Over a century ago, a young leader of the Church in India, the Rev. V. S. Azaria...
“What gets measured gets done.”
Peter Ducker was the one who coined this phrase and over the years, I have found this principle very helpful, especially in how I have seen it applied within the life of a congregation.
Diagnosing what’s important.
First, it is vital to diagnose what is subconsciously important to the life of a congregation. I remember one church I was involved with had a monthly report given by the pastor to the session. At the very beginning of the report, the pastor listed how many hospital/home visits, and counseling sessions he had done. This was the most important part of the report according to the session. This particular church viewed the pastor’s primary function as shepherd teacher and this presented a challenge when the church was ready to grow above 125-150 in worship attendance. Suddenly, the care of hospital and home visits needed to be spread to other people.
I have seen other churches print how much money was received the previous week and how many people were at church. Of course, this is certainly an important thing to measure, however by publishing it weekly in this way, it has the potential of communicating that all we really want from our people are butts in seats and bucks in the plate.
I have also seen this principle of “what gets measured gets done” be used to change what becomes important in the church. We have seen the fellowship indicate a desire to “baptize more than we bury”. This statement has been seen as setting the bar too low for some, but for others this has been a very helpful change of scorecard.
A while back, I received an e-mail from a church elder indicating that in the first 6 months of this year, after joining ECO, the church had baptized more people than in any single year of their 125-year history. Is this because ECO itself provided some great training and resources? While I wish I could say yes, the likely cause was simply that the scorecard was changed and that affected behavior.
What if we change the scorecard?
What if you began to change what gets measured in your context? Here are some ideas for some different sample measurements:
- What percentage of the congregation is serving using their gifts inside and outside of the church?
- How are our leaders growing in maturity and ministry skill?
- What percentage of the congregation is involved in a growing community? How well is that community enhancing discipleship?
- How do first time guest/visitors feel about their experience in our church?
- How many authentic friendships do our members have with those who aren’t Christian?
At ECO, in addition to a congregation’s yearly statistical analysis, we also have our congregations fill out a narrative on the health of their church as part of their annual report. These things can be difficult to measure because they require a greater depth of analysis and result in more than a statistic.
I hope and pray that by asking new questions, and measuring new things we will find a greater level of health and vitality in our congregations and in the movement as a whole.