How you measure up as a leader is largely determined by what it is you measure. It turns out, one of the differences between an average leader and a great leader can be found by looking at what they put on their spreadsheets.

Actually, that’s a bit misleading. Most of the important measurements don’t actually fit on a spreadsheet.

The average church leader looks at two or three things. Not coincidentally, they’re the same things that the bureaucracy… I mean their denomination… tends to be interested in.

Of course, the first key measurement is how many members they have. Let’s face it, the pastor of a 500-member church sounds a lot more prestigious than the pastor of a 200-member church, even though the difference in average worship attendance between the two churches might be negligible. Membership numbers, in most churches, can be described by Mark Twain’s aphorism that there are “Lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

An average church leader pays very close attention to the difference between income and expenses and begins chopping the budget if any red bleeds through the page.

And finally, an average church leader measures average worship attendance… which, of the three, is by far the most important. But it’s still one of the things that an average church leader measures.

Great church leaders measure different things and they measure the things that appear on both lists differently.

A great church leader doesn’t care much about membership because it almost never means anything. Many large churches (and new church plants) don’t carry membership rolls at all. Instead, these leaders have learned that what really counts is how many leaders of ministries they have. Great church leaders keep a very close eye on the number of those in the church who are committed in ministry and in mission.

Great church leaders care when the budget bleeds red, but they are less concerned about chopping than they are about effective allocation. They know that when money is funneled to the right places, the church will grow. Great church leaders also understand that the Finance Committee doesn’t exist to penny pinch or to prune the budget, but rather to ensure the funding is there to do effective ministry.

Great church leaders do pay attention to the worship attendance, but the numbers they’re looking most critically at is the number of first-time visitors who attend each week, and the number of first-time visitors who become returning guests. They know when those number slide, there’s a serious problem.

And though there are other important measurements, the last one I’ll mention is this – and it’s the most important measurement of all: Great leaders count adult baptisms. They know that biological growth will no longer sustain a church, so these great leaders keep tabs on adult baptisms because they know that each one represents someone who is new to the faith… or at least new enough to have made a radical commitment.

Great church leaders make other measurements as well. They are ruthless in measuring the effectiveness of every ministry the church is involved in. If any ministry isn’t producing new disciples or growing disciples into demonstratively better disciples, they do whatever it takes to chop that program… even if it raises a howl of protest. In addition, those ministries that prove to be effective receive increasing support to enhance their effectiveness even more.

These are just a few of the measures made by great church leaders.

Question: What else have you found valuable to count that is helping your church become increasingly faithful and effective? Leave your response in the Comments section below.