On his blog, Adam recently tackled the thorny issue of defining and measuring ministry success. This is an ongoing dilemma for all in church leadership as pressure exists to define ministry “growth” or “success” by one metric: numerical increases in attendance, conversions and offerings. Ministry shorthand is “bodies, baptisms and budgets.”
After you finish reading these excerpts, I encourage you to check out the full posts on his blog.
I found myself pulled between a metric of growth that made me feel like a failure and a strategy (for deep, intentional, organic growth) that I felt called to maintain.
The tension was great and produced a lot of stress. After I returned to a place of health, I became proactive and looked toward figuring out a metric that included the numbers I was required to report PLUS the intangibles of what we are actually about in church planting: the transformation of people and cities by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
From part 2, Ministry Success: Metric & Goal:
When church health becomes the goal, the desired end/outcome/result, everything we do moves us toward it. I submit to you, the #1 goal for every ministry, church plant and church should be health.
The goal of the Christian spiritual journey is conforming to the image of Jesus Christ [by his grace] as we make, grow and equip disciples of Christ. Healthy disciples growing in the image of Christ make other healthy disciples and that eventually makes a healthy church/ministry/church plant.
Finally, from part 3, Ministry Success: Evaluating & Refining:
Here are a couple of metrics that I find helpful in evaluating ministry success. They are in the form of questions so that they can be used for reflection. (This list is not exhaustive.)
How am I/are we serving the Lord with gladness? (see Psalm 100:2)
Am I/are we making new disciples [of all nations] and baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit? (see Matthew 28:18-20)
Am I/are we teaching all disciples to observe all that Jesus commands? (see Matthew 28:18-20)
In what ways am I/are we increasingly aware of Jesus’ very real presence with us? (see Matthew 28:18-20)
How recently have I/we asked great things of Jesus and seen answered prayer in his name? (see John 14:12-14)
Am I/are we abiding in Christ and bearing fruit resulting from this transformational encounter? (see John 15:1-11)
Am I/are we using the Spirit given gifts to serve Christ, his church and the world? (see 1 Corinthians 12:1-11)
What evidence do I/we see of the fruit of the Spirit increasing and the works of the flesh decreasing among the members of our church/ministry? (see Galatians 5:16-25)
How am I/are we who are pastors (and other spiritual leaders) equipping the saints for ministry, or are we doing it all? (see Ephesians 4:11-14)
Am I/are we doing everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, putting forth our best effort and giving thanks to God? (see Colossians 3:17, 23)
How recently did I/we hear the Word of God and obey it? (see James 1:22)
Recently Joe Thorn also addressed the issue of success, albeit in a different way. See Joe Thorn’s post on church growth.
If you are interested in things related to church planting, check out Send North America presented next month (July 2013) by the North American Mission Board. Join thousands of believers who are endeavoring to reach people with the gospel. Click the ad in the right sidebar for more information.