Grading Church

Ministry is notoriously difficult to quantify.

First, there’s the obvious moral implication: you’re critiquing someone’s good and well-intentioned works.  It would be like Statler and Waldorf offering commentary on Mother Theresa.

Secondly, you have the problem that the standard quantifiers can be deceptive.  If Netflix send out an extra thousand videos this month, they’re doing good business.  If your church gets an extra thousand visitors this month, you might be a Mormon.  Counting dollars becomes nebulous and seedy when you factor in Jesus’ teachings about money.

But consider the other option.  Ministries without measurements just allow the charismatic to make an unchecked killing.  Thanks for the tithe.  So churches can and should have standards of measurement for effectiveness.  I use an X, Y, and Z plane to assess how our church is doing.

X.  Are we growing wider by bringing new people into our mission and retaining our former members?

Y.  Are we growing deeper, as evidenced by people seeking out sources of education and discipleship, such as classes and Bible studies?

Z.  Are we moving forward, as evidenced by people taking part in the active mission of the church, assessing their spiritual gifts and volunteering hours to care for one another and the community?

Stagnation on any of these planes requires immediate attention.  And ultimately, 10 years out of seminary, a leader of a church (assuming they stay in one place) ought to able to demonstrate progress along all three.


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