“So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12
I’ve long been a proponent of measuring results. I believe if you don’t measure the results of something the odds are you’re not going to be as successful as you would be if you kept stats on what your ministry is accomplishing.
Throughout my pastoral ministry I kept monthly stats on the following things:
- Number of adult baptisms
- Number of people in small groups
- Number of interns in small groups
- Number of new small groups
- Number of children and youth in Sunday School
- Average worship attendance
- Income for the month
- Number of people in weekly ministry
Each month I would compare these figures to the preceding month and year. If any one of them was lagging behind, I would have a conversation with the appropriate staff person about how to improve results. If the declining trend continued for three months, I would have another conversation with that person about the seriousness of the situation and ask what resources or training the person needed in order to keep their job.
Now, I know some of you might be thinking that’s a bit hard nosed. But too much is at stake to ignore decline. If you don’t measure the results of what you’re doing, how do you know what kind of a steward you are with the gifts God has given you? You can’t. If you don’t measure the results of what you’re doing, how do you know if you are succeeding or failing?” You don’t. If you don’t measure something, it isn’t important to your ministry. We keep score on our sports because winning is important to us. Well, winning the spiritual battle far out-trumps any sport. Don’t you agree?
One of the most vexing things I have dealt with over the years is most pastors’ unwillingness to be held accountable. I’m not referring to morals or character, but to simply keeping stats on their ministry. Are most pastors averse to accountability when it comes to numbers? It appears so.
One of the reasons I put so much emphasis on measuring results is because the Book of Acts chronicles the growth of the early church by using numbers. Acts 1 says the church went from 120 to 3120 overnight. Acts 2:47 tells us, “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 4:4 says that so many heard and responded to the news that 5,000 were added not counting women and children. The traditional estimate is that in the first year after Christ’s death, 120,000 were added to the Church. Anyone who questions the importance of numbers needs to re-read Acts, especially chapters 1 and 2. Luke, the writer of Acts, understood that numbers represent people being added to the Kingdom.
So why do so many pastors find it hard to measure their ministry with hard numbers? Here are some of my guesses.
- We don’t believe it is important to measure results. We think we just have to be faithful and all will be well.
- We don’t believe in measuring results because you can’t measure faith.
- We don’t like to be held accountable.
- We don’t want our results known.
- We aren’t proud of our results so we won’t measure them.
- We just don’t see the benefit in keeping score.
Whatever reason best explains your not keeping stats on your ministry, let me encourage you to do so. It could change the course of your ministry.
Question: How do you measure results in your church? How has keeping these measurements benefited your ministry? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
The accountability here is laudable. Hard, but important. In addition to this, I would add discipleship. Small groups are not necessarily making disciples. While it can be hard to measure, how many people are being trained in ministry? How many are memorizing scripture? How many are in some form of discipleship group that goes beyond the typical small group?