What are you Measuring – Expanded?

When I posted this on my blog I had no idea I would get some many emails asking for more clarification on how to go about deciding on what to measure and how to actually do it. So here does the expanded version of my blog post.

The old adage “you get what you measure” holds true both in business and in the church. Obviously it might appear to be easier to develop measurement metrics for a business than a church, but is it? I don’t think so.  All it takes is a pastor and staff that is clear where the church is and where it wants to go.

Measurements must always be connected or born out of your vision. For that reason measurements might vary from church to church.  But all measurements begin with having and owned and managed vision. “Owned” means that the staff and key leaders have bought into the vision.  “Managed” means the staff and key leaders live out the vision in their lives and decisions they make.

Let’s say your church vision is “everyone a missionary.”  Based on that vision you develop your metrics.  Here is one way you might measure that vision (in the order of importance).

·         How many new converts do we have this month?

·         How many people do we have deployed in ministry in the world this month?

·         How many of our people are in small groups this month?

·         Do all of our small groups have a mission they are involved in each month?

·         How many new leaders are being mentored this month?

·         How many new leaders emerged this month?

·         How many tithers do we have this year compared to last year?

·         What is our worship attendance compared to last year?

·         How many new churches are satellites have we established this year?

·         How does our income compare to the last three years?

Each of these elements can be measured. What is hard to measure is the spiritual development of people. But if you content that we are the nearest to Christ when we are giving the cup of cold water then you can sort of tie this measurement to the second question in the above list.

But having a list of things to measure is just the beginning. The key question is “Do your measurements lead to action and implementation? Metrics that only inform are useless. For example: what is your course of action if the data tells you that the number of new leaders this month is below what you consider to be acceptable.  First, you have to have set a measurement that is acceptable. Second, you have to have a plan in place to respond if the number of new leaders falls below what you consider acceptable.

When I was pastor and the number of new leaders fell below what was acceptable I would do three things: one, I would find out which leaders didn’t have an apprentice at the moment (an apprentice is someone being mentored for a certain ministry or a new convert who is being spiritually mentored); Second, I would see if there was any pattern between leaders without apprentices and the staff person they were accountable to. Third, depending on the results of the first two inquiries I would decide if either the leader or staff person needed further training or replacement.

Surely you’ve noticed by now that measuring results always involves holding people accountable to agreed up goals.  If your leaders are not open to accountability, then measurements don’t hold any water. Measurement with accountability leads to a useless collection of data much like you see in government waste today. 

One of the big mistakes pastors make when measuring important items is that they get lost in the data.  The more you measure the easier it to get caught up in a “data dump.”  So you need to measure just a few important things and have some system in place to make use of the data. You have to be able to drill down in the data and take appropriate action but you don’t want to make the data your master.

So what are you measuring and how do you apply accountability to the results of your metrics?