Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Measuring Ministry

At my old church I was working on a model of measurement built around the Great Commission (Matt 28:16-20) and the Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:1-23). (I never got to use it but maybe a version will surface at Uni Fellowship.) A question from Steve from at the Communicate Jesus blog prompted me to post this.

The Great Commission is the big (vaguer) picture, against which we measure several things:

  • General attendance over a year and a straw poll of what that attendance over a year looks like. (eg 100 people on average per sunday 75 under twenty five and 25 over twenty five)
  • Number baptisms, professions of faith or memberships over the year.
And so we stay real:
  • Numbers of attenders who are no longer part of the part of the community
  • Number of members who are no longer part of the part of the community
Plus an important miscellaneous measurement:
  • Number of flyers distributed and Bibles given away

The Great Commission is about reach of the gospel these measurements should give us idea of the ministry has reached over the year. (The data could then be compared with other data such as the local census data or a similar church/ministry.)

The Parable of the sower is about longitudinal (personal) growth:

Asking a representative sample (hadn't figured how to do that yet) the same questions every year, even those who have left the church under either positive or negative circumstances.
  1. How have you seen God's grace in your life this past year?
  2. What theological/christian book have you read this past year?
  3. Are you a part of a local congregation?
  4. What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
  5. What do you remember about church or ministry x?
We need to keep in mind that we don't ultimately know who will Persevere but we can see fruit of God's grace in people's lives.

Some general contextual observations. There's nothing dirty with measuring ministry, God told Abraham he'd bless him with as many descendants as there are stars. However as we parse the data we should keep God's gigantic plans (eg David's census or Ananias' field). God may be weakening or strenghtneing the visible church in a particular region and no amount of data changes that dynamic.