What do you count?

count-von-count-sesame-streetI had the chance to hang out at my house today with eight incredible church planters from all over the country. We spent the day kicking around some questions they sent me a few days ago, so I thought I’d share some of their questions and my answers here on the blog. Let’s start with the counting question:

What are some measurable things we need to keep an eye on in the church that we might not currently see value in?

If I were leading a church I would count four things:

1. Attendance
It is popular today to say that attendance doesn’t matter, but it does. If you don’t have people you don’t have a church. Bigger numbers don’t mean a better church, but small numbers mean people are going away and there is a reason. So I would track attendance, I’d just resist the urge to brag about it on Twitter. (Yes that was a shot at you, you know who you are.)

2. Giving
Giving indicates growth both as a church and as an individual. If giving is increasing then there is growth happening, and if giving is shrinking something may be out of whack. Not always, but often. The two most important giving numbers are the giving per adult (I like annual giving per adult, it’s easier for me to understand), and year over year total giving. Week to week and month to month is meaningless.

3. Leadership Pipeline
Who are the leaders being developed? Every staff member should be able to name two or three people they are developing as their successors and to describe exactly what they are doing to develop those leaders. This should be a main discussion point at least one a month when you sit down with your leaders. I would have a scoreboard that lists ever major leadership position in the church and the leaders who are being apprenticed in each position.

4. Discipleship
Are you  making disciples who make disciples? That seems to be the point of doing church. If we aren’t making disciples we should sell the buildings, stop leasing the schools and go fishing. A couple of maxims here:

What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done
You have inspect what you expect

To measure discipleship you have to define what a disciple looks like and then ask the people if that is who they are becoming. To me a disciple is someone who serves the local church, prays consistently, reads the Bible daily, engages in biblical community, actively participates in community transformation and develops other disciples. I wrote about how I would use the acronym SPREAD to measure this type of disciple here.

One of the glaring omissions from my list are baptisms. I think baptism is a huge deal and essential in the life of a Christ follower. The challenge I have with using baptisms as a major measurement is that it is easily manipulated. A decent preacher with a pond and megaphone can drive up the dunking number with a well-timed “spontaneous” baptism. The more important number to me is how many people are becoming disciples who make disciples.

So how about you? What do you  measure?

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