You have probably heard of the principle GIGO - Garbage In - Garbage Out.
GIGO is used in the field of computer science or information and communications technology. GIGO refers to the fact that computers, since they operate by logical processes, will unquestioningly process unintended, even nonsensical, input data ("garbage in") and produce undesired, often nonsensical, output ("garbage out").
Basically, what we put into a process is what we get out of that process.
There is another term used today - Garbage in, gospel out - as a more recent expansion of the acronym.What this GIGO definition is saying is that since the data goes through a computer, people tend to believe the data.
Because the data is taken at face value, actually digging into that output is out of the question, even if one has good cause to be suspicious. The "garbage out" becomes "gospel truth" and becomes widely and wrongly believed to be the right result, even though the product is false. One prime example today would be the data about Anthropogenic Global Warming.
GIGO is also commonly used to describe failures in human decision-making due to faulty, incomplete, or imprecise data.
GIGO requires we have a willingness to rethink what we are producing, to think about results we are getting. Unless we have such willingness to change input we will keep getting a less than desirable output. The question we want to ask is this: is what we're producing acceptable, reasonable, and up to the manufactures standard for the desired outcome?
Take for example the process of discipleship. Is what we are producing, in the Church today, up to the desired outcome standards set by the manufacturer, our Creator? Or, have we produced a result, that is less than gospel truth, even though it's thought to be, because we haven't put the right input into the process? According to the principle of GIGO, we get out what we put in.
That famous passage of Scripture called the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), has long been thought of as the call to "Missions." Most Christians know Jesus says, "Go" but only a few, very few actually, do so, entering the "Mission Field."
Jason Mandryk, editor of Operation World, informs our thinking that only 1 in 100 Christians have any meaningful involvement in the Great Commission. Is this the outcome we should accept as reasonable?
Based on the principle of GIGO we have produced what would be expected based on the input that the Great Commission is a call to missions for the few. It's not.
In fact, the Great Commission is not a call to missions (the whole Bible is actually a call to the mission of God) as much as it is a call to reproducing disciple-making. The imperative in Matthew 28:19 is not on the "go," which can be better translated as "as you continue on your way" or "as you continue to live your life." The imperative is on the "make disciples."
If what we are producing by our understanding of the Great Commission is not disciples, who make disciples, who continue the process (2 Timothy 2:2), we are producing less than what the process was designed for.
We need to rethink, retool and recalibrate our input so we get the desired output - disciples who live to make disciples and repeat the process.
In Matthew 5:13, Jesus speaks to this GIGO principle this way: "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot." How does salt lose its saltiness?
Chemically, salt is a very stable substance. It can remain so for many years unless it is acted upon by some other agent or process. One of the ways salt loses its saltiness is when it gets diluted. Is our input diluting expected saltiness and therefore yielding a less than desirable output?
Did Jesus really intend that only 1 out of 100 of those who said they were following him to have any meaningful involvement in the Great Commission? Of course not. Then why do we see those the results? GIGO is a universal truth.
The Message renders Matthew 5:13 like this:
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
If we are not being "salty" bringing out the "God-flavors of this earth," producing and reproducing disciples of who follow Jesus, we have lost our usefulness.
The problem that Jesus was addressing was that the religious process in place at the time was feeding a GIGO output of less that desirable results. Jesus came to bring new programming, to recalibrate the input to produce the desired output - Kingdom citizens who make disciples for the glory of God among "all nations." He in fact gave us everything we needed to do so, including the process to follow (see blog post: Rethinking Discipleship: 12 Disciple-Making Essentials from Luke 10)
Two thousands years later, it doesn't look like the desired output is up to our CEO's (Chief Eternal Officers) excellence standards (Matthew 5:48). When 99% of the resulting output is not performing up to design specifications and missional capacity, the problem is not with the output - it's with the input or the application thereof.
What we put into a process is what we get out of that process.
It's time to retool so we can get the job done properly and finish the assignment Jesus gave us to do. That begins by understanding better the process Jesus set up. We need to reclaim that process more widely, especially in the West, and where the system has gone off track.
Let's change GIGO to Gospel In - Gospel Out for the glory of God among "all nations,"
Coming Summer 2014!
God I.N.C. - Finding Your Place in the Family Business