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Two Secrets of Effective Churches: Measure and Celebrate!

What are the top three most important metrics you track at your church?

If you’re like most churches, attendance and offerings are probably among the three. Maybe conversions and baptisms are in that group? Whatever you measure, recognize it’s a big deal! The reason that’s important is because you resource what you measure. Your time, money and efforts are focused on what you deem important. Test me on this: My guess is that the top three get at least 60 percent of your budget. Am I right?

RiverTree Christian Church recognized that 70 percent of their budget was going into their weekend services. And it was working. They had grown to be a megachurch with the best show in town and they were still growing. But they wanted to shift their emphasis from Attracted/Connected to Committed/Discipled. They were concerned that they were creating more consumers of Christian goods and services than they were disciple-making disciples. So they shifted their emphasis to measure results outside the walls of the church. And they set a goal to shift from 70/30 to 30/70 (they are at about 50/50 now).

One of their measurements included a reduction in abortions in the Akron/Canton area. They didn’t do it by picketing Planned Parenthood; they did it by engaging the community in a positive way. They resourced counseling. They volunteered to serve on boards. They promoted adoptions and over 100 underprivileged kids have been adopted by RiverTree families. They measure the reduction in abortions—and it’s working!

Here’s a corollary principle: “What you Celebrate gets Repeated.”

A pastor asked me to speak to his church staff not long ago. They just had a gentleman join their staff with a wonderful story of redemption. He was born in Vietnam to a GI father he never knew and a mother who died of cancer while he was still a young boy. He was adopted by a Christian family in the U.S. and he eventually came to faith in Christ. After a successful period in business, he was joining this church staff at a significant cut in salary.

It’s a story as wonderful as you can imagine. And yet I said it was one they can’t celebrate. Of course, they looked at me like I had lost my mind, so I went on to explain. Celebrating this story on its own subconsciously suggests that, if you want to serve Jesus full time, you have to be on staff at a church. In other words, you’re not really serving Jesus 100 percent unless your paycheck comes from the church.

Of course, that’s not what they wanted to promote. We need “the church” to not just be another vertical domain of society; we need the church to cut across all the domains of society. And they can communicate that by celebrating the story of a lady who didn’t take a promotion because she felt called by God to the department she was in. Or the guy that didn’t move to another city for a better job because he felt his neighborhood was his mission field. The church recognized the full message they wanted to send and began to celebrate what they wanted repeated.

Take time to figure out what you want to answer to God for as it relates to your stewardship of the church. What do you want to celebrate? Do you want measurements that are related to creating consumers of Christian goods and services, or do you want measurements centered around making disciple-making disciples?

What’s most important to you, really?  

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Bill Couchenour has a fervent desire to help ministries improve their effectiveness at connecting their communities with Christ. He has served as President of Cogun, a company committed exclusively to helping churches develop the right ministry space, since 1994. From 1982 to 1994 he launched the Florida District of Cogun and served as District Manager. Bill has a business degree from Youngstown State University, an MBA from The University of Tampa.