Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Church Metrics: What Do You Track?

I value my sleep. I dedicate a third of my life to the activity. But I refuse to wear a sleep monitor. I don't need data to tell me how rewarding my sleep was the night before; the drool on my pillow paints a good enough picture.

Not all metrics are created equal; not all data are equally helpful.
Regardless, in the digital age, we tend to reduce our lives to quantifiable points: steps, calories, and sleeping hours. The church is not immune to the tracking trend. We count attendance, financial contributions, and volunteer hours. This is nothing new. In ages past, the apostles counted converts (Acts 2) and King David numbered fighting men (2 Samuel 24).
Tracking itself is not the problem. What stunts the church is deriving value from misleading metrics. According to Os Guinness, we measure quantity instead of quality: "[Metrics] tell us about the externals of religion and say nothing about the heart" (Renaissance, 43). Because most metrics fail to inspect the more elusive markers of Christian maturity (think fruit of the Spirit), Guinness fears the church will prefer "decisions rather than discipleship, bandwagon rather than Bible, and performance rather than relationship" (ibid., 44).

When we clearly track attendance, participation, and budgets, but havefew metrics for spiritual maturity, our value for performance and popularity seems to outweigh our call to raise people to their full potential in Christ (Ephesians 4:13-16): the ultimate win for Equipping Churches.

So what's a church leader to do? Scrap metrics altogether? Certainly not! Equipping Churches make use of metrics. They measure maturity.

In his recent book, Rediscovering Discipleship, Robby Gallaty argues for assessing churches by their weight, not head count. He proposes tracking D-Groups (discipleship groups of 3-4 people) that are Missional, Accountable, Reproducible, Communal, and Scriptural. This is one way to measure maturity.

Stetzer and Rainer encourage "changing the scorecard" in their book Transformational Church. Their metrics evaluate the Missionary Mentality, Vibrant Leadership, Relational Intentionality, Prayerful Dependence, Worship, Community, and Mission of a church. This is another way to measure maturity.

Our church (Leesburg Grace) has identified eighteen clear markers of maturity, which serve as the the rationale behind our preaching, teaching, training, gathering, and serving. This is our way to measure maturity.

Many of my colleagues measure church plants, mobilized leaders, next steps, baptismal testimonies, personal stories, and ministry teams. Ways to measure spiritual maturity abound. Whatever constitutes the precise data points, Equipping Churches prefer tracking changed hearts rather than head counts.

Think | Assess | Discuss
What do you measure in your ministry? Is it quantitative or qualitative? How well do your metrics reflect the maturity of the body? Did you drool at night? 
(First published for Equipping Network May Newsletter)

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