Monday, 23 June 2008

Measuring church success... the lists

An interesting list of measurements for success has been circulating from, I think Backyard Ministries. I've picked it up on both Eddie Arthur's Kouya Chronicle and the Unite site. Journeyman has also posted a couple of items in June, linked to this theme of measuring success.

I find lists like these both helpful and unhelpful at the same time. Helpful in as much as there are usually actions/activities listed that aid the thought process, make you ponder. They can however, all too easily become 'wish lists' to add to the 'let's try this new idea to be seen to be doing something this year/month/week' list.

The real issue in all of this stuff is measurement... Over 30 years in business management has shown me that you measure what is meaningful, meaningful is hard, quantifiable stuff like numbers... how many in how much time; the finite stuff.

The problem that arises for us as Christians and church is that we have no handle on the 'how many and how much time'...
The task is all the world, how many is that..? We also don't have a fix on the time period we have to complete the task in... So, we start to judge what the hard stuff is we should measure... from cigarette butts in the car park to number of souls saved this week ... hmm.

We measure hard stuff because most of us relate to the models that we know... business for the vast majority of us, because that's where we work, and therefore what we know. But the model doesn't work very well when the measurements are really about character, personal growth, christian communities, care and justice in the places where we do life and the people we do life with. These measurements are about the mundane day-to-day stuff of doing life. They are about momentum and prayer for God to be in that momentum. They are about listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying and guiding us to, personally and as church. They are about asking what you/your church can do for God and not what God can do for you... (a cliche I know, but a truth none the less).

So, the beginnings of a list of these measurables might look like:
How can I get better at my conversations about Jesus/church with the people I do life with in the workplace?
Measured by... I'll know I'm getting better at it when more people listen to me/don't run away from me...
How can I get better at being involved in the care/social stuff in my community?
Measured by... I'll know when I am getting better at it when I am actually involved actively and contributing (as opposed to talking about being involved)...
And so on...
Who knows we may be so caught up in God's momentum for us and listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and doing this stuff... to have time to measure the positive contribution we are making... or obsess about it.

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