Skip to content
Home » Clarifying Our Calling: 1960s

Clarifying Our Calling: 1960s

Summary: This article examines the work that Lorne Sanny led in the 1960s to strengthen our foundational understanding of what Navigators are called to do, culminating during the next decade in the Fundamentals of Nav Ministry. We look at how our thinking evolved, from 1961 to 1969, in both concepts and vocabulary


Lorne Sanny’s Pursuit of Clarity and Simplicity
Navigator Objectives: A Struggle to Define the Goals
Sanny’s Post-Conference Thoughts on Navigator Objectives
Navigator Objective Statement, 1966-1969
Attachment: Objective–Means–End: Extracts from the TPC 1963

Sanny’s Pursuit of Clarity and Simplicity

Our leaders gave much attention to the nature of our contribution—and how best to describe it—during the early 1960s.

Less than a year after he became president of The Navigators in 1956, Lorne Sanny declared that “our basic objective is to recruit, build, and send men.” There followed a cascade of new field initiatives between 1957 and 1960, after which Lorne called together our first Overseas Policy Conference1 in order to bring focus to our advance into the nations, after exploring God’s overall objectives for church and world, into which we should fit. A broader perspective on the continuum of our intent throughout the years can be obtained from the article on “A History of Our Calling.”

During his thirty years as president, Lorne held to a strong responsibility “to clarify, communicate, and maintain the purpose of The Navigators.”

Flowing out of the lengthy discussions at the Overseas Policy Conference in 1961, we concluded that “the overall objective of The Navigators is to contribute to the fulfillment of the Great Commission by producing reproducers in every nation,” and that, for the next ten years, this would be pursued by “demonstrating producing reproducers in the countries where we decide to operate.”

It transpired that Lorne was restless about this formulation and thus we find him leading a strenuous debate as to how best to express our contribution, when he called together a Training Policy Conference in September 1963.2 Some twenty Navigator leaders participated.3 Preparatory committees had drafted twenty-one research papers, authored by fourteen of the men. Participants also had access to questionnaire responses from our staff.

Sanny began by drawing attention to the symbolism of the year: thirty years since we began, ten years at Glen Eyrie, almost three years since the OPC. He observed that, during the recent staff conference, “Many questioned the amount of money needed but few were stunned by our need for manpower.” He had been claiming Psalm 25:4-5. Why this Conference? “We have a stated objective but we really don’t know whether or not we know what the problems are.”

What comes through in his remarks is a genuine humility, holding everything with an open hand, yet tenaciously pursuing clarity of purpose and economy of means.

He expounded the basic passage for the conference, which was 2 Corinthians 10:12-15:

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand.

  • Verse 12: “We could get caught in this trap. Our purpose is not to be different or to do things because no one else is doing them; our basic objective is, ‘Lord, what do you want us to do?’ If this is unique, fine.”
  • Verse 13: “The word policy means to set limits . . . God has not called us to do everything. I think we do have a unique purpose as a calling from God, otherwise I don’t see any reason for the existence of The Navigators. . . . We have to set certain limits.4 We must decide what not to do, as well as what to do. We may meet the criticism of being narrow.”

Sanny continued: “One purpose this week is to set limits . . . so that we can have specific enough goals and policies and principles and methods to give direction, but also broad enough to give latitude. . . . Our purpose is to simplify. . . . We will have to analyze and tear things apart and then synthesize.”5

He observed that “frustration often precedes the light dawning.” Today, we might say that we want to reach the simplicity that lies beyond complexity.

Navigator Objectives: A Struggle to Define the Goals

The Training Policy Conference in 1963 started with the phrase “producing reproducers” from the 1961 OPC. Was this a means or the end?

Sanny’s introductory remarks are instructive. The OPC, he said, had given us “a sharper edge” than previously. However, he did not feel in his heart that we had fully adopted “producing reproducers” as our objective at the OPC.6 Therefore, he wanted to challenge the term: “There is no such thing as a producer of reproducers.” Sparks chimed in that “producer” is not a scriptural word, and suggested a phrase such as “a band of multiplying disciples.” An intense discussion ensued, in which the idea of generations was prominent. Sanny affirmed multiplication and generations, drawing from the promises God had given us from Isaiah.

He went on to say that:

. . . the specific objective for The Navigators is variously defined, but it’s there and we sense it and feel it. The OPC felt what it was. . . . The wording of it will probably continue to change, which might be good as we look at it from new and fresh aspects. To help recruit, develop, and guide laborers for Christ. This is the need—laborers, a certain kind of laborer. God has called us to do something about this.

Sanny emphasized the importance of our discussion. Our training would be greatly affected by whether we are narrow (producing reproducers) or broader. Daws, he said, never intended that producing reproducers should be the end, but it was a phrase he had coined as a means. The end was laborers. From Sanny’s viewpoint, “The development of individuals as laborers to their maximum” should be our end result.7

Some paragraphs from his reflections at the TPC:

I have never felt producing reproducers was our objective. I didn’t think so at our OPC 1961, but I never felt like I knew how to express it. If this is our objective . . . then I, as president of The Navigators, could not produce reproducers as such. . . . Yet, I myself have said everything we do grows out of this central idea, and I have used the term producing reproducers. 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. . . . I am really in earnest about this. . . . It may seem to me like a far greater issue than it does to some of you. I see the repercussions of this as being very extensive.

At OPC 1961, I felt the atmosphere of what we agreed on and not the statement was what we meant. I have never felt free to use that statement. I am still a reluctant leader and can be taught by others. I’m open to have someone else define for me and for us what the objective of The Navigators is. All I ask is that my heart respond to it. . . . I have given days and weeks to this.

Earlier in the day, Sanny had observed that we were relatively clear on what we want men to be: our struggle is how to express what we want them to do.

The following day, Sanny continued to lay out his thoughts at length, after each of the men had produced a statement of what they thought our objective should be. He noted the strong similarities. What we do must be related to the Great Commission. Our end result is laborers of many kinds, because of their differing gifts and functions, laborers of a particular kind whose responsibilities are to multiply or teach others also. Not every person is going to be a multiplier, but the heart of our vision is to secure such laborers through multipliers. We are to pray to the Lord of the harvest that men will be apprenticed to us. Then we will send them forth as in Mark 3:14 or commit to them as in 2 Timothy 2:2. In accomplishing our objective, we are looking for a certain kind of laborer, not necessarily a better kind, but a certain kind whom God has gifted, called, and adapted to the objective He’s given us. This is measurable and attainable. “At staff conference, I thought I was communicating, but I’m amazed to see how little I do really communicate. My job is to clarify and maintain objectives . . . and it’s obvious that the clarification was very weak.”

Referring back to the need to set limits, as in 2 Corinthians 10, Sanny added:

I think we have broad limits: laborers. If we had stuck with making the means our goal, it would be a narrow end result, so that we would be restricted and our work would grow more slowly and our staff would be much smaller. We would have to be much more selective than we are today in the choice of staff.

Through the mid-1950s and 1960s, we thought we were spread so thin around the world that we were missing a central idea. Thus, our objective at OPC 1961 was set because we thought we needed it. However, the more often we make corrections, the less violent they will be. If we take laborers of many kinds to be the means, we will have a much larger ministry and will engage in a wider variety of activities. We will be more decentralized and will use people with a greater variety of capabilities within some limits. The key man in the Nav organization is the representative.

I have an illustration of an hour glass on its side. A Nav representative must have this vision so much in his heart that he would be able to narrow down to that ministry all by itself and feel that it was the highest. . . . And once he was in the neck of this, he could then branch out into all kinds of activities because he could recruit people in such places. However, if a Nav representative has not been squeezed through the neck, he won’t be able to stay on target in the complexity of ministries. The Graham team wants Navigators because they (Graham’s people) don’t have men who have this central idea so impressed in their hearts that interpenetrates all that they do.

Illustration of Lucy Sanny. She is one in heart with me . . . sold on what we’re doing, but not producing much on it. This concept is liberating rather than confining. But, if our goal were artificial or too high, it buries instead of liberates.

Sanny quoted Einstein: “Perfection of means and confusion of goals seems to characterize our age.” Thus, we have to keep clarifying our goals before we work on the perfection of means.

Produce Staff or Stimulate a Movement?

Underlying the debate as to whether our objective was reproducers or laborers of many kinds was a tension between a narrow or a broad view of our calling. Was our grassroots ministry to be geared to the production of staff or were staff a means toward the stimulation of a movement?

Jim Petersen recalls that, during our first US Area Reps Conference immediately following the OPC in 1961, one of the participants declared that, “My job as a Navigator is to raise up staff.” It was a shock, because Jim saw this as much too small a goal to which to give one’s life, and said so.8 Debate ensued. Later that day, Sanny joined the discussion and supported the broader calling. Nevertheless, Jim saw that he was very much in the minority.

Our internal debate on where to focus continued through the 1960s and 1970s.

Laborers or Reproducers?

Another concern was that our staff development program had been “sort of slipshod” (Sanny). It needed a senior person (or group) to formulate and guide it.9

One sympathizes with Sanny. He commented at one point in the Training Policy Conference: “It’s a mystery to me how we are going to come out in this short time (ten days) with what we want.” Much preparatory work had been done. The minutes of the conference extend to perhaps 250 pages including sixteen hefty research papers of which samples are:

  • “Training in Character” by John Crawford
  • “Leadership Training” by Jim Downing
  • “How Jesus Trained His Disciples” by Jim White
  • “Training Nationals” by George Sanchez

To end the fourth day, after much discussion, eleven of the senior leaders in turn read out how they suggested that we formulate our objective. In this exercise, the frequency of key words is surprising:

  • Laborers (eight)
  • Multiplying (five)
  • Generations (five)
  • Discipling (two)
  • Producing (one)
  • Reproducing (zero)

Evidently, “producing reproducers” had not been well received or understood in the grassroots. Some also would have picked up Sanny’s ambivalence. He said at one point that, “Our end result is laborers, but our chief and only means is producing reproducers.” However, the general sentiment was that if this means were to be employed, it would have to be a cooperative effort. He had wrestled much with this issue of what God was calling us to do, which was typical of his diligence. “I’ve done a lot of study on purpose, aim, objective. There is no common distinction to be made . . . but my objective is to help clarify and maintain the objectives.”

The plural is interesting. At another point, he added the question: “Is producing reproducers our main product or a result of producing mature laborers . . . or vice versa?” Jim Downing added, somewhat wistfully, “We have inherited 1900 years of disobedience and this makes the problem greater.”

Recovering our sense of direction, Sanny emphasized that our objective will come from:

  • The Scriptures
  • Providential circumstances
  • Deep, inner conviction of the Spirit

Among the providential circumstances that he instanced was that, at the Graham Crusade in Los Angeles, seven thousand counselors had been trained from 1200 churches, but 70 percent of them had never previously led a person to Christ, nor did the counselor training given at the Crusades produce personal workers. Conclusion: Nobody else is producing laborers.

As regards an inner conviction, we had this but were finding difficulty expressing it more clearly.

Towards the end of the conference, as we built towards phrases in our future objective, another “vote” was taken. Thus:

  • Fulfilling our function in the Body (eleven)
  • Producing reproducers (nine)
  • Building disciples (four)

One can sense the struggle to think conceptually as a group. Although Sanny was giving a steadying leadership, he would occasionally make comments such as the following:

  • “A lot of our terminology has eroded in the last couple of years and some of our terms don’t mean the same as they did two years ago.”
  • “There are no Nav principles. Let’s keep out of difficulty by sticking to fundamental principles that are scripturally based.”

The participants then spent an extended time in prayer.

There is much more that could be recorded. By way of summary, our leaders were wrestling with the application of biblical principles to our Calling and the changes needed to strengthen our obedience to this Calling while also searching for the best way to express and practice the Calling. Sanny later described this conference as “inconclusive” which he qualified as “very, very useful in redefining our objective and bringing our thinking up to date, but open-ended as we continue to work away at various facets. . . . We tackled so much that it was a very ambitious thing.”

The record of the 1963 TPC illuminates our subsequent journey but also reveals the struggle that we experienced, especially in Sanny’s heart,10 to build on a firm, biblical foundation. After all, how could we train consistently if we differed on what Navigators should be doing?

Because it is so revealing of how our leaders were forced to jettison simplistic understandings, I append to this article a few extracts from the actual dialogue at the TPC, as regards our objective and the viable distinction between means and ends.

Although the very practical Skip Gray said at one point, “All of us will do basically the same thing tomorrow as we did yesterday,” the discussion rolled on in pursuit of deep clarity.

Sanny’s Post-Conference Thoughts on Navigator Objectives

In his “Dear Gang” letter in October, Lorne expanded on his perspective at some length. Writing only a couple of days after the end of the conference,11 he laid out his general understanding of objectives, as follows:

In my thinking, this conference picked up from the point of our Overseas Policy Conference two and a half years ago and the months I spent shortly after that seeking God’s direction for the work. Since our objectives are merely sub-objectives of His big objective in the world, they are dynamic, not static, and sometimes need to be broadened, narrowed or tested. As in the science of cybernetics, where a missile guided in the general direction of its target makes constant corrections by radio signal, so we need continual correction. Paul’s letters were these corrections for the young church. Two and a half years ago we felt led to narrow our objective because we were spreading too thin. Now we have zeroed in on our goals and conclude a correction is needed in the direction of broadening. Rather, we have brought our definitions up to date with what we have already been doing in practice.

An objective to be valid should be simple, definable and attainable. Much discussion centered on the very heart of the Navigator work expressed in the term “producing reproducers”—what is meant by it? Is it attainable? Is it biblical? As a result, we arrived at an agreement on what we mean by our objective, although not at a neatly worded definition. We recalled Daws’ early prayer request that God would bring him into touch with a band of young men, rugged soldiers of the cross with an eye single to His glory—and other similar pleas for men. Our goal is still to raise up men, laborers of many kinds, for the harvest. A means toward this end is the process we call producing reproducers. By having to a degree made the means the end, we have imposed a somewhat artificial restriction on our total ministry, which includes contact and production among those who do not eventually turn out to be “producers of reproducers.” Our business is laborers, and any means to that end that we mistake for the goal itself is likely to sidetrack us in the long run. We’ll be talking more about this.

We concluded there is no such thing as a “Navigator principle.” A principle is a fundamental truth, such as the truth that intake of the Word is essential to growth, and a fundamental truth is in the public domain. Grouped, certain principles combine into a philosophy. A method is a definite system of procedure. As we emphasize certain things—whether principles or methods—God has called us to, these might better be called Nav emphases.

Later sessions dealt with staff training, equipping an area representative and the scope and kind of training to be done at the Glen. You will hear more of this later on. The conference itself was quite a training seminar for all of us. The discipline of thinking through to basic issues, for instance, the hours spent in interaction of ideas, the consideration of the serious business of the Great Commission, the realization of how little we yet know about this whole subject of training—these and the lighter moments of fellowship and recreation drew our hearts together in a spirit of love and unity that was so evidently of the Lord. All through the time we wished that Roy Robertson and Scotty could have been with us; they will get firsthand reports through Jake and LeRoy.

Equipping and Appointing Navigator Staff

The following year, in his Annual Report to our staff, Sanny spoke of the new concept of Contact Points:12 “This is probably the most crucial thing we have before us right now in the development of personnel to meet our needs both stateside and overseas.” We were getting to the point that those who are being appointed “to go overseas to national works have in every instance had at least two years of experience in the ministry on their own: Lottises, Stroms, Masons, Haskells, Stephens, Chews, Saethers . . . all have had previous experience in the ministry demonstrating this on their own.”

Indeed, he continued:

We have a guideline that before a person will become a full-fledged area representative, or will work with nationals overseas or with servicemen overseas, that they must have fulfilled two years on-their-own as a contact point . . . and particularly a supervised contact point. The facts are that area representatives are trained by area representatives, and therefore we feel that if we have someone that looks like they are ready now to get out on their own, to have them within a reasonable radius of an area representative who can sort of have oversight and help them to develop and mature to become an area representative. This is the number one priority, above all other priorities in our personnel selection and placement at this time, because it is from this particular pool that we are going to get the people that we need as representatives, either Americans or nationals. And this of course decentralizes the training. . . . It puts it where it belongs. . . . This is taking precedence over our needs at the Glen; automatically, as soon as a person is ready we look for a contact point in which to place him. Then the Glen needs, the development program needs or the rest will have to fight for that person and present a strong enough case to see whether or not we want to set aside our prime guideline. This is how strongly we feel about it. Because, if a person is going to develop the initiative, the drive and all that’s necessary, they’re going to have to get out to get the responsibility on their own. . . . You may be able to preach on it, but there’s something different about getting out by yourself.13

Later in his Report, Sanny added that, “We have finally worked out a means for our personnel collection, placement, geographical planning that is functioning very well in our personnel board which is made up of LeRoy Eims (representing US Areas), Jim Downing (representing the Glen and HQ), George Sanchez (representing overseas), and Rod Sargent (representing our ministry supporters).” Sanny coordinated the meetings of this board which gradually hammered out some basic guidelines, the purpose being simply to place the right person in the right job at the right time. Lorne recalled his first year as president when eighteen decisions on placing personnel were made during the staff conference, mostly by him!14 Incidentally, he added that, “As far as we’re concerned, anybody can talk to anybody about their future . . . but decisions will be made by the personnel board.”

Navigator Objective Statement: 1966-1969

By 1966, it was established that we would drop “producing reproducers” in favor of a new statement15 of our Objective:

To Help Fulfill Christ’s Great Commission by Multiplying Laborers

Indeed, this was so firmly established, under the rising influence of Management By Objectives,16 that it was supported by an exegesis containing eighteen points, which was surely the historical high point of precision! The flavor of this exegesis can be conveyed by quoting a few of these points:

1. We understand the Great Commission to include proclaiming not only the good news of the reconciled life but the victorious life and the useful or significant life.
4. We will recruit, develop, and relate these laborers. In recruiting, the primary emphasis is on “growing our own”; in developing, on spiritual growth and on the job training; and in relating, on recognizing the gifts of each man and directing him toward his most productive place in the Body of Christ.
5. Our objective is laborers of many kinds: laymen, “full-time” Christian workers, and Navigator staff. By “many kinds” we also mean disciples in general and laborers of a particular kind; namely, multiplying disciples.
6. In training men for Nav staff we will aim at developing team leaders, since it is essential that staff men be able to recruit and train others to work together in the cause of Christ.
7. In raising up laborers, our main thrust will be toward young men between the ages of eighteen and thirty. However, we will also minister to women, businessmen and others.
11. We believe we serve others best by providing laborers, concepts, and methods, in that order.
14. The word “multiplying” in the statement of our objectives is understood both as an adjective describing the kind of laborers we want to raise up and as a verb indicating the primary method (but not the only method) by which we will fulfill our objective.
18. The Navigator work in a given area is to be evaluated by results rather than by conformity to methods or patterns of operation.

Point 7 is our first reference to “young men between the ages of eighteen and thirty,” a bias which would be resisted a decade later as we moved into community ministries. We had always gone first to young people, but now this was made explicit. We may also note that, in spite of this long list of points, there is surprisingly no direct reference to the nations.

Sanny continued to struggle to keep us from confusing the means and the end. For example, he expressed his concern about such restrictive ideas as concentrating on the development of staff to the exclusion of impact ministry. He felt that we could do both, based on our history. Also, we must do both, in order to attract the kind of men we want: “If he had to choose between the two, he would probably sacrifice organizational growth in order to make a broader impact in selected areas.”

In summary, looking back to the OPC in 1961, Sanny now explained that he “saw producing reproducers as the means, our true objective having to do with laborers of many kinds.”

It has sometimes been assumed that the shift between the 1950s and 1960s was, quite simply, from teaching in the 1950s on what was required to demonstrating it in the 1960s. However, to whom we should “demonstrate” has not often been addressed. Thus, we find in the conclusions of our December 1967 directors conference the following: “Our objective in demonstrating producing disciple-makers is to demonstrate first to ourselves, secondly to our people, and thirdly to the Body of Christ.”

Another conclusion from this conference was that, “the primary objective for this phase of the US ministry should continue to be the production of representatives and money for the worldwide work of The Navigators.”17

In 1969, a further evolution of our objective was agreed. For the first time, we find it called our Primary Aim:18

To help fulfill Christ’s Great Commission by Making Disciples and Developing
Disciple-Makers in Every Nation

At this time, only six exegetical notes were appended! The most significant was a definition of The Navigators: “We refer both to the formal organization of staff members and to the larger movement of non-staff persons whom the organization seeks to stimulate and serve.” The phrase “to help fulfill” was also reassuring: “It means that we recognize Christ’s Great Commission as being given to the entire Body of Christ of which we are a part and to which we must relate ourselves as harmoniously and usefully as possible.”19

So, we have now moved through the 1960s and our objective has evolved from “producing reproducers” to “multiplying laborers” to “making disciples and developing disciple-makers.” To some large degree, all three statements are expressions of the same underlying pulse. One of the reasons why the term “laborers” is so closely examined in the Fundamentals of the Navigator Ministry in the 1970s is that some staff argued that we were stretching this term too far. However, until serious work on the FOM started in 1973, this pPrimary Aim was sustained.

This Primary Aim, by 1970, was accepted enough to allow a ten-year corporate plan to be agreed for the 1980s.

Attachment (see below)
Objectives, Means, End: Brief Extracts from TCP 1963

See also articles on:
A History of our Calling
Ministry Essentials
Overseas Policy Conference: 1961
Training Policy Conference: 1963
Overseas Directors Conference: 1966
Global Planning: 1966 – 1975
US Field: 1960s
Community Ministries
Sanny’s Role

Objective, Means, End: Brief Extracts from TPC 1963

September 24 at 4 p.m.

Sanny’s Understanding of Objectives

Sanny: What about the matter of attainable?

Gray: If an objective is not realistic enough to be attainable, it would be virtually impossible to evaluate our progress.

Sanchez: If an objective is not attainable, it will eventually produce frustration by hanging out there as something we’re trying to do and never accomplishing.

Sanny: Should there be some degree of the “how” involved in the objective?

Mayhall: Our objective from OPC 1961 is to contribute to the fulfillment of the GC by producing reproducers in every nation. . . . There is from a certain point of view an attainableness to this, yet also extended out. We’re continually attaining it as long as we’re doing what it says to do in relation to how by producing reproducers. As long as we are doing this, we are making progress in the attaining of it.

Sanny: Are you saying that an objective should be stated in terms of results, measurable results?

Mayhall: I don’t know.

Sanny: This is a problem: What can you require of people by way of fruit?

Seifert: The GC seems unattainable from our standpoint, even in our lifetime, but we as an organization will set up objectives and contribute to that overall GC which we have inherited by His appointment.

Sanny: It’s God’s objective and therefore He fulfills it and we contribute to it.

Sanny: Is it measurable?

Boardman: Anything that is spiritual, we cannot measure . . . because it’s matter of faith. We must believe God for what we cannot see and for what we want to see.

Sanny: I make an assumption here. Evangelism would not be measurable but could we measure our progress in the second phase of making disciples? I suggest that we are more likely to measure progress in making disciples because we have some clarity as to what is expected of a disciple.

Sanny: The GC was given to a group, not an individual. Our objective is as a group of men who together accomplish this objective. . . . Do not measure by what one individual Rep does to fulfill this, but by his contribution in what he did to help The Navigators accomplish it.

Sanny: Is the great goal of the Nav ministry a producer of reproducers or in the broader sense a laborer or disciple among whom we will have some producers of reproducers? Is our ultimate end result too narrow, or do we feel in our hearts that this is in fact the ultimate?

Downing: Perhaps even the word “disciple” is too restrictive. The end result is a child of God who is in the will of God fulfilling the purpose for which He has been placed in the Body. Then, the Nav objective should be expressed in getting him into this place and one of the by-products will be spiritual reproducers.

White: Do we all agree that in 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul was telling Timothy to make disciples that will be able to produce? I do not see reproducers there. His objective was to equip these men, but not to see producers of reproducers.

Crawford: Paul was interested in Timothy being able to have a family. The father is responsible for the son, but doesn’t have much responsibility for the grandson. The father is interested in the son having a family, but it is his father’s responsibility for his son, etc. In natural life, one advises the family to move away from the father.

Farah: The best evidence with generations is not in 2 Timothy 2:2 but in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 4:9 and 6:6-9, and Psalm 78, and Isaiah 59.

Sanny: We are not asked for producers who reproduce, but for laborers of a certain caliber. Walt Smyth of the Graham Crusades said we have the kind of men who have the heart, the spiritual life, who know how to blend. His men will preach their pet sermons, but our men will come in and fit into their objectives and their team operation.

Sanny: I’m not sure that our long-range objective is the producer of reproducers. I’m not sure that our heart’s desire is to do something about the great need in Christendom today. We want to add to the total of people active as disciples for Christ in the world today. The only way we can get them is by a hard corps of the kind of people that can multiply. This is our end result—laborers, but our chief means and only means is producers of reproducers.

September 25 at 8:15 p.m.

Sparks: Purple tab. Farah, two days ago, presented two papers: on the general philosophy of edifying the Body of Christ and on the general philosophy of edifying the individual Christian, followed by his paper on the Nav philosophy of training.

Sanny: An objective should contain four elements:
1. Definite enough to be put in writing
2. Attainable
3. Specific enough to offer a limited choice of ways and means
4. Long-range and short-range vision

Sanny: Our company objectives and our training objectives will be virtually the same, because this is the purpose of our company. People are our product as well as our means to gaining this product. It seems that our whole set up is geared to developing people, not just to develop people to do something else.

Sanny: Three things combine to give us our objective:
1. Scripture
2. Providential circumstances
3. Deep inner conviction of the Spirit

In Dawson’s prayer, he asked for a band of men with a purpose. John 4: “One sows and another reaps.” January 3, 1954, Daws wrote in the margin of his Bible, “that the Lord might give men for the mission field and other works.” His heart concern was that we would be able to do something about this need for sowers and reapers together for the Body of Christ at large.

Sanny: Providential circumstances . . . current need. In the Graham Crusade, after a lot of difficulty, trials and hard work, we averaged less than two qualified personal workers per cooperating church, and that was after all kinds of effort to recruit them. In Los Angeles, there were seven thousand regular counselors and around 1,200 churches who participated in some way. . . . Yet it jarred me when I noticed that 70 percent of the counselors had never previously led a person to Christ. We are looking for a certain kind of laborer. We need laborers who can win a person to Christ and can take that person and edify them. (He continued to discuss providential circumstances and inner convictions.)

Farah: According to 1 Chronicles 12:8,20 such men should have:

1. Some ability . . . brave warriors, ready for battle
2. Some skill . . . able to handle the shield and spear
3. Men of some courage and conviction . . . with the faces of lions
4. Available for battle . . . swift as gazelles in the mountains

September 25 at 3:15 PM

Mayhall gives his illustration of the pipe. It addressed what was decided at OPC 1961 as our objective: producing reproducers.

Sanny: I don’t feel in my heart that we decided that. . . . There is no such thing as a producer of reproducers.

Sparks: Producer is not a scriptural word. I would like to suggest something like a band of multiplying disciples.

Farah: Isaiah 58 . . . Daws was in contact with a basic truth: “Raise up the foundation of many generations.” Psalm 78:5-8 . . . five generations. We may not have the right term, but we have a basic truth.

Boardman: Hold on to “reproducers.”

Downing: We’re looking for a transfusion for something that is already dead. . . . The idea will not die, but the term will have to shift to multiplication.

Sanny: The idea of multiplication in generations has to be retained, because of the promises that God has given from Isaiah. The question is not whether this should be disqualified as a means but whether it is in itself the objective.

Boardman: In the New Testament, the word disciple is used in at least two ways: just for believers and then for those who have forsaken all.

Gray: All of us will do basically the same thing tomorrow as we did yesterday.

Downing: I take issue with Skip. God has brought us together not to just go out and do what we’ve always done. We need new light and motivation to greatly step up the process.

Sanny: This discussion is extremely important. The alternatives of this morning will make a great deal of difference in the people that our personnel board selects. It it’s the narrow concept of producing reproducers or on the broader basis, training will be different, administration will be different, repercussions in the hearts of people will be different, as to whether or not they are contributing to an objective. I don’t think Daws ever intended that producing reproducers should be the end. The end was laborers, the means was a phrase he coined, producing reproducers. Are we taking a means and making it an end?

Sanny: I suggest that we seriously consider using the development of individuals as laborers to their maximum as our end result. . . . Multiplication hangs on a slender thread scripturally (however, read complete statement on page 10). I’m thrilled about this conversation. . . . Decisions like this determine what we will do down the line.

September 25 at 8:30 p.m.

Sanny: I have never felt that producing reproducers was our objective. I didn’t think so two and a half years ago, but never felt like I knew how to express it. . . . Yet I myself have said everything we do grows out of this central idea, and I have used the term producing reproducers. I agree to 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 by what is repeated and produced down at the end. . . . It may to me seem like a far greater issue than it does to some of you. . . . I see the repercussions of this as being very extensive. If we do not center (sic) it now, we will have to do so two or three years from now. At OPC 1961, I felt the atmosphere of what we agreed on and not the statement was what we meant. I have never felt free to use that statement. Not that I feel that it is all wrong, but there is some part that is not quite right.

Each of the men listed how they would express the objective of The Navigators. Ten out of the eleven expressions contained the term “laborers.” None of them contained the term “reproducers.”

September 26 at 8:15 AM

Several of the men adjusted their statement of the previous evening.

Sanchez: List of nine outstanding thoughts that appear in ten or eleven definitions that we gave.

Sanny: An objective should be broad enough to allow latitude but still specific enough to give a clue as to the means.

Sanny: We are saying that our end result is laborers . . . laborers of many kinds, because of their gifts and functions.

Our means as Navigators is also laborers, but a certain or particular kind: those whose capabilities may be to multiply or teach others also. . . . The heart of our vision of getting laborers is through multipliers. Ephesians 4: 11-12. Gifted people are given to equip others for many different ministries.

It seems that our end result is laborers. This is measurable, attainable. God wants us to contribute on a broad basis, but we have a deep inference from history and the Word and our own experience that this is going to be done by a certain kind.

Sanny: The purpose of this conference is to set limits. 2 Corinthians 10. I think we have broad limits: laborers. If we stuck with making the means our goal, there would be a narrow end result. Not a wrong objective, but it would be restrictive and our work would grow more slowly, our staff would be much smaller. We will be much more selective than we are today in the choice of staff. We will be much more selective in what we participate in.

Sanny: Our objective was set at OPC 1961 because, in the mid-1950s and 1960s, we thought we were spread so thin around the world that we were missing the central idea. Any organization or person’s life does not go in a straight line. The more often we make corrections, the less violent they will be. If we take the broad guideline of laborers of many kinds to be the means, we will have a much bigger ministry, engaging in a greater variety of activities, more men and more money, decentralization . . .

Sanny: The personnel committee does not now make the final decision on Reps. We have it in our hearts to decentralize that whole structure. You who sit on the personnel board do not make it a criterion on whether he has recruited people for the Navs. What has he demonstrated in recruiting people for Christ? Has he had opportunity to build a band of men? The prime objective is not The Navigators: This is our by-product.

Sanny: The problem will be how to guarantee collective security and still maintain individual freedom. How can we give maximum of freedom and development to each man and still maintain a unity of direction and accomplishment of purpose?

Sanny: I am doing more and allowing myself to decide on more than I should. As we decentralize, we have to have some evaluation on performance or will go off in ninety-nine different directions. The objective has to be measurable and therefore attainable. On the one hand, a larger pond; on the other hand, our hope is to make ponds.

Downing: I don’t see that we’ve made any radical change. Our preaching has now caught up with our practice. We have been discussing the best way to put it into practice. (Note the contrast with OPC 1961).


The above selects a few statements which seem to be vital as regards the content of our Objective.

Our Objective was thus clarified, at least in principle. The remaining 250 pages or so of the TPC 1963 notebook address specific applications and ways of training.

By Donald McGilchrist

7887 words


  1. See article on the 1961 Overseas Policy Conference.
  2. Scriptures examined included Psalm 78:5-8; Colossians 1:28; Genesis 1:28; Acts 6:7; 2 Timothy 2:2; Deuteronomy 4:9.
  3. Delegates: Bob Boardman, John Crawford, Jim Downing, LeRoy Eims, Chuck Farah, Bob Foster, Skip Gray, Jack Mayhall, Warren Myers, Bob Newkirk, Addie Rosenbaum, George Sanchez, Bob Seifert, Doug Sparks and Jim White. Observers: Jake Combs, Russ Johnston, Pat Nelson, Denny Repko, Rod Sargent, Bob Stephens, Joyce Turner and Jim Wright. Jody Baker came from Minneapolis to help through the conference, and Bob Stephens arrived early to help with paperwork.
  4. “Policy” derives from the Greek politeia meaning citizenship. It came to mean “a selected, planned line of conduct in the light of which individual decisions are made and coordination achieved.” Source: New Webster’s Dictionary, 1993.
  5. Quotations from Sanny’s opening address, as well as Dr. Clyde Taylor (NAE) and Jerry Michael of IBM who outlined their training methods.
  6. Actually, this phrase had already a long pedigree. For example, in February 1945, Daws had written that there was “one big job before The Navigators—to produce reproducers.” See V-Mail 20.
  7. Sanny distinguished himself from the pragmatists in the room. “Some are itching to get onto something they can get their teeth into, but I’m thrilled . . . by the objectivity and good thinking today. . . . Decisions like this determine our future.”
  8. Source: “The Time of My Life,” The Navigators Asia presentations, 2011. As Jim Petersen journaled in Brazil during August 1965: “It hardly honors the Lord to think in terms of what will advance os Navegadores. The question is, what will contribute most to the kingdom of God? The former is a miserly attitude. The second glorifies God.”
  9. In 1963 we already had a personnel board (Eims, Sanchez, Downing, Sargent, Sanny) and a Glen Eyrie board (Downing, Seifert, Myers, Newkirk, Rosenbaum), though we did not want a training department.
  10. In later years, Sanny often expressed his primary role as to clarify and maintain our Aim. Here, in 1963, we have a fine example of an approach similar to that of Socrates who persisted in probing and challenging untested assumptions.
  11. Dear Gang Letter of October 3, 1963.
  12. Though not exactly equivalent to contact staff, we used to refer in the late 1940s to AWPs or Ambassadors Without Portfolio. See, for example, memo 65 of January 1949 from Sanny to our staff.
  13. Sanny’s report to staff conference, May 29, 1964, pages 5-7.
  14. Ibid, pages 12-13.
  15. Source: Overseas Directors Conference, 1966.
  16. The ODC of November 1966 contains seventy-seven tentative working definitions for our ministry (appendix C, revision 3).
  17. Conclusions 3 and 1 on December 7, 1967.
  18. The accompanying definition of “world” is quite advanced for the 1960s. It is “cultures, races, nationalities, languages.”
  19. Primary Aim of May 30, 1969 supported by quotations of notes 1 and 2.
  20. For convenience, converted from KJV to NIV.
Copy link