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How to Measure the Future of Your Church

In the church world, pastors typically measure the ABCs—Attendance, Buildings and Cash. 

There’s nothing wrong with measuring attendance, financial position, program enrollment and space. In fact, these measurements can help you better identify areas that are gaining traction and uncover important growth patterns. If you’re not already, I would encourage you to adopt some of these measurements in your church. 

However, leaders must understand a very crucial point: These are measurements of the PAST.

They only tell you where you’ve been—they don’t tell you where you’re going. Not only that, these measurements don’t give you a complete picture of health.

As a leader, you’ve got to do more than measure the past; you must measure the future too.

In other words, you’ve got to measure those areas that best predict where you will be six months, 12 months, 18 months and longer from now.

So how exactly do you measure the future? Begin by measuring:

1. Leadership development.

The development of leaders gives you the ability to expand your structure to facilitate ministry to more people. When you develop leaders, you’re investing in your church’s future as well as the future of your community.

Today’s leadership development is a predictor of future growth. A church will only grow to the level of its leadership.

2. Systems development.

Every organization has systems and processes. For example, a church might have a system for assimilating visitors, connecting people in small groups, training volunteers or hiring staff. These systems help a church run smoother, more efficiently, and deliver greater outcomes.

Systems development is a predictor of future behaviors. Because systems dictate the behaviors of your team, it is essential that you evaluate which systems are in place and measure how effectively these systems are fulfilling their intended purpose. Disney offers a great example of effective systems.

3. People development.

Churches tend to prioritize program development over people development. While the initial goal of a program may be to develop people, meet a specific need or solve a particular problem, programs easily move off mission. Too often, the purpose of a program becomes the existence of the program. In other words, a program exists to exist. When this happens, as long as the attendance is good, we assume the program is delivering life change. Deep down, we know this isn’t true. Just because people show up doesn’t equal life change.

If you want to measure the future, measure people development over program development. People development is about helping people grow to their full God-given potential in key areas of life. 

People development is a predictor of future health. Several resources have emerged to gauge individual spiritual health and growth such as Reveal and Monvee. You might check out these tools as a way to focus more on developing people.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you determine if you’re measuring the future:

  • How many potential leaders are you personally mentoring?
  • How many of your current leaders have an apprentice they are developing?
  • Is leadership development a high-priority measurement in every department with every staff member?
  • Do you hire staff to “do ministry” or to “equip people to do ministry?” Be honest! How would the behaviors of your staff make you answer this question (are they doing or equipping)?
  • How effective are your current systems at producing the behaviors you desire among your team?
  • Which systems have you identified as a priority to develop in the next six months?
  • How well are your current leaders employing your current systems?
  • Are each of your team members on a personal growth plan?
  • How often do you evaluate personal growth with your team?
  • Is your team growing together—that is, jointly engaged in learning and growth experiences that are stretching the team?

Question: How else can leaders measure the future?