Measuring Ministry Effectiveness Without Looking At Numbers
Recently there's been a lot of good discussion that centers on using attendance numbers to measure our ministry effectiveness. From Terrace Crawford, to Doug Fields, to the Orange Conference, there has been a stream of solid discussion happening about the questionable logic of measuring your ministry’s success primarily by your numbers. While numbers are certainly an important indicator of our effectiveness, we can probably all agree that they shouldn’t be our primary means of measuring our success.
But, then, the question is: What's a better way of measuring ministry effectivess?
If you'll give me a few minutes, I'll share with you a philosophy of measuring effectiveness our pastor has led us to embrace. While we’re certainly not the only ones, we feel incredibly blessed to serve at a church where we don’t feel the constant pressure of maintaining numbers. Our church leadership is more concerned with the depth of our effectiveness than the breadth of our influence.
Now that sounds nice in theory, but you’re probably wondering what that actually looks like in practice. So, today, we want to give you an inside look at exactly how our church measures success in an atmosphere where numbers aren't "top level." (Before we go any further though, keep in mind, every church has core values and goals that are unique to them. The method of measuring success we’re going to discuss is just one attempt by our church to measure our effectiveness according to our vision and strategy. It’s not meant to be a one-size-fits-all approach for every church.)
Our church's mission statement drives our philosophy behind measuring effectiveness. Our mission statement is “To ensure that every man, woman, and child in our sphere of influence is given repeated opportunities to hear and see the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Now, that’s a big mission that on its own is not easily measured. So our pastor has identified what we call the "4 Tethers," the four things that keep us tethered (or tied) to our mission. They’re also the key to measuring our ministry effectiveness. Here they are:
1. MAKE SPIRITUAL FORMATION A PRIORITY
What are we doing to give students opportunities to grow spiritually and to become better followers of Jesus? Are the students we lead exhibiting certain outcomes of spiritual formation?
- Are they growing in intimacy with God?
- Are they engaged in Christlike relationships with both believers and unbelievers?
- Are they identifying their giftedness and discovering how they can use those gifts for God’s glory?
- Are they sharing their grace stories to help others understand God’s story of redemption?
2. CULTIVATE PARTNERSHIPS IN THE GREATER BODY
What are we doing to love, serve, and equip the “big C” Church? Are we mostly focused on building “our” ministry, or are we actively looking past denominational lines for ways to help other churches do and be their best, locally, nationally, and globally? (After all, we are one Church, one Body, with one mission.)
3. THINK GEOGRAPHIC INTENTIONALITY
What are we doing to strategically engage students in their communities? How are we loving, investing in, and partnering with the cities, towns, school systems, and businesses that are located in our geographic sphere of influence? Are we more consumed with gathering people to our church campus, or with sending people, on mission, into their communities?
4. PRACTICE INTERDEPENDENT LEADERSHIP
What are we doing to serve and partner with other ministry leaders on our staff? Are we building or hindering a mentality of teamwork and cooperation? Are we strategically linking arms with other ministries in our church to maximize our effectiveness?
These 4 Tethers aren’t just principles or ideals for us. They are the standards our ministries use to measure our success. For example the 4 Tethers determine how we spend our money. Every year, prior to submitting our budgets, each of our ministry leaders must also submit a report detailing how our projected expenses align with these four areas and, ultimately, our mission. The 4 Tethers determine what is (and is not) considered successful.
Another example: Once a year, each of our ministry leaders assesses their ministry based on these four areas. Then each of those assessments is reviewed and discussed, together, by our entire team of ministry leaders. (To give you an inside look at exactly how this happens, we’ve included our most recent assessment of our Middle School Ministry. This report details how we currently measure up in each of these four areas and how we think we can improve.)
Again, this is just one church’s attempt to measure success according to our unique vision and context. Like so many of you, our church leadership is committed to defining and measuring our organization’s success by the right things. Yes, numbers are one tool in evaluating effectiveness.But there are so many things more important than numbers!
So, how about you? Does your church have any unique or innovative ways for measuring the success of its ministries?