Tuesday, June 16, 2009
This article has some interesting thoughts on how we measure the effectiveness of a congregation. Traditionally, measurement has focused on attendance and giving. Those are still useful numbers but they can be misleading in some instances. The author is advocating the idea that we should try to measure more qualitative things, such as congregational health, rather than quantitative this such as attendance and giving.
I have been a part of two churches that have had significant additions to their congregational health by subtracting numbers from their attendance. Mercifully, I was not part of the congregations when this happened, but I have enough contact to know what was going on. In one instance, the folks that left were impediments to growth. After they were gone, the church enjoyed a significant period of growth with new converts and personal spiritual development in the life of the congregants. Previously, that development was stunted because of the constant turmoil that had been present. The Kingdom advanced, and the church grew in numbers and faith in their absence.
My caution here is to not just focus on attendance and giving when assessing a church. Nor should we use our spiritual development for our laziness in sharing the Gospel. We can engage in navel-gazing and so focus on our own "Jesus and Me" conversations that we do not share the Good News with a dying world. It is a dynamic balance between these measurements, and one that is often difficult express quantitatively. But that balance is where ministry happens, and where lives are changed. Jesus had big crowds during his ministry, and at his death, it was a pretty small group there with him. But we don't judge his effectiveness based on the numbers at the end of his ministry. We judge it based on the change in the lives of his followers and the way they changed the world. We would be well-served to follow that model.