How Do You Know if You’re Succeeding?

Let’s just assume God has called you to plant a church, a missional community, go multi-site or whatever. What are the key metrics you should track in order to know if what you start is succeeding?

I know some of you would tell me: we don’t need no stinkn’ metrics.” You would tell me metrics are the stuff of attractionalism and this is precisely what’s killing the church. That attractionalism has killed the church I would agree. (That will be the topic of other posts so stay tuned.)  But the fact is if your church planting or trying to start a missional community then you have a social enterprise underway. Social enterprises have a purpose. In order to know if our social enterprise is hitting the purpose to which it was created we ought to track some things about it. This holds true for gangs and churches.

Numbers help tell your story. While they must never become the point, understanding them helps you better understand your organizations. But what should we track? Here’s what I believe are essential:

  • Headcount. Otherwise known as attendance. What’s the difference between a church of 100 and a church of 500. Lots I think. And it come down to momentum and energy at our gatherings. People want to be part of something big. So yes, in this case bigger works. Track your gathering numbers.
  • Generosity. Like it or not if you have vocational ministers and you meet in a public space you’re going to need money to make it happen. You ought to measure and track weekly giving. We like to use per capita giving as an additional measure.
  • Leadership development. In our reproducing culture tracking the number of coaches, leaders and apprentices.
  • Service projects. How many people are engaged in serving the community and how frequently. While sometime difficult to measure, tracking the key events and attendance provides you a sense of how many people are seeing themselves as assets to your community.
  • Small group participation. We believe that small groups are a great place for life transformation. We track number of people regularly attending our groups.
  • Baptisms. Yes, baptisms but with a twist. While we count baptisms we also track staff vs. non-staff baptizers. The more non-staff people we have baptizing people, the better.
  • Church plants. We track both the people and dollars we send out to help plant new churches.

I contend you can tell a lot about your church if you measure these dynamics.

What about you? What key metrics are you tracking?

5 Things to Help Equip and Encourage Volunteers

Five things to help equip and encourage volunteers:

  1. Make the ask personal. When you have an opportunity to share, make the ask in person. People respond well to personal invitations.
  2. Meet with your volunteers. Invite them to coffee or treat them to lunch just to hear about their lives and how you might pray for them.
  3. Show your appreciation. Tell them you appreciate their contributions in writing.  For instance, you might Challenge yourself to write three thank you notes every week. You can use the time you’re writing to pray for your volunteers.
  4. Celebrate volunteers. Celebrate volunteers publicly whenever possible.
  5. Volunteering happens in seasons. Understand that people serve in seasons. Life happens and people come and go. You must build this fact into the rhythm of your serving culture.

What are some things you do to help encourage and equip volunteers?

Ask the Right Questions

Have you ever considered the importance of asking good questions? Asking good questions is essential for the church planter. I could go a million directions with this one so let me keep it simple.

  • Ask Open-Ended Questions. Open-ended questions get people talking. When people talk they’re building relationships. Example: Tell me about the time when Jesus became real for you?”
  • Minimize the closed-end questions. Information is good but it doesn’t lead to conversation. Example: “Is Jesus real for you?”

Helping people navigate their spiritual journey requires you get to know them. I am convinced relationship leads to transformation. You’ve got to give people the opportunity to talk about and process the gospel. Learning how to ask insightful and open ended questions is therefore essential.

It’s Always About the Mission (Filter)

I want to be clear: this glue stuff serves the mission.

I spent yesterday afternoon hanging out with church planters. I was reminded that the business of church should never–ever–become more important than the mission.

In my context this means that every new initiative and idea must pass through the mission filter. At Restore, we keep it simple. Does X proposal, idea, innovation, piece of gear etc. ultimately help people find their way back to God? If the answer is yes, then it’s on the table. If it doesn’t, we toss it out with the trash.

It’s always about the mission.

Celebrate That Leadership Happens in Seasons

So you get a call from one of your key leaders, someone who is passionate about Jesus and serving others. She tells you that she’s entering a new season in her career and needs to step back from leadership for awhile. This is someone who has had a great impact on the people around her. She will be missed.

What do you do? Celebrate of course! That’s right. Celebrate. Because leadership happens in seasons.

Simply celebrate all of the great things that the leader accomplished. Sure, we will miss all of her gifts and abilities, but God has done something through her and so celebrate.

It’s OK for people serve in seasons. We church planters need to get our heads around the fact that people will come and go. And when a leader says their season is over, don’t take it personally–don’t fret.  Celebrate all that God has done through the leader and trust that God will provide new leadership for the next season.