Counting in Ministry: What You Measure Matters

I am not sure when we started measuring things besides attendance and money in our church.  Maybe it was the day I slapped myself for being ashamed that I wasn’t the pastor of a mega-church even though I knew God was doing some really great things through my congregation.

  • Thousands do not swarm to hear me preach.  But in the last eight years, 800 babies have been saved out at the abortion clinic through our middle-sized church.
  • No nearby TV station is begging to televise our Sunday morning worship.  But God just raised up a young missionary family from among us to seek His will in South Africa.
  • Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit once again overlooked any of our staff to be one of the keynote speakers, but a third grader at the local elementary school has just started to read “at grade level” (miracle!)  because one of our people volunteered to be her tutor over the last year

If a local pastor isn’t going to trumpet those victories, who will?  I am a firm believer that whatever you celebrate, proliferates.  So, week by week we started raising up a different set of numbers for the church.

These were the  numbers for our 250-attendance church one recent Sunday:

Ministry                                           # involved                         # of People Touched

OneHarvest                                             12                                                 300
Celebrate Recovery                            12                                                   30
CR/Penal Farm                                          5                                                  150
Penal Farm Church                                 5                                                   60 (2 baptisms)
Detention Center Preaching              4                                                   30
Abortion Clinic                                        20                                                  60 (6 saves)
Crisis Pregnancy Center                       4                                                  30
Post-Abortion Group                              1                                                    6
John Hopkins Elementary                  25                                                300
Nursing Home                                           12                                                  12

Totals                                                            97                                        978

We flash versions of these numbers up every week during announcement time, and loud applause greets any “saves” out at the abortion clinic or evangelistic “saves” through our other ministries.

Now, we ministers can become overly-enamored with counting.  I get that.  You can take just as much wrongful pride in these numbers as any other set of digits your sanctified calculator can spit out.  Nevertheless, people and ministries are countable; and as an evangelism wag once said, “When our people numbers become as important as our money numbers, then we will be on to something.”

Note what is not counted in the listing from that one week—anything that happens inside the traditional hours of worship and small groups at the church building.  We want our people to get the sense that what is really important about our faith is not what we do when we are inside the church building but what we do when we leave to be His witnesses. This is our missional DNA, regularly reinforced.

Other things worth counting:

  • How many times we shared the gospel with the unchurched
  • How many volunteers we are releasing into global mission projects
  • How many languages (ethnic and generational) we worship in
  • Number of missionaries or full-time Christian workers our church has released
  • How many churches our church has daughtered
  • New discipleship groups established in our homes

 

Surely there are other milestones worth celebrating.  But the point is that people need encouragement and missional stimulation, and one effective way is to show them the impact of their local body of believers. It is important they see what really counts around your church.  It is important they feel the outward tug of God.  It is important they understand the impact the Lord can have through them.  Week.  By.  Week.

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