . . . we will be in a position to use US manpower to make an impact in the US—and each country will be heading toward the same objective.

During the directors’ conference in December 1967, participants had before them “Objectives at December 1966” which were actually set out (for each country) as two-year and five-year plans. These plans did not directly set targets for ministry production. Instead, they focused on what might be called operational expectations. Here, for example, is the two-year plan for the Netherlands:11

  • Two area works
  • Two going contact points
  • Streamlined office
  • Navigator courses in Dutch
  • Thrusts into France
  • Strengthen public relations with church

However, PAN was an exception, in that it did contain production targets. Here, for example, is the two-year plan for Malaysia:12

  • Conserve fruit of evangelism and recruit available converts
  • Recruit and train from among Christian sources: minimum goal—six disciples
  • Develop Philip Tan
  • Contribute to local church programs and other works. City-wide crusade in November 1967.

We may note, in passing, that the Directors Conference was soon followed by a Regional-Area Training Seminar (RATS), led by Rod Sargent. One-hundred and ten men were present. As an example of progressive decentralizing, Lorne told the staff:

John Crawford observed that ten years ago, when the area representatives met in Athens, Texas, the headquarters men spoke and the area men listened. At this conference, the area men spoke and the headquarters men listened! Personally, I feel this reversal is very healthy. The men on the front lines should be sharing principles from hard-fought battles.13

World Regional Directors Conference, 1968

The World Regional Directors Conference took place a year later, in November 1968. It ran for sixteen days, Lorne having declared in advance that it would be “the most significant single conference in Navigator history.”14 Dr. Howard Hendricks sat in on the conference as an observer and coach.

After the WRDC ended, Lorne told the staff15 that:

. . . the conference was eminently useful and significant progress was made in numerous areas. . . . The fact that thirty of us . . . sat and talked with one another face-to-face for two and a half weeks can’t help but promote personal understanding. This is so important for the thorough unity that will help us survive the stresses which are sure to come.

Lorne added:

We were able to discuss fundamental, significant and sometimes controversial subjects as mature brothers in Christ. . . . We agreed that we need a long-range strategy, a staff-development program with teeth in it, a clearer philosophy of recruiting and training men, better means of evaluating our progress, etc.

We did not leave with complete unity of mind on all issues. Subsequent feedback indicates that a number departed confused, some expressed disappointment, and several felt some conference decisions were a retrogression.

The most deep-seated disagreements were in some areas of the Nav objective, long-range strategy, training methods and philosophy. . . . We do not yet know how to develop a long-range strategy. Still, significant progress was made in knowing better what a strategy is and how to arrive at one. We did begin developing a long-range plan. Scotty’s thorough-going paper was a great stimulus to us in this direction.

We have come a long way . . . and we have a long way to go.

A distinction between plan and strategy is made above. This needed to be further explored. Lorne responded favorably to Jack Mayhall’s urging that our written objective should be stated in such a way that it could be used as a teaching tool: “He’s right, so I am working on that.”16

Major Papers at the WRDC

Major papers17 included in the agenda for the November 1968 WRDC included:

  • “Principles of Training” by Leroy Eims (nine pages)
  • “Training and Evaluation of Disciples to Makers of Disciple Makers” by Doug Sparks (seventeen pages)
  • “Management” by Jim Downing18 (twenty-one pages)
  • “Supervision” by Jim Downing (seven pages)

Jim’s paper on “Management” refers to Lorne’s use of the acrostic POLE: Plan, Organize, Lead, Evaluate.

Definitions of Navigator Terms

In addition, participants were given a set of twelve definitions, of which the most significant for our purposes are:

Contact: One involved in the Navigator ministry through publications, conferences, giving, group or team functions.

Disciple: A producer . . . one who has the basics (Navigator Wheel) established in his life.

Disciple-Maker: Reproducer19 . . . one who can win a man to Christ and establish him as a disciple.

Maker of Disciple-Makers: Producer of reproducers . . . one who has demonstrated reproduction either corporately or individually to the fourth generation.

Inside Man: A person available to open doors of ministry in a manpower pool.

Contact Staff: One who is a potential Nav representative and is placed in a contact point for the purpose of proving his own ability to produce.20

Representative: One appointed by the president to speak and act on behalf of the organization.

Nav Laborer: A disciple raised up by The Navigators and involved in the Great Commission. His life would especially emphasize the Word and a concern for individuals.21

Number of Navigator Reps

By the date of this WRDC in November 1968, recent progress in overall numbers of Navigator representatives had been:

December 1966: 77
December 1967: 88 (+14 %)
November 1968: 98 (+12 %)

Waldron Scott’s Presentation

There was also a presentation by Waldron Scott that was the forerunner of his 1972 presentation of “A Strategy for the 70s.” This vital topic was introduced in a somewhat anodyne fashion as conference purpose 5: “to plan and coordinate future objectives, strategy and activities,” marked on a lengthy agenda as one of six aspects of planning. “Nav strategic plan to cover the world—paper by Scott.” Thus, gently, was our global planning launched!

Scott had in mind something quite visionary. His aim was “to suggest an overall strategy for the worldwide work of The Navigators during the period 1969–1983, and to do so in the larger context of the entire last third of the twentieth century.”22 Specifically, Scotty projected that we would need seven hundred representatives by 1983, in predetermined locations around the world, who in turn would spearhead the raising up of 6,450 makers of disciple-makers by 2000.23

Whence did this strategy emerge? Scott quoted Lorne Sanny as having recently declared: “We are going for broke! The Navigators aim to make a significant impact on the whole world in our time.” This affirmation of scriptures such as Isaiah 49:6, and Romans 1:5, and Matthew 28:19 was all that Scott needed. It was well in line with his own disposition and dreams.

This first strategy was fleshed out and argued for across thirty-seven pages24 and, significantly, it served as a rehearsal for the full elaboration which he presented as “A Strategy for the 70s” four years later.25

It was suggested that a couple of alternative approaches be explored during 1969. There was agreement26 that we should develop a three-year plan, updated every year, as a prelude to formalizing a long-range strategy.

It was noted that an emerging global strategy would give space, as indicated above, to the US Navs to develop their own plans appropriate to their needs. This may seem neither obvious nor realistic given that specific planning might seem to limit the discretionary space of the US Navs. However, it was an early aspect of the emerging differentiation between the US work and our global partnership. Though certainly constrained (e.g. sending one in two Reps), the reality that the US was a plannable Nav unit just as other countries would soon be (though vastly different in scale) was a revolution in our thinking. It led in the early 1970s to a separation between IHQ and USHQ and, further ahead, to the overall construct of a global society which would be fully fleshed out twenty years later.

It was suggested that a couple of alternative approaches to Scott’s proposal should be explored in 1969. At this stage, it is not clear whether this was activated.

In summary, “Scotty’s thorough-going paper was a great stimulus to us as we began developing a long-range plan.”

Responses noted at the time from those present made several interesting points. There was indeed a consensus that we needed a global strategy but some hesitations such as:

  • Keep it flexible: our history teaches this
  • MDMs too complicated: is this feasible?
  • “Profound impact” (page 12): too messianic
  • Instead, let’s trust God for impact as we go
  • A break from the past in which we operated on the basis of demonstration, rather than on potential
Summary of WRDC Papers

In a summary of papers introduced at this WRDC, there were some profound observations about our US work:

We have no overall plan for the work in the US, let alone for the whole world. For instance, Nav works in the US are opened in one region without any consideration being given to the fact that a more strategic place may be available in another region. Thus, we can grossly misuse manpower.

Men are picked off for overseas assignment from any place, at any time, seemingly unrelated to an overall strategy. As a result, the factory is continually forced to make changes in the production line. . . . Also, the worldwide unity of the Navs is being affected because personnel moves are not . . . understood by all of those involved in the decision.

. . . We have a tendency to succumb to the ‘personnel needs’ of the work, which causes us to harvest ‘premature fruit’ organizationally. The current trend is to state a policy of ‘growing into business’ yet to practice a policy of ‘going into business’.

. . . Having no worldwide strategy with a meaningful interpretation to each area or region, we will continue to function on a crisis basis of decision making regarding personnel. But, in the establishment of a worldwide strategy, those responsible for the US ministries would be included in the long-range overseas plans of expansion. This would result in orderly growth both at home and abroad and thus avoid the current ‘power struggle competition’ underlying our personnel decisions. Such orderly growth would produce, perhaps, fewer staff in the immediate future but greater depth of character, stature and spiritual maturity in the lives of the men upon whom we ‘lay hands.’27

Another such summary was on the topic of unity and contained a significant paragraph: “We are developing various schools of thought. Each is producing men in its own way, each producing loyal followers, but each also a bit suspicious of the other and fearful that we or they are losing the vision. . . . I feel a need for the voice of authority to lay clear ground rules and objectives. . . . A study, summary and conclusion should be drawn by the authoritative voices of The Navigators as to what we call ‘the vision.’

Such concerns, of course, led eventually into the teaching of the FOM in the late 1970s.

Other papers prepared for the WRDC in 1968 had some bearing on our approach to strategy. Two, especially:

  • Jerry Bridges on “The One Greatest Current Need in The Navigators”
  • Bob Boardman on “The Greatest Strength in The Navigators Today.”

Bridges traced five significant ventures of faith in our history, each of which had rallied our staff and significantly altered the face of our work. For him, the greatest need was “a new, gigantic venture of faith that will challenge, unify and rally the entire worldwide staff of the Navs.”

For Bob, our greatest strength was the men whom God had given us in places of leadership, namely our Representatives. It followed that the further development of these men was essential.

Now, to trace the ensuing four years, it may be helpful, first, as we move into an intense period of global planning, to look at the distribution of our Reps.28

See Table 1: Distribution of Navigator Reps

In June 1969, Lorne told the staff that the term “divisional directors” would be used for Sparks (EMA); Scott (PAN); Mayhall (Northern US and Eastern Canada); Eims (Western US and Canada); and Gray (Southern US including Mexico and Costa Rica). Jim Petersen in Brazil would continue to report to Lorne.

Divisional Directors Conference, 1969

The divisional directors next met in November 1969. Lorne had told them that “the primary objectives of this conference are to evaluate where we are in the worldwide work, to determine where we should be, and to institute a Management by Objectives program for the future.” We would work on:

. . . establishing some clear, measurable senior objectives for the overall Nav work for the next year, the next three years, and the next five years. With these senior objectives in mind, we will develop a job description for a divisional director and set objectives for each division. Theoretically, the divisional objectives cannot be set until the organization’s senior objectives are determined. The most helpful formula, and the one we hope to use in the conference for setting objectives, is to state them as follows: To (action verb), (desired results), by (date), cost not to exceed29 $ . . .

So, here we see the formal birth among us of Management by Objectives (MBO),30 which had already been gestating for some months.

Planning was seen as having four benefits:

  • Making better use of men, money, and opportunities
  • Aiding our decision-making
  • Making coordinated effort possible
  • Providing a vehicle for participating and communicating

Already, several vital principles had been embraced:

  • Plan with people, not for people
  • The process is as important as the emerging plan
  • Develop programs for action, not merely forecasts
  • Planning should be a continuous process

The divisional directors were explicit about the sovereignty of God in their process: They embraced Proverbs 16:9 and 19:21.

As they set their sights on eventually “making disciples and developing disciple-makers in all the world,” it is remarkable that they already defined the world as “cultures, races, nationalities, languages.”31 This reflects the diversity that we see in the book of Revelation. Thinking in terms of countries alone would be inadequate, even though the political constraints of the modern world are prominent.

The team decided that our key word for the 1970s would be “sending.” In other words, our commitment to all nations would be a decisive influence on our planning. This, as we shall see, caused almost unbearable stress within a few years, but it was made in a spirit of shared sacrifice.

One can pick up the faith-filled exuberance that our leaders exhibited at the start of the decade. For example, a personnel policy stated that RDs would recruit and train “Reps by the hundreds” and Reps in turn would develop “disciple-makers by the thousands.” Zeal was buttressed by sacrifice, in that these policies also stated that sending countries will “allocate 50 percent of the Reps for overseas assignments, after the first three Reps.”

Global Strategy Development, 1970s

“A Strategy for the 70s” had been first discussed as a general concept by the divisional directors in 1968. In broad terms, it could be said that the 1960s had focused on demonstrating, the 1970s would focus on sending. The major thrust was to be raising up staff: seven hundred Reps by 1983, and a proposed distribution of these Reps around the world was included.32 The divisional directors agreed in November 1969 that the embryonic strategy should be global and that we should build through three successive stages of ministry33 in each country: In–From–To.

We assumed that a country would be ready to move into stage 2 when it had more than four potential Reps, twenty to thirty disciple-makers, and one hundred disciples.

We then affirmed that we had two general approaches: “grow and go,” which together made up the Navigator movement:

The Grow Plan . . . concentrated
1. Good seed
2. Pools of manpower
3. Evangelize
4. Follow-up
5. Train
6. Spread

The Go Plan . . . broader
1. Correspondence courses
2. Home Bible studies
3. General conferences
4. Church ministries
5. Publications

Another plank in our planning and assessment, agreed to by the divisional directors in November 1969, was adopting unified profiles for representatives, disciple-makers, and Nav disciples. A wise distinction was later made between profiles34 for disciples and disciple-makers, and requisites for Reps and other staff positions. In other words, only with our staff could we require certain characteristics.

One of the assumptions articulated at this gathering was that, “Until we learn something new, we will be dependent on official Nav reps as the key our strategy.”35

Before we could proceed to a responsible and detailed global strategy, it had proved necessary to identify certain basic assumptions. Some of these are worth setting out, because they well communicate the ways in which we were thinking about our place in the family of God. They show both our ambitions and some of our limitations. Thus:

  • We can assume that our future growth will be comparable to our past.
  • We will need many bases providing men and money: this implies a multinational staff.
  • We expect to stimulate the production of disciples far beyond our own formal organization.
  • Teams are vital for accomplishing our objectives: they may or may not be staff.
  • We can identify strategic locations and situations, given the right information.

Such assumptions are in fact rather precarious because “the right information” is often unavailable and it can be said with some assurance that our future growth, as a rate of increase per year, would not keep pace with our past growth. The compounding year-by-year of a high rate of increase would be beyond our reach. However, we will again see this assumption implicit in our ten-year corporate plan.

Perspectives of Divisional Directors

When the divisional directors met with Sanny in May 1970, they had before them an outline of what good planning should be. The purpose of planning was “to determine where we want to go, when and how.”36 They decided that the chief aim of The Navigators, internationally, would be to develop new sending countries so that we might progressively become a “worldwide partnership” in reaching the nations for Christ.

Our definition of a sending country evolved during those years. Here are the criteria as presented to the divisional directors’ conference in May 1971:

  • Two or three Representatives, nationals
  • Five or six potential area representatives, nationals
  • Twenty to twenty-five disciple-makers
  • Between one hundred and 150 Nav disciples
  • Plus a constituency able to provide a financial base

We were again very conscious of depending upon the Lord, as urged in Proverbs 16:9 and 19:21. Three ingredients were highlighted:

  • Make it an action plan, not simply a forecast
  • Make it a continuous process
  • Plan with people, not for people

However, it was our inability to fully discharge the third ingredient that would cause us later to draw back from global planning. MBO, when well-followed, should emphasize participation.

Under the heading “A Plan for Planning,” a sequence of four aspects was presented:

  1. Objectives, worthwhile and attainable
  2. Planning facts and assumptions
  3. Setting up courses of action
  4. Evaluating and adjusting programs of action

Ten-Year Plan, 1970

Although Sanny’s position was that “you have planned when there exists a clear statement of objectives and a workable program for their accomplishment,” it was the former that took pride of place. Thus, the ten-year plan that emerged at the end of the May 1970 conference was very bold and simple:


To create a broad enough base geographically and deep enough in personnel and support to carry the Navigator ministry into every nation of the world in the 1980s.


  1. Increase number of Nav Reps by 15 percent per year worldwide so as to total at least 462 as we begin 1980.
  2. Produce an annual ratio of new disciple-makers to Reps of at least five to one.
  3. Produce an annual ratio of new disciples to Reps of at least twelve to one.
  4. Increase gift income by 25 percent per year.
  5. Develop eighteen new Nav Rep sending countries.
  6. Begin an official Navigator work in twenty new countries.
  7. Build up a staff of eighty regional directors.
  8. Build up a staff of ten divisional directors.

These objectives—rates and ratios—were undoubtedly measurable. They were also remarkably ambitious, which of course chimed with the visionary Aim. They placed a strong focus upon the most powerful ingredients for numerical success: disciple-makers (laborers) to deepen our grassroots ministries and Reps to lead us into new locations. It is good to note that there was no attempt to project how many might come to Christ. However, this short statement was not, as the title claimed, a plan. In other words, Sanny’s “workable program to accomplish” this Aim was not yet developed. This would have to wait until the introduction of “A Strategy for the 70s” in 1972.

Sustaining a 15 percent per year worldwide increase in Nav Reps was linked to the development of sending countries. Lorne told the staff in June 1970 that “the first three representatives produced in our countries will work in their homeland, then the countries will send 50 percent of their subsequent national representatives elsewhere.”

The target of eighty regional directors seems extraordinary. However, it was taken seriously for at least a year: Sparks produced a paper on how this might be accomplished,37 but the conversation had moved on. As of the year 2000, we were structured with the equivalent of less than a dozen regional directors, each responsible for a geographical region.

What are we to make of this? Given that the declared priority was sending, the question of where new missionaries should be sent is naturally central, and the question of what they should do when they arrived is either assumed to be obvious (multiply laborers) or is left to local arrangements. By and large, missionary representatives were assumed to be making a long-term commitment to their receiving countries. This, after all, was in accord with the classic spirit which had animated hearts since the heroic days of the nineteenth century.

Sanny’s Thoughts on Planning

A few months later, Lorne thought it wise to give the staff38 his general thoughts on the subject of planning. Thus:

You have planned when you have a clear statement of objectives and a program of activities for their accomplishment.

We believe in participatory planning. Persons to be involved in carrying out the plans should be involved in their formulation as much as possible.

Why have objectives? So you know where you are going and so you can have a basis of evaluation later on.

Suppose we don’t meet those objectives. What do we do? Berate ourselves? No! We simply begin to ask ourselves questions as to ‘why. Were our goals too high? Did we use all our resources? Were our methods faulty? Did we really pray? . . . From the answers to these questions, we do new planning, with new goals and new programs. There is a never-ending cycle of planning, doing, evaluating.

Attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God. How can we expect great things unless we pray? ‘Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’

At the start of 1971, Sanny introduced a concept39 that would play a significant role in our planning through the 1970s and beyond:

Let’s broaden out. Pray for a ‘basic work force’ of thousands of non-staff disciple-makers (Navigators!) who will join us as fellow travelers in the best sense of that word: ‘one who sympathizes with and furthers the ideals and program of an organized group without membership in the group or necessarily participating in all its activities.’ This basic work force concept could be a key to the disciple-making movement we talk about.

The ten-year plan was buttressed by more detailed ministry and supportive objectives for the first three years of the decade: January 1970 to August 1972. As regards ministry objectives for these three years, we find for the first time an adjustment that allowed for a 3 percent annual loss of representatives, “to develop sixty-nine new area Reps to total 174, assuming a loss of nine.” Twenty-nine new missionaries (area Reps) would be sent out and countries to be opened were Spain, France, Finland, Iran, Uganda, Taiwan.40

As regards supportive objectives, two of these supportive objectives would come to occupy our international leaders for much of the decade:

  • To develop a “Strategy for the 70s.” For this, the point person would become Scott.
  • To formulate and communicate a philosophy of Nav ministry. For this, the point person would become Jim Petersen.

In May 1970, our first New Staff Institute took place at the Glen, with fifty-four present. Purposes included:

  • To promote the friendship and unity of the Nav family
  • To ensure comprehensive understanding of The Navigators International, its history, philosophy, aims, policies, plans
  • To help in the development of the personal life, family life, and ministry

Our Global Situation, 1970s

To gain some perspective, we should summarize the stage that The Navigators had reached when the directors sat down to discuss Scott’s strategy at the end of 1972:

  • We were in twenty-seven countries.
  • Our Representatives had grown from eight in 1948 to 187 in 1972 with approximately half stationed in the US, and 83 percent of all Representatives were Americans, the rest coming from a dozen other nationalities.
  • Our staff were ministering on 106 campuses and 118 military bases in the US plus forty-five bases in Okinawa and Germany. Coincidentally, we had staff on another 106 campuses in the rest of the world. Our income had reached some $6 million of which 90 percent came from the US.41

The divisional directors met in May of 1972 for a brief session to clear the ground for what would dominate their December meeting, namely “A Strategy for the 70s,” largely authored by Scott. They knew that it would contain a fairly radical and comprehensive approach to the allocation of staff missionaries around the world. However, they were to be given much more than they anticipated!

We already had in place our skeletal but challenging ten-year corporate plan, as above, which laid out some overall target rates and ratios.

What Scott set out to do was to resolve “the most effective allocation of men, money, and other resources on a worldwide basis.”42 It was an ambitious start on wrestling with an issue that would continue to occupy us. Understandably, we have never had sufficient resources for the task at hand.

What Sanny expected from Scott, who was excellently equipped to provide it, was a proposal on which countries we should concentrate in the 1970s. However, what Scott produced was much more: a remarkable document.43 It opened with the words:

The aim of this paper is to suggest an overall strategy for the worldwide work of The Navigators during the last quarter of this century, with special reference to the decade 1973–1983, the latter date marking the fiftieth anniversary of The Navigators.44

After acknowledging God’s goodness to us during the past forty years and warning lest we assume that “my power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17), the text went on to declare that: “The central idea . . . is to so position Nav staff in key places around the world by 1983 as to enable us to make a truly significant impact for Christ on our world by the year 2000.”

This “truly significant impact” was envisioned as the establishment of disciple-multiplying ministries in every nation and included the concept of “extensive” ministries, “The outline and scale of which are admittedly less clear to us now.”

Scott’s comprehensive approach included clarifying assumptions, determining best opportunities, identifying resources available, suggesting alternatives and relating all of this to the needs of our home ministries in our sending countries. He knew that it was necessary to offer a menu of alternatives, in what might now be called scenario planning. Scriptures such as Proverbs 16:3, 16:9, and 19:21 were again used.

Though the strategy appeared complex, indeed grandiose, we should bear in mind the limited time horizon of the actual document: “Our idea . . . is so to position Nav staff in key places around the world by 1983.” Ten brief years! Numerically, the strategy proposed placing a minimum of 650 representatives in pre-determined locations by 1983. Scott deemed this sufficient subsequently to produce a total of 6,500 representatives by the year 2000. The significance of this is that it would average one Nav Rep (and associated workers) for every one million persons in the world at the turn of the century.

Much later, in the 1990s, many evangelical organizations produced plans for finishing the task (Matthew 24:14) by reaching (often cooperatively) all but the smallest unreached peoples. There was an onrush of enthusiasm that peaked perhaps around 1997 after which it became clear that the prophecy of our Lord could not humanly be accomplished by 2000. However, as best I can determine, “our” 1972 strategy was conceived some twenty years prior to most of these plans; yet, we also fell far short. Nor did we attach a special significance to the millennium.

Scott’s first move was to divide the world into a dozen major population zones, within each of which “key countries are selected for development as “power bases” and “sending nations.” The development of ministries in these countries is to be the chief objective of The Navigators during the period 1973–1983.”

And how would we identify these “key countries?” By setting scales for fifteen strategic factors in each country that, scored and taken together, would indicate sending potential and provide a balanced ethnic-racial mix. . . . The expectation being that the thirty-five to forty countries thus selected would become our base of expansion into the remaining one hundred or more countries in the 1980s and 1990s.

More than any of our other leaders at that time, Scott had a drive to create “a truly international and multi-national staff.” He recommended that 10 percent of our US staff be assigned to develop ministries among American Blacks with a parallel emphasis in Canada on work among the Quebecois. Then, in a classic understatement, he observed that “leadership requirements demanded by the strategy will be moderate to heavy.” A similar comment could be made about his financial projections, but we will not look at these because shifting exchange rates and volatile inflation soon undermined the careful financial projections presented in US dollars. The emerging community ministries, it was assumed, would significantly enhance the flow of gift income available for our mission, but it also reduced the availability of new missionary Reps. Ambitious indeed!

Elements of the “Strategy for the 70s”

It is worth pausing to bring out several aspects of this strategy that were not always appreciated at the time, partly because of the complex menu of options (timetables, rates, ratios) that Scott included. Thus:

  • The strategy was prescient, with a time horizon of ultimately thirty years and a way of thinking about the resources that would be needed (e.g. one Rep per million in 2000) that was not generally seen in other missions agencies until the approach of the year 2000.
  • The strategy was flexible, designed so that interlocking adjustments could be made as we went along.
  • The strategy embodied Scott’s strong commitment to the mixing of the nations, the better to approach the “peoples, languages, tribes, nations” of which we read frequently in the book of Revelation. He aimed for “a truly international and multi-national staff” and envisioned that about 45 percent of our staff would be non-Americans by 1983.45
  • The strategy anticipated that our stronger sending countries would, after the 1980s, be able if desired “to allot up to 25 percent of their total resources in men and money to developing church and laymen’s ministries.”
  • The strategy was not as hard on the US as was sometimes assumed. Indeed, the “send 50 percent”46 of new Reps spoken of in the late 1960s was reduced eventually in the strategy to “send 30 percent, 25 percent, or even 20 percent.” However, Scotty firmly believed that the US should continue to provide a sacrificial level of finances for the rest of the world.

He ended his short introduction, as sketched above, with a succinct list of sixteen crucial issues prompted by the strategy, any one of which could immerse us in passionate debate.

As they left Glen Eyrie for Christmas that December of 1972, it is fair to assume that most of those present did not yet see clearly the implications of adopting such a strategy. There was too much to absorb, too many alternative routes to the ultimate aim—even if they had all accepted it.

As 1973 began, the resident team around Lorne was: Jim Downing, vice-president; Rod Sargent, financial director; Waldron Scott, field director; Walt Henrichsen, personnel director.

In his first “Dear Staff” letter of the new year, he provided for our staff how we had progressed against the three-year objectives established in 1970 and laid out our ministry objectives for the three years starting in September 1972. Among them, the crucial objective on new sending countries included Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Lebanon, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Sweden. The pressure was on!

Corporate Planning Conference, 1973

A year later, after much dialogue, the divisional directors came together again for a corporate planning conference in December 1973 and made some moves towards simplicity and wider participation. The most important was a decision to invite country leaders to submit annual national strategies.47 Herein was the “top-down bottom-up” process that Sanny advocated. Furthermore, the parameters were loosened by withdrawing all target ratios and by adding “as God enables us.”48

Thus, each of our countries worked hard to provide a “country plan summary” for the 1974 international strategy conference. Note the transitional language: both a plan for the future and a summary of the present. In fact, the format of these plan summaries was not yet sensible, in that it showed the current year followed by projections for the next four years, a long leap from a standing start. Result? Projections more than say two years out were quite unreliable and, predictably, tended to be far too optimistic. One example: Australia had gift income of A$145,000 in 1973 to 1974 but anticipated that this would rise to A$416,000 by 1977 to 1978.

Sending Country Profile

This may be the place to record that, as we started in 1974, we had a revised and more precise profile of a sending country.


A country which has a Navigator ministry sufficiently developed to supply Nav Representatives and related personnel for other countries.


  • Three national Representatives serving within their own country
  • Six potential contact staff
  • Forty disciple-makers
  • One hundred twenty-five Nav disciples
  • A constituency providing adequate financial support in accord with international finance policies.

This was a period in our history when crossing a measurable threshold qualified a person or a country as “successful.” The UK was the first to qualify as a sending country.49 Next in line was the Netherlands.

It would not be long before the pressure to develop sending countries was absorbed into a more natural rate and pattern of growth.

In order to “bulk up” certain countries for faster progress toward qualifying as sending countries, at least three doublets had been declared: Australia-New Zealand, Singapore-Malaysia, Norway-Sweden. This gambit was challenged at the December 1973 CPC.50

Doug Sparks (EMA) explained that combination was sometimes sensible because of the sparsity of college target areas, as in East Africa. Also, he had combined Norway and Sweden because “he thought that they would get more men . . .” He now agreed with Simmons (PAN) that it would be healthier to keep countries separate.

In July 1974, Doug drafted a paper for the divisional directors entitled, “Where in the World are we Going?” The paper offered guidelines in determining when to send missionaries from developing countries, on the assumption that they would not be able to do so unless given considerable financial assistance from other countries. He began by pointing out that the sending of any missionary to another country:

  • Increases his cost and decreases his revenue-earning capacity (financial)
  • Increases the pressures upon him (emotional)
  • Decreases his ministry effectiveness in most instances (functional)

In fact, Doug wrote, “the sending of missionaries to developed countries—at approaching US $100,000 per term—is the largest repetitive investment decision that we face.”

He also submitted a paper on “Progressive Planning” which he defined as “deciding where you want to go, where you are, and what are the stages it takes to get there. It is the policy of proceeding toward a desired end by gradual stages.” His paper was designed to complement the work already done and to supply detailed proposals on stages of ministry and recommend what should be anticipated at each stage. At that time, Doug was basing his EMA Divisional Strategy on the promise of Genesis 22:17-18.

Corporate Planning Conference and Financial Management, 1974

A corporate planning conference was held in August 1974, chaired by Jack Mayhall. It had a specific focus on finances and financial management…with the aim of improving and understanding and promoting unity as regards financial matters. Financial policies were to be reviewed and the financing of nationals was to be carefully explored.51

When the divisional directors met again at the International Strategy Conference (ISC) which took place at the end of October 1974, they and their staff were still negotiating and challenging several aspects of the strategy. The implications had sunk in as regards the demands for resources. We should remember, however, that we were still thinking of our countries in a sequence of three stages: To–From–In. In other words, a country was to stretch itself to invest in the nations (“from”) in the expectation that it would later populate its own waste cities (“in”). In tension with this sequence, of course, was the already burgeoning US community ministry.

Zonal Importance and Country Rating Scales

Leading up to the October 1974 ISC, the divisional directors generally admired the central research52 that had calculated, guided by Scott, the ranking for every country, according to fourteen criteria,53 in order to project which should have the highest potential to become sending countries. However, the directors pressed for a fifteenth variable to be included, which would draw from their experience as field leaders and came to be known as “zonal importance.” The maximum achievable score on the overall rating scale was thus 115 points. On this new basis, the ten countries54 with the highest propensity to send were calculated as:

USA (103)
Canada (89)
Great Britain (84)
Australia (80.5)
Netherlands (79.5)
New Zealand (75.5)
Brazil (75.5)
West Germany (75)
Mexico (75)
Singapore (75)

One may conclude, considering the above, that the principal ministries outside the USA were rather highly scored when compared with the USA. We must remember that these scores represent not the innate strength of a ministry, but the ability to send during the period up to 1983.

Toward a More Flexible Model of Leadership, 1974

In asking our staff to pray daily during this ISC in late 1974, Sanny reviewed our recent experience in words which deserve to be quoted at length:

. . . Two years ago, though we had set goals to enter new countries and develop sending nations during the seventies, we did not have a valid way of deciding what countries to enter or with how many men. So Scotty went to work to devise a global strategy, bringing together the facts which would help us develop a plan to strategically place our staff in key places around the world by 1983. This global strategy balanced our activity in the caucasian areas, which furnished a larger number of laborers, with that in developing countries, which provide the important ethnic and racial mix for our ministry team.

This led to projecting how many men each country would produce and where those men would be sent.

In the following year, we discovered the staff worldwide was not comfortable with this overall plan. There was uneasiness about meeting goals which they had not set themselves. At our December 1973 meeting, we decided to set it aside and rebuild a complete world strategy by asking each country to come up with its own plan.

These plans are now in and have been put together and codified by Walt Henrichsen and his staff into a composite representing the realistic desires for Nav works in thirty-two countries. This composite shows a more conservative estimate of our growth: 84 percent of the growth the first global strategy predicted. The projected missionary outreach is also conservative – less than half that envisioned by the earlier plan – with more emphasis on growth within the country than on sending men to new countries.

The combined strategies project an increase of new area representatives by 15 percent per year worldwide. They also reveal that we need to do a good deal in the area of broadening the financial base.

Now as our international leadership team comes together to plan, we have reached no conclusions in advance. . . .

Our first concern will be to determine the proper balance between input from headquarters and from the field. Now that the work in so many countries is strong and growing, there can and should be more planning done at the national level. As a federation of national works united in identical goals and a single purpose, we need enough centralized guidance to maintain global priorities and to do that part of the planning which individual countries obviously cannot do. Once the roles of national and central influence have been established, we can function more smoothly as an international team.

The national strategies have been well done, and I want to heartily commend those who worked long hours to put them together. When we get through we will still have a global strategy, but one to which every country has contributed.55

Most staff, of course, did not move in the rarified circle of global planning. However, the discovery that those who did “were uncomfortable with goals that they had not themselves constructed” was a chastening insight. Though it was qualified in later years by attempts to blend national with international planning, it effectively signaled the approaching end of attempts to construct a global strategy.

Here is a harbinger of our evolution: we were beginning to move from leadership channeled through a triad of hierarchy, strategy, policies to a more flexible model in which key concepts were vision, values, relationships. This difference is important, even if I have drawn it rather baldly. It was to prove a long and winding path.

Global planning, albeit difficult, could still be pursued, but it would no longer be expressed in centrally-determined rates and ratios.

The second notable phrase was “a federation of national works united in identical goals and a single purpose.” This seminal idea of a federation stayed largely in the background until the design of our global society more than ten years later. Yet, the seed of looser and more flexible international linkages had been sown. In 1974, we did indeed have “a single purpose” in our primary Aim, but it is questionable whether our leaders would have agreed that they had identical goals. Indeed, our “global priorities” still needed much debate.

Increased Desire for an International Team

The third phrase captures a deep desire that Sanny harbored that we would function more smoothly as an international team. At that point, in 1974, we did not have a true international team—though this would be set up, as we shall see, in the following year.

What Sanny faced instead was a rather fractious and argumentative conference of some twenty-four people (note: All Americans except Joe Simmons, Chew, and Donald McGilchrist). Somewhat plaintively, his opening remarks included: “The aim of this conference is to be clear,” which was a modest but revealing aspiration!56

The five conference objectives for 1974 included, most importantly, “to refine the planning process, as it applies to The Navigators International.”

First, however, the conference had to grapple with the evident lessening in our percent per-year increases since 1972 in both people and money. Explanations varied. For the USA, Skip Gray mentioned factors such as:

  • Recent reorganization, thus “internal” sending
  • Higher maturity of missionaries being requested
  • Missionaries returning prematurely, some cross-culturally ungifted
  • Weakness in the overall US economy
  • Emergence of pilot “community ministries” in the US
  • Longer average time as contact points before becoming Representatives

In addition, it had not been well appreciated that a fixed target rate of increase, such as 15 percent per year, implied a compound growth in the actual number of people or money projected.57 This undiscussed reality was placing on us an unsustainable burden of expectations, especially when accompanied by the generally high rate of inflation for most of the decade.

The national strategies presented in 1974 referred to between twenty-four and forty-one area Reps as missionaries, contrasted with the seventy-six area Reps projected in the 1972 global strategy. This shortfall was explained by the fact that the national strategies “were primarily concerned with a national view apart from a more global view.”58 This led to a discussion on sending more international trainees: less expensive and more flexible. At a deeper level, this discussion confirmed that optimistic global projections at the center were not useful. Nor, consequently, were they motivational.

As a consequence, a large step was taken: The timetable for sending missionaries would in future be set by the national strategies, leaving only the priorities for their allocation to be determined at the center. As Sanny observed, “some kind of priority system should result.” Thus, the target of 650 area Reps by 2000—or one per million persons—was quietly dropped.

The divisional directors went further during this 1974 ISC and agreed that:

  • Evaluation, internationally, would be based primarily upon past trends
  • A moratorium on entering new countries (except India) for three years
  • Data collected in annual national strategies would be refined and simplified

At this point, it will be helpful to review how we expressed the focus59 of our calling as we entered 1975:

  • Our primary aim was to help fulfill Christ’s Great Commission by making disciples and developing disciple-makers in every nation.
  • Our chief international objective was to develop a broad and deep enough base, in personnel and support, to carry the Navigator disciple-making ministry into every nation of the world, as God enables us.

Note the phrase “as God enables us” which, as indicated, released the pressure of numerical targets applied across the range of our ministries.

Scott, who was soon to depart to lead the World Evangelical Fellowship (now Alliance), submitted four provocative statements60 to the ISC:

  • Our present statement of objectives is vague, unmeasurable and does not call us to account.
  • The divergence between the overall pattern of world evangelization as described in Acts and the general pattern of Nav operations.
  • After forty years of existence we are still operating almost totally within the confines of Christendom; that is, we are not reaching the unreached portion of mankind.
  • Because the unreached areas of the world are, by definition, churchless, we need a plan of action with respect to church planting if we commit ourselves to reaching the unreached.
Tensions about Leadership Based on Statistics

By way of contrast, Jim Petersen had for some years been warning his fellow directors about the inherent dangers of managing through statistics. At the 1974 conference, for example, he commented that projections from the top can become requirements at the bottom.61 Can we measure people without distorting the picture? We are using evaluation to inspect. The system leads to delinquency (April 1975).

There was emerging resistance among the new International Leadership Team (ILT)62 to the setting of measurable objectives and the counting of people that perforce accompanied this. Petersen had missiological reservations:

  • Written, measurable objectives are alien to most of the world. They incite us to try to change cultures, which is not within our calling.
  • Counting can impose an unhealthy conformity. People do what they are evaluated on. We may tempt them to neglect long-range viability at the expense of short-term productivity.
  • MBO is a motivational tool that appeals to our competitive nature.
  • We are imposing a commitment to a system of specifics, rather than nurturing indigeneity.

McGilchrist added some more technical concerns:

  • Numbers should be accompanied by a commentary from leaders with local knowledge.
  • Constant percentage annual increases are most unlikely.
  • Moving averages serve us better than raw numbers.
  • Projections are uncertain: thus, offer ranges or scenario planning.

Walt Henrichsen questioned whether evaluation of a ministry is a luxury not afforded to the believer by the Holy Spirit. In the Scriptures, the Spirit scatters influences so that the source is lost. For example, in 1 Corinthians 12:13-14, the gifts are spread so broadly that every person is needed but no person is indispensable. There is a danger that profiles and statistics feed human propensities that the Spirit wishes to stamp out. Furthermore, the most important matters to evaluate are those things in a person which cannot be measured, such as her heart for God.63

Another reminder of the need to be careful came from the 1974 Lausanne Covenant:

  • “. . . all agencies…should engage in constant self-examination to evaluate their effectiveness as part of the church’s mission.”
  • “We confess that we have sometimes pursued church growth at the expense of church depth . . .”
  • “Although careful studies of church growth, both numerical and spiritual, are right and valuable, we have sometimes neglected them. At other times . . . we have become unduly preoccupied with statistics or even dishonest in our use of them. All this is worldly.”64

Another warning came in an editorial in the November 5, 1976 issue of Christianity Today. Extracts:

Throughout the ages, people have had trouble handling the truth. They have tried to shape it to help themselves and to discredit adversaries. They have tried to redefine it to suit their purposes.

. . . Ministers of the Gospel are often accused of handling facts, particularly statistical ones, loosely. . . . Enough evangelists have exaggerated their attendance figures that ‘evangelically speaking’ had found its way into the language of journalists as an uncomplimentary reference.

The 1972 strategy had offered a choice of several options as regards approach and speed. The resulting trade-offs and interlocking implications were complex. The process tended to place the directors in the position of competing for resources, especially in that sacrificial sending was expected.

Finally, last but not least, this had been a strategy drawn up at the center. This feature was the main cause of it soon being set aside.

The 1974 ISC also worked on several crucial issues, including:

  • Sending country concept
  • Financing nationals
  • Concept of indigeneity
  • Country rating scale
  • Multinational teams within countries

In each of these, the procedure was to have an introductory debate after which the issue was referred to a small committee of the ISC which prepared detailed work and reviewed recommendations from various participants.

Sanny’s Five Leadership Lessons

After the conference ended, Sanny’s letter65 to our staff around the world elaborated on five succinct lessons that he was learning:

  • Loving is more important than understanding
  • Planning is painful
  • Most of the work in the world gets done by people who are tired or don’t feel very well
  • Patience is a virtue needed by young and old alike
  • This is God’s work

He distinguished planning from dreaming, affirmed that our first efforts to involve planners from each country were clumsy but well worthwhile, spoke of courage as a mental willingness to endure and, finally, quoted Romans 14:4, which says: “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand.”

Back in 1969,66 Lorne had passed on to our staff a quotation from Daws: “Decision is 5 percent . . . carrying out the decision is 95 percent.”

Soon after, in 1975, Waldron Scott went on loan to the World Evangelical Fellowship and Walt Henrichsen was confirmed as deputy to our Pacific areas (Asia and Australasia), for which Director Joe Simmons served in New Zealand.67

Formation of Global Team, 1975

The concept of a Global Team solidified when the Divisional Directors met in April 1975. A position paper for their discussion contained the following:

. . . The top leadership in The Navigators has agreed that the best route to go is to function as a global team . . . to share our resources of men and money guided by global priorities and strategic needs . . . to labor together towards common objectives. Therefore, there must be a focal point of global perspective. Only from this perspective can there be true global perspectives, the determination of global strategic needs, and the prioritizing of best resources to best opportunities. The decisions and strategic plans necessary to accomplish these goals must be made by the chief executive officer and his team. Currently, this team consists primarily of the president and four divisional directors.68

Jack Mayhall as executive vice-president was at work separating IHQ from USHQ and at that time reported to Lorne for all functions other than those within the purview of the president. In Lorne’s objectives for that period, we find that he was working at coaching the four divisional directors and Jack, and intended “to mold them together as a team.”69

Now, it will help if we summarize the evolving strategic landscape. During the first half of the 1970s, our global planning moved through three broad phases which can be summarized in this table:

Table 2: Three phases of global planning

Geographical regions or zones referred to natural groupings such as Black Africa or Latin America. This decision bore fruit eventually in the adoption of “natural” ethno-religious blocs.

The thrust of the December 1972 global strategy was unsurprising, given that Scott’s definition of a strategy was “the most effective allocation of men, money, and other resources on a worldwide basis.” Allocation leads to positioning of resources around the world, but does not address how they are to be used.

A more dynamic understanding of strategy was emerging by 1975. It embraced acquiring and deploying and use of resources. Thus, one could generalize that, in the late 1960s, we majored on acquiring (producing Reps); in the early 1970s, we majored on deploying (allocating/positioning Reps); and in the late 1970s, we should now address ourselves to the use of such Reps. In other words, to a ministry strategy.

This evolving understanding struggled to make progress against a somewhat negative background. It was clear, by 1975, that an anti-planning culture had taken root in some Navigator quarters and that the absence of a visible model of team planning and evaluation at work in practical ways had dampened enthusiasm. Field leaders were understandably confused.

Thus, when the International Leadership Team gathered in West Germany in April 1977 to consider how best to proceed, they occupied themselves more with the process of planning rather than constructing a new global plan. Some ground needed to be cleared. The discussion sought to align our assumptions. For example:

  • To be effective, a strategy should have objectives which are owned by our staff
  • Mobility and flexibility of response increase effectiveness
  • Concentration of force increases momentum
  • A good strategy will define our major rather than our exclusive focus

There was a yearning for simplicity. However, this lay in creative tension with the recognition that our strategic bias would vary to some extent with culture and stage of ministry and with the identifying of both strategic tensions (such as organization versus movement) and market tensions (such as home versus overseas). By the time feedback loops had been added, the planning process did not look exactly simple! See, for example, the interpretation of what was needed, diagramed as a flow chart.70

Tensions with Using Data to Measure Progress

The debate that swirled around our “Strategy for the 70s” led to several fruitful outcomes. One of these was a more rigorous and systematic ordering of the data on annual ministry production that our countries of ministry collected.

Previously, projections had often been made without several years of recorded production on which to base them securely. Thus, many of them were precarious, expressive of faith-filled optimism rather than evidence-based. At the extreme, there were cases where only one year of actual production was used to project the anticipated numbers for each of the next three years!

Consequently, when the data from our countries for the coming year were summed up, they could be up to 80 percent higher than the most recent year. Perhaps these were motivating prayer targets, but they were not solid ground on which to plan. Into this mix, of course, was the optimistic bent that is such a positive aspect of the American cultural profile: almost all our country leaders were still Americans.

Scenario planning71 was not practiced, nor was it normal to suggest a range when conditions were uncertain.

Projections for The Navigators as a whole were sometimes merely the result of adding all the constituent country or regional projections. This amplified any in-built distortion rather than managing it.

Here’s an example, using a progression which would need to be critiqued in light of the injunction “be sure you know the condition of your flocks.”72 How many area Reps would be appointed during 1975-1976?

  • Forecast in October 1973 plans (71)
  • Forecast in October 1974 plans (51)
  • Forecast in October 1975 plans (35)
  • Actually appointed (26)

Why be concerned? Because our international leaders continued to review progress by, inter alia, the use of numerical measures for at least another ten years, and because, by 1974, we were deliberately moving from a global strategy, in which consolidated projections could usually be adjusted, to the promotion of individual country plans.

As the years passed, there was little evidence that continual annual practice improved the quality of national projections. Let us take as an illustration the projections that countries made in the fall of 1982 of new disciple-makers that they expected to produce in 1982-1983, the year that had already begun. Nineteen countries outside the USA made such projections: in total, they projected 513 new disciple-makers and actually raised up 329 new disciple-makers. On average, therefore, their projections at the beginning of the year were 56 percent above what was accomplished during the year, as regards a variable that was at the heart of our aim and should have been relatively solid to forecast. People who become disciple-makers during any given year come from a pool that is locally identifiable by name at the beginning of the year.73

At the October 1974 ISC, frustrations with our system of evaluating ministry progress became stronger. Sanny argued for a minimalist approach, as regards what the center collects. He observed: “Evaluation is more than a tool; it is a weapon.” Furthermore, one cannot motivate by the questions one asks. If our profiles have become blueprints, he observed, then perhaps we should cease counting.

Petersen doubted whether we could measure people without distorting the picture. Instead of evaluating people, perhaps we should evaluate disciple-making ministries. At present, we were using evaluation to inspect people. Sanny added that evaluation by travelers from outside a different country needed to diminish.74 In general, they should not initiate international travel without consultation resulting in a request.75

Another aspect that was being scrutinized was our approach to training. Was it true, for example, that:

  • A Nav-trained man can do almost anything?
  • The key to movement is thorough training of those in our sphere of influence?
  • Training that produces effective Reps will also produce effective lay laborers?

Stated thus baldly, the consensus would clearly be in the negative.76

It would be wrong to leave the impression that every country began to report annually in precisely the same format, though there was increasing convergence during the 1970s. Gaps and guesses lessened. However, the spectrum ran from the impressionistic descriptions that Petersen provided from LAN to the very standardized reports that came via Sparks from the countries of EMA.

Some numbers did surface from LAN, but their principled resistance can be illustrated by Petersen’s comment, “I don’t count my friends.” This carries added legitimacy, in that the appropriate way to use statistics had not been agreed. For example:

  • As late as 1976, names of new converts from around most of the world were still being forwarded to IHQ, where they accumulated to no purpose. This was promptly discontinued!
  • In the late 1970s, the leader of one of our most developed countries—when asked why he collected statistics—responded “because IHQ wants them.”

These examples prompted the articulation of some principles. Among them: What is requested at a “higher” level should only draw from what is recognized as useful by leaders at a “lower” or more local level, and those who request information should be accustomed to explaining how and why it would be profitably used.

We came to agree that the ministry indicators globally evaluated by the ILT should be few, trans-cultural, and strategically related to our Aim. Data, in the form of statistics, are a better basis for asking questions than for drawing conclusions.

In order to provide a firmer foundation, the actual annual numbers for a range of strategic variables across time were first assembled in 1977 in a “wordless book” (Petersen). Here are a couple of samples for a crucial variable, new disciple-makers:

Table 3: Strategic Variables; New Disciple-Makers

This compilation, published every November after receiving results for the year ending August 31, was called the “Historical Series.”77 It became a valuable resource which continued until the final edition in 1987. Brief highlights, with commentary, were made available annually to our international leaders.

For some years, Lorne had spoken of envisioning a disciplined and gifted force of three hundred Representatives.78 Yet, elevating the influence of this relatively select community had a downside, which can be illustrated by a comment that Lorne made to the ILT in December 1976: “Recently, we have gone a long way toward letting the three hundred influence everything—e.g. the FOM. How can you give a clear trumpet sound when you allow all to influence?”

By Donald McGilchrist

14,143 words

See also articles on:

Overseas Policy Conference: 1961
Our Contribution: 1960s
Overseas Directors Conference: 1966
What Will The Navigators Be Like 25 Years from Now (Scott, 1966)
Some Reflections on The Navigators (Scott, 1970)
Summary of Our Strategic Thinking: 1966 – 1974
Strategic Thinking: 1970 – 1982
Management by Objectives: 1968 – 1974
Stages of Ministry
History of Counting in the Navs

Attachment Link:

“Our Objective at November 1966 (Eighteen Points)


  1. But see WRDC Definition 5 below…fourth generation.
  2. They first met at Trail West with wives, and then for business sessions at Glenview, nine participants.
  3. In the OPC 1961 conclusions, a Producer of Reproducers is understood as “one who has demonstrated reproduction either corporately or individually to the fourth generation.” Such a person is rare indeed and, as Sanny later commented, would unduly narrow our ministry.
  4. In the attached points, “reproducing” was less prominent than “multiplying.” Although they seem to be used as synonyms in points 13 and 15, it is “multiplying” that appears in the objective itself. See point 14.
  5. Sanny to our Staff of March 17, 1967. There followed 11 other Corporate Objectives. These included “expanding our staff of Representatives by 15 percent a year worldwide” and “increasing annual gift income by 15 percent a year,” although the latter rate was changed to 25 percent in 1970. As yet, there was no mention of the impact of inflation.
  6. Participants: eight men who reported to Sanny…Sargent, Sparks, Scott, Sanchez, Stephens, Downing, Crawford, Bridges.
  7. Report on Progress at WRDC.
  8. DG of December 22, 1967.
  9. The reference here is probably to the OPC listing of the most strategic countries for the 1960s and the additional missionaries that would be needed to accomplish our mission.
  10. Extracts from Sanny’s DG Letter of February 9, 1968. Reflections on Isaiah 49:6 and 54:3 omitted. On July 19, 1968, Lorne added the three basic stages in a local ministry.
  11. Then, still called Holland. Source: Directors Conference December 1967, page 20.
  12. Introduction of numbers as regards results was probably due to the influence of Scott, appointed Pacific Areas Director in February 1967. Source: loc cit, page 26.
  13. DG of January 26, 1968.
  14. DG of October 18, 1968, thirty participants plus Howie Hendricks. Bob Stephens chaired the sessions, so that Lorne could “sit on the sidelines as a coach, free to speak up but not having to carry responsibility for leading the discussions.”
  15. DG of December 20, 1968. Dr. Hendricks gave us seven Needs, one being “to engage in more penetrating evaluation as to both our product and our process.”
  16. DS of January 17, 1969. One proposal that, mercifully, was not adopted by the WRDC was to change the name of The Navigators to The Navigator International Missions.
  17. There was also an important paper on “The Role of Women” in the Navigators by Doug Sparks (3 pp) and some “Guidelines on the Girls’ Ministry.” We see in Doug’s paper the emerging transition from girls to women.
  18. Jim references Dr. Elton Trueblood’s opinion that the “presence and power of Christ will be through independent organizations and through occupational groups.” Because we have been successful in college and military occupational groups, Jim opines that it may be that future Nav ministries among young couples should be grouped “by occupation rather than a heterogeneous assortment” in our strategic planning.
  19. In Sanny’s DSL 1970-1, he wrote, “The central concept of the Navigator ministry has always been the doer-teacher. That is a person who does certain things and teaches others to do them. Dawson called him a “reproducer.” We are calling him a “disciple-maker.” Whatever you call him, that is what a real Navigator is: a doer-teacher. Jesus was a doer-teacher: Acts 1:1, “. . . all that Jesus began to do and teach.”
  20. Attached to this definition was the comment: “Suggest renaming this to something more descriptive, such as assistant representative or apprentice staff.
  21. The definition identified a Nav laborer as the Basic Nav Product or BNP. In later years, (our) Basic Work Force (BWF) was the sum of all disciple-makers involved with us in the Great Commission.
  22. Why 1983? Because it would be the fiftieth anniversary of The Navigators and would also serve as a convenient intermediate point in preparing for what he proposed by the year 2000.
  23. When he wrote this, we had eighty-eight representatives. Why 6,450 MDMs? Because this would provide us with an average of one MDM per million persons, given the projected global population. For this statement, see page 12 of his strategy. Box WS4. In developing his thinking, he referred to the instructive example of General Eisenhower during 1943-1944: Eisenhower realized that he had to build up an extraordinary force of more than one million men in the UK in order to have the ability, when ready, to move across the channel in sufficient strength to defeat the enemy.
  24. Significantly, Scott wrote that “in proposing seven hundred official representatives by 1983, I was thinking in terms of an organization. But in proposing 6,450 MDMs by the year 2000, I was thinking of a movement.” See 1968 strategy, page 34.
  25. This 1968 strategy and some of the reactions and explanations that it precipitated can be found in box WS4.
  26. “Current Thinking on Strategy,” November 1968, part 1. See box WS4.
  27. Extracted from WRDC summary of papers on strategy. See box WS4.
  28. WRDC notebook: Scott’s handwritten summaries, from detailed reports. Converts and disciples include both men and women. LAM (Petersen) did not report fruit.
  29. Source: Lorne’s letter to the divisional directors of September 26, 1969.
  30. See article titled “Management by Objectives: 1968-1974.”
  31. This understanding is quite advanced for the late 1960s. During the ensuing years, we came to understand the nations (ta ethne) as peoples and languages and countries. See article on “The Nations.”
  32. There was also a notional target of 6,450 makers of disciple-makers (MDMs) by 2000.
  33. This was previewed in the “Dear Gang” letter of March 1996 in which Lorne suggested that stage 3 was still ten-to-fifteen years away in the US.
  34. See article on “Profiles and Requisites.”
  35. Conclusions of November 1969 divisional directors conference dated November 25, page 3. “A Plan for the 70s Begun.”
  36. This statement, which was unchanged from the November 1969 divisional directors conference, is significant. It shed light on why the future “Strategy for the 70s” focused on positioning rather than on what we do when we are positioned which, of course, was the focus of the later FOM.
  37. This was the first international project in which I (McGilchrist) had the privilege of participating, in support of Sparks, from his EMA office in London. The genesis of such large numbers may be found in a table of Scotty’s November 1968 draft strategy in which he projects twenty-to-twenty-five regions in North America and twenty-three regions in the rest of the world by 1978!
  38. “Dear Staff” letter of September 18, 1970. This was followed by a worldwide day of prayer for laborers on October 15. Note the emphasis on participatory planning.
  39. “Dear Staff” letter of January 20, 1971. Later usually abbreviated BWF. During the next two years, discussion took place of such issues as were they our “workforce”; to what extent could we count them; when a disciple-maker moved, for example, from the collegiate to the church ministry, should he or she be counted again; how would the community ministry impact this force.
  40. “Dear Staff,” 1970-6.
  41. Scott argued strongly for the fact that money has no nationality; in other words, finances to fulfill the sending mission of a country need not come exclusively from that country. In pursuit of this concept, he was very much in a minority among our leaders. See article “Financing Foreigners.”
  42. “A Strategy for the 70s,” chapter 2, page 23.
  43. This strategy built on the 1968 discussion, but it was far more detailed and buttressed by considerable research. Whereas in 1968 our focus was raising up staff, by 1972 the focus was on positioning them. Lest one conclude that Scotty worked on this strategy in isolation, we may note a letter from Scotty’s deputy for PAN, Marvin Smith, to Warren Myers: “Lorne has spent a considerable time in discussing the report at this stage with Scotty and is quite excited about the work that Scotty has done. He feels that this is one of the most significant projects being done in The Navigators at the present time . . .” Source: Smith to Myers of September 21, 1972.
  44. Quotations extracted from Scott’s introduction to the “Strategy for the 70s,” DDC December 1972.
  45. When 1983 arrived, our force of Reps was 316 Americans and 157 non-Americans, the latter being 33 percent of the total.
  46. See, for example, the personnel policy that sending countries will allocate 50 percent of their national Reps for overseas assignments after the first three Reps. May 30, 1970. Expressed by Sanny in “Dear Staff” letter of June 19, 1970.
  47. These came later to be called country summaries. Sanny emphasized that these plan summaries would not be evaluated without the originating country leader present: they were merely resource material for the ISC in October 1974, for they dealt more with what countries had accomplished in the last year than what they hoped to accomplish in future.
  48. Also, the twelve zones were reduced to ten.
  49. Ian and Vicki Munro went as missionaries to the radical campus at Boulder, Colorado. To celebrate this, a “sending banquet” at a London hotel was put on by and for the UK staff.
  50. CPC notes 2.2.7, page 31.
  51. August 12-16, 1974, in the Pink House. Twenty-two participants. On day two, Sanny met separately with the divisional directors to discuss the nature of his job and the services to be made available to our staff, while other participants discussed administrative charges.
  52. Scott’s strategy assistants were Rich Chin and John Ridgway.
  53. Examples of these criteria: number of universities and perceived political climate.
  54. Taken from 1972 adjusted list including field experience, July 17, 1974. This turned out to be the final revision of the country rating scale. The fifteen criteria were, for a maximum score of one hundred points: See Table 4
  55. “Dear Staff” letter, October 11, 1974 (Italics mine).
  56. ISC minute 1.3m.
  57. Such growth rates also tended to underestimate the inevitable failures and resignations that became very significant in the late 1970s.
  58. ISC booklet, page 1.
  59. Source: Statement of March 31, 1975 in agenda for DDC in London, April 1975.
  60. Scott to Sanny: memo of October 11, 1974. Scott told the ISC that he was planning two five-day seminars with professors from the Fuller School of World Mission “to broaden our understanding, stimulate our thinking, and provide us with factual inputs we might not otherwise get: the first in March 1975 and the second in October 1975, resource people being Glasser, Winter, Kraft, Wagner.
  61. At the December 1973 CPC, Petersen and Henrichsen had felt that “whatever is a guideline at the top becomes a quota at the bottom.” CPC notes, page 46.
  62. This ILT first met in Great Fosters at Egham near London in April 1975.
  63. Comments by Henrichsen distilled from what Petersen recorded.
  64. The Lausanne Covenant: An Exposition and Commentary by John Stott, World Wide Publications, 1975.
  65. “Dear Staff,” 1974-8.
  66. Ibid, 1969-11.
  67. Walt became quite a novelty in New Zealand. Because of the high cost of purchasing cars locally, he shipped out a repainted US Postal Services van as his car, relishing the convenience of right-hand drive.
  68. Source: position paper of April 2, 1975.
  69. This April 1975 gathering represents the birth of our International Leadership Team. Jim Downing was still Lorne’s deputy, but did not attend the meeting. Donald McGilchrist’s future responsibilities as International Administrator were discussed, but it would be another year before he moved to International HQ. Lorne told the divisional directors, “There is no international leadership team functioning any longer at The Glen: I am virtually divorced already from IHQ administration.”
  70. Taken from “Towards a Dynamic Strategy,” a presentation prepared by McGilchrist for the ILT in April 1977.
  71. Scenario planning presents a range of outcomes, depending upon future conditions.
  72. Proverbs 27:23. Source: Revisions of 1975-1976, para 3.9, McGilchrist November 1976. A significant, though not the major, reason for not meeting our forecasts was the very high rates of inflation in the mid-1970s. For example, projected inflation for 1975 was US 10 percent, UK 18 percent, Australia 20 percent, Netherlands 11 percent (“Dear Staff” letter, 1975-1.
  73. Source: McGilchrist to White of June 13, 1984. The following countries produced less than half of what they projected: Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Jordan, Ghana, Kenya, Japan. Only the Philippines (Ron York) exceeded the projection). See also the comment above as regards gift income.
  74. Simmons commented that one country leader in Asia had hosted thirty visitors during the past year.
  75. ISC notes, page 31.
  76. See the 8 assumptions that Petersen judged to be faulty in his note of January 7, 1975.
  77. Assembled by McGilchrist and marshalling annually some sixty pages of data, with an interpretive summary.
  78. This was an early precursor of the International Leadership Community that formed after the birth of The Core.
Copy link