By Lee Kemp
As a pastor, you wouldn’t tell members of your church to compare themselves to someone else in the church, right? You would tell them to compare themselves with Christ. We need to validate that concept at a corporate level.
When we are examining our churches’ visions and goals, how are we tracking success? I think a lot of times we are comparing ourselves with other churches. For example, it’s probably not fair to compare a First Baptist Church downtown to a cowboy church. We’ve got to look at what we’re measuring, and with metrics that fit those churches.
I also think that God doesn’t even care about some of the things we measure. There’s a big conversation among guys right now about this question, “Is what we thought was success really success?” Don’t take my word for it. Google “changing the scorecard of ministry” and see what’s out there. Or checkout how authors like Reggie McNeil are contributing to the conversation with his book “Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church.”
At Forefront, we have sat in meetings and felt unsuccessful. But then we would stop and think about people we are ministering to and things we are doing in the community. That would incite us again to keep doing what we needed to do.
When we first started talking to the Boys and Girls Club, they said “We don’t work with churches at all.” We kept talking with them, sought out every way we could serve them, and then later were able to use their space—but they still wanted it off the record. Now we are able to gather there for worship on the record. That’s a success!
When we don’t have good metrics, it makes us question our faithfulness, or worse, God’s faithfulness. And a lot of times, it comes down to asking the right questions…
1. What is a church?
Alan Hirsch, a big author in the missional community, says that because God is advancing His kingdom in different times with all kinds of different people, then there are going to be all kinds of expressions of ekklesia.
This is happening in Arkansas. There are all kinds of churches being planted that are different expressions of ekklesia. One thing we will have to do to continue to have that kind of expression is to change our scorecard.
The metric could be the church’s vision. Forefront’s vision is to reach the lost, equip the saved, and serve God by using our gifts to show Jesus to the River Valley community and beyond. My point is that nowhere in that vision does this mean Sunday morning attendance, a measurement of our building square footage, or our budget.
2. Can you name the people you’ve impacted?
This may be a better question than some of the usual questions we ask. Maybe you reached five new people this month, but do you know their names? It could be as simple as listing their names when you talk about the impact of your ministry.
When your staff says, “This was a hard summer—with people traveling and all—but here are five people who got connected with our church while y’all were gone. They’re excited…” you are staying faithful to the course without questioning “Where’s God?”
3. Who is being discipled outside of Sunday mornings?
We might be tempted to think that if we are reaching the lost we will have more people in our church, or that equipping the saved will bring more unbelievers to our church on Sunday morning. That’s not necessarily true. We need to develop a moving, mobile metric to track disciples who make disciples.
Churches will list budget numbers and things, but very rarely do they sit down and list people who have been paired up for discipleship. Maybe that’s a good new metric because the rubber meets the road when we say, “Here’s Johnny, who’s going to disciple him? Here’s Suzie, who’s going to disciple her?” Your hand is being forced to the paper, and this makes ministry real.
The traditional metrics don’t always fit the vision, so we should instead ask the right questions for our churches. If we have decided to reference standard “scorecards,” then we might miss what God is wanting to do right now.