It's Easter week. A time when most churches will be experiencing record-attendance at their weekend services. But we're a church start-up. We're not even gathering for Sunday worship yet. We don't have any kind of "attendance numbers" to compare. This is getting us thinking...
How do we know if we’ve been successful?
Pictured: "Coffee with the Cops" community event, various launch training gatherings, visiting The Dwelling and Oikos church communities.
At work, we measure how many projects we’ve been able to complete. With our kids, we measure their growth toward adulthood. Personally, we measure the number of goals we’ve accomplished. But what about when it comes to the church? Specifically, how will we know if this church start-up has been successful?
The default metrics most churches use to measure success are attendance and giving. And although those measurements are important, they only provide us with a small picture of the health of a church.
In the last year, Laura and I read a book that radically changed our understanding of how we measure success. No Silver Bullets by Daniel Im proposes that it is just as important to measure input goals as it is to measure output goals. In other words we need to be paying attention to both causes and effects, and be careful to distinguish them.
It's hard to measure "mission" with traditional output goal metrics. That's why right now we're looking at the input goals outlined in our strategy (rest, read, worship, study, celebrate, serve) just as much as--if not more so than--traditional metrics.
A story will help illustrate this. In March, our core team hosted a party for everybody who has showed interest in helping launch this new church. We prepared for 30 guests and could have been disappointed when “only” 20 people showed up. But attendance is only part of what contributes to success. If we were only interested in measuring who showed up to one event we would have completely missed some incredible things God was doing outside of that party.
One of our core team members sent us a text right before the event asking for prayer. She was on a business trip and unable to attend the party, but as she was waiting to board her plane she started talking with a man who has a friend that was recently diagnosed with cancer. He was searching for the right words to comfort her, and our core team member was able to pray with him right there in the airport.
Another family was unable to attend the party because they were hosting a crawfish boil with their Mormon neighbors. They were sharing the love of Jesus and serving as missionaries right there in their neighborhood.
Another family was simply exhausted after a long weekend of travel where they were serving their extended family. They chose to intentionally rest--to "be still"--rather than hurry to another good activity.
Do you see the depth of what God was doing? He was working through more than the celebration we were throwing (which was awesome, btw!). If we only measure attendance and giving, we miss the opportunity to see how God is working in other areas.
We must celebrate these other stories or we miss out on the full depth of God’s work in the world.
We want to be a church of resurrected disciples inviting people to walk with us as we walk with Jesus. Rest, celebration, and service are a few of the rhythms of discipleship our team is engaging in. As we strive to develop holistic disciples we plan to measure the input goals as well as the output goals--that means we're gathering stories just as much as numbers.
The Great Commandment & Great Commission (love God, love others, make disciples)
To be a a church of resurrected disciples inviting people to walk with us as we walk with Jesus.
Living the rhythms of discipleship where we live, work, worship, & play. Those rhythms are: Rest, Read, Worship, Study, Celebrate, Serve... repeat!