Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How Can Churches Measure Success?

When you showed up to church on Sunday, you probably weren't thinking about the fact that somebody, somewhere was looking at you and determining if Sunday was successful or not.

Churches, like any responsible organizations have a duty to evaluate and measure what is happening under their umbrella of influence each week.  You say, "Well, churches shouldn't operate like a business!"  But the truth is, if they don't take a hard look at what's happening in their organization and consider their successes and/or failures, they won't move forward, they won't grow and they won't be maximized for the Kingdom of God.

I read an article earlier this week that talked about how "Big Business" measures success.  It said that most major companies look at these 5 things:

  1. Profit-- Are you seeing profit in your business?
  2. A Growing Customer Base-- Are you seeing an increase in customers and sales?
  3. Customer Satisfaction-- Are the people who you serve pleased?
  4. Employee Satisfaction-- Are the people who work for you pleased?
  5. Overall Satisfaction-- As the leader of the organization, are you pleased?
It's interesting that most CEO's are gauging the success of their companies off of these 5 things.  But there's a huge difference in the way big businesses gauge success and the way churches gauge success. One of the primary reasons is that nowhere in our Pastoral Training has anyone broke it down and said, "Here are the 5 things you gauge the success of your church by."  One of the main reasons is that every church is different.  Another reason is because we get sidetracked by the numbers and sometimes forget our objective.

As sad as it may be, in many churches, the success of the weekend is determined on Monday morning. A meeting will be called and in that meeting people begin reviewing numbers.  And the two numbers usually looked at first are:  1.  How many people showed up yesterday.  2.  How was the offering yesterday?

Here's the problem with that... Jesus didn't measure the success of the Church like that at all.  Jesus only talks about the church a couple times in Scripture (Matthew 16:18, 18:17) and He didn't talk about attendance or giving at all.  Instead, we see a pattern throughout the Gospels where the primary focus is on obedience (see Matthew 28).  God wants us to go to church and He made that very clear.  He wants us to give; He commands us to, but that shouldn't be the determining factor in measuring the success of our weekends.  The yardstick by which we measure success should be obedience.

Are we making Disciples and are these Disciples making Disciples?

Don't get me wrong... there's nothing wrong with numbers.  When you look at the book of Acts, you'll notice that the apostles were able to calculate a ton of data in regards to the growing church.
  • Numbers of baptisms.  Numbers of new believers; by gender.  Number of people added to the church.  (2:41, 2:47, 5:14, 11:24)
  • Numbers of Disciples by region, by city & by social class.  (Acts 6:1, 6:7)
  • Churches by region.  (9:31, 16:5)
  • Regions impacted & penetrated by the Word of God.  (12:24, 13:48-49, 19:20)
In the early church, the numbers were collected.  I'm sure the numbers were exciting, but the only reason they were exciting was because the numbers represented people.  As Christians, we are in the people business, therefore, life change ought to be the yardstick by which we assess all that we do as the Church.

What if we, as The Church (universal church), began measuring our success differently?  
  • New Disciples (indicated by baptism)
  • Disciple Making Relationships
  • Disciple Making Small Groups
  • Launching of New Campuses & Church Plants
What if we were courageous enough to look internally and ask the difficult questions?
  • Are our people giving sacrificially?
  • Are we serving locally & globally?
  • Are we reaching the next generation effectively?
  • Are we impacting our community with the Gospel?
  • Are we creating new ministries and opportunities for service?
  • Are our worship attendees doing something with their faith (James 2:14-18) by serving in the local church?
  • Are our worship attendees active in Biblical community & doing life with a small group of other believers in the church?
We've got to evaluate our ministries, but it's important to measure the success of the important things first.  These are the things directly related to your:
  • Mission--The Purpose you're trying to fulfill in your ministry
  • Values--These are the non-negotiable foundational things by which you operate by
  • Strategy--These are the key initiatives that God has laid on your heart that help you accomplish your mission.
When we begin assessing our activity according to how God called us as the church to operate, I believe it allows us to become more effective in reaching our world for Christ.  It's not just about putting people in seats and it's not all about paying our overhead, it's about the Gospel.  It's about Jesus.  And it's about us being obedient to what He's called us to do.

It's really not all about numbers.  I believe Paul said it best in 2 Timothy 4:5: 
"As for you... fulfill your ministry." ESV

May we fulfill our ministries today.


  1. It has been two years since this article was published. I have two follow-on questions:

    1. Did you manage to apply the above?
    2. If 1. is Yes, then on ENGAGING THE NEXT GENERATION, can you please share metrics used and activities implemented to track effectiveness and satisfaction (Target audience being ages 12-18 and 18+ singles)?

    I'd really appreciate your input...

  2. First, there were numerous churches in the area in which were not selected and written to. The fact the Spirit was speaking to these churches is another factor of the panoramic view that these "seven churches" shows us today of Church History and the existing periods. Open Heaven 2019 Devotional