I always get these two words mixed up. When I can keep them straight, I know that affect is generally a verb and effect is mostly a noun. These two words should get used a lot in ministry, but I hear about effect more than affect. Check out this cool video that uses wound and water to make a change.
The sound affects the water. It makes a change. What we see afterwards is the effect of the sound on the water. So what does this have to do with ministry?
A lot of ministries watch for effects. They do something and then see what happens. It’s very scientific. If the effect is good, they try to repeat it.
Someone once told me that’s like a Peanuts comic. The first frame has an arrow in the middle of a target. Next, Charlie Brown has a bow and arrow and sitting at his feet are a paint can a brush. The next frame has him painting a target around an arrow that has been shot into the ground.
Measure effect seems fine most of the time. The church knows is should be something and then measures the effectiveness afterwards. For example, you might have an event that targets outreach. After the event, you see that it didn’t really reach many people outside your normal gathering. But, you claim, it had a great effect of rallying familiar people in fellowship.
Another option is, pardon the pun, shooting for affect. Instead of looking at the outcomes, you plan for change. The change will likely be something unexpected. This switches an outcomes based focus to a process based goal. As long as you are affecting people in line with your values, you hit the target. In this way, the most important target is what you do, not the outcome.
Focusing on affect is a leap of faith. It reminds you that you can only control what you do. You can never control someone else’s response to what you do. So what you do should be in line with your faith. If you are faithful, you will always hit the mark.