categories: ChurchMetrics, church, future, innovation
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May 26th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

23 comments (+ Add)

Changing the Scorecard

Reggie McNeil wrote a good book called Missional Renaissance, Changing the Scorecard for the Church. His subtitle explains in six words what I’ve been feeling, but unable to express succinctly. For many churches, it’s time to “redefine the win.”

For years, the most important measurements of success for churches in my circles were attendance, salvations, baptisms and the budgets.

(These measurements of success were often reflected in my conversations with other pastors. “So, how many people did you have at church last Sunday? What’s your annual budget?”)

In my mind, those traditional markers of success will always be worthy of measuring, but the scorecard for tomorrow’s church must be broader.

  • Bigger crowds don’t necessarily mean bigger success. (A church could offer free beer and draw a crowd.)
  • Bigger budgets (leading to bigger buildings) don’t necessarily equal bigger success.
  • Salvations and baptisms would surely be celebrated in heaven, but these celebrations should be the beginning of success and not the end goal.

This week I’ll write about three other ways to measure success.

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  1. May 26, 2009 at 7:58 am

    The tease for this week has my interest up! Just my thought but obedience has to be part of the success equation.

  2. May 26, 2009 at 8:03 am

    I believe this is right on target. I don’t think this is just a symptom of individual churches so much as it is an insight into the Church as a whole in America. It seems that over the last few decades we have defined “win” as Financial, Political, and Social strength. Honestly I don’t think people even started worrying so much about baptisms and attendance figures (they have been dropping for a while now) until the Money started fading too. It is interesting that when we focus on God’s Message He will often allow us to have financial, political, and social success; but when we focus on those three we lose them AND we lose the power of His Message as well.

  3. 3Dwight Meeks
    May 26, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Craig you got it correct again! The church needs to disciple people. The old mentality of at least get them saved isn’t enough in the world controlled by the devil. We need warriors for Christ who will stand against the evil. We don’t need a Christian police force bashing the lost and hurting. We need to be a strong tower in the midst of the storm. We need people who can stand with others when the storms overtake their lives. We need people who will reflect Christ and not themselves. When the church gets to that point it will be a mighty force that will bring about change.

  4. 4Mike
    May 26, 2009 at 8:24 am

    Not too long ago, I heard interesting insight on this topic.

    A pastor of a large church commented on how doctors typically diagnose patients during assessments–not in terms of how healthy they are, but in terms of how sick they are.

    I think there is a lot of wisdom in this observation. Though no church is perfect, all churches exhibit a varying degree of purity. The question becomes “what can we improve upon”? The answer comes–not by looking for where we’re doing well–but where we are lacking.

    Do we celebrate success? Yes! But not at the expense of minimizing the threats to the body of Christ.

  5. May 26, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Craig: excited to see this coming up! I read Reggie’s book about 2 months ago and liked it a lot. I am one of those who got wrapped up in the “success” trap of old. All it caused was comparisons, headaches and heartaches. I am glad to be off that merry-go-round and following Jesus and knowing I am “successful” in His eyes if I am doing what He wants. Go for it this week!

  6. May 26, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Our staff has intentionally decided that we will measure the success for our church by discipleship. After someone accepts Jesus, how are we doing in helping them to grow in their relationship with Christ? Are their lives really transformed? Are they showing fruit as God prunes them and they are nourished with good Biblical teaching. Are they being assimilated into the church and finding a place to connect, build relationships and serve? We are examining this in the whole church, birth to adults. Yes, numbers are part of the measure of succuss but only a portion. Great post as always.

  7. May 26, 2009 at 9:42 am

    This should be good. I get really tired of talking about numbers when church leaders fail at talking about the long-term impact of their kingdom work.

    Interested to hear what you’re metrics are…

  8. May 26, 2009 at 9:51 am

    I no longer ask for or look to see our Sunday morning attendance until Monday or Tuesday. I do this because it is too easy for me to live and die by our numbers and to overshadow the work of God in individuals lives. My struggle is that, big numbers on the surface mean success and low numbers mean, well failure. Not the truth, so not knowing for me is better. The only time I ask our team to let me know the numbers on Sunday is if we break a growth barrier so that I can celebrate with our team.

    Look forward to your insight this week.

  9. May 26, 2009 at 10:10 am


    Sounds like you’re going through a new season?

    Am excited for what God is doing in you and through you! And am always praying for you!

    I will definitely be blessed through this week…I try to measure too much by earthly terms - but with something unearthly, that is impossible. And to think I use to allow it to get me depressed…

    Praise God!

    Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come! (I’m listening to Revelation Song by Gateway Worship)

    Love you all, love God!

  10. May 26, 2009 at 10:13 am

    By the way, I greatly appreciate your willingness to say what needs to be said…even when it may upset people. That’s the beautiful thing - you’re living for the King

  11. May 26, 2009 at 10:26 am

    somebody’s sent me a tweet a few weeks ago that I haven’t been able to shake:

    “Don’t tell me how many you’re bringing in…tell me how many you are sending out.”

    May this thinking consume us all!

  12. May 26, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Dear Craig,
    Thanks for the great post…would it be possible for you or others to share what their “soft” measures or how we can determine if our efforts are causing people to be more like Jesus?
    It’s funny how the old can become the new again. Bill Hull wrote a book a while ago called “The Disciple Making Pastor” which talked about this very thing. That success should not be measured by bodies, bucks, and buildings. As a church planter I totally agreed with this. I believe that hearts turned towards Jesus and people taking their next step with Christ is a win. However, when doing church it’s really hard to have impact in lives without volunteers(bodies), you need funds(bucks) to do ministry, and since our community is in North East a physical location(building) is important. I feel like I’m always in tension with those things. They aren’t measures of success, but they can be tools that allow the church to be more effective. A part from God’s Spirit and His Word, and His working none of those things in themselves would make a win. One thing we as a 4yr old church plant have struggled with is how do we measure that our actions are producing the results we believe God would have for us. Some we some “hard” measurements like attendance and how many people have crossed the line of faith. We’ve had some “soft” measurements like how many people are serving. I look forward to hearing thoughts and suggestions.

  13. May 26, 2009 at 11:29 am

    I’m interested in hearing what Craig has to say (always) but Rick Warren measures this by how many “bases” people have completed (see “The Purpose-Driven Church”). As people move from Membership to Maturity to Ministry to Mission they are growing spiritually (according to Warren).

  14. May 26, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    yo craig and others. good post by matt saying “whats old is new again.” history repeats and repeats which is the coolest thing about history and …. ummm HUMAN BEINGS.

    since C-unit encouraged the forum here, i strongly urge all of us to take a look at our “mission statement”. What is your goal for your church vs personal. separate them and clarify your course.

    history repeats, so i strongly encourage you to get your hands on some books from the 60’s and 70’s because the Jesus Movement is kosher today. if your too old to understand kosher, then what i am communicating is relatabiltiy…..

  15. 16Lex
    May 26, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    “but these celebrations should be the beginning of success and not the end goal.”

    Oooh. Right on. Looking forward to this week.

  16. May 26, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Great post and I am stoked about the upcoming article. As a “newb” to this forum, I wonder if you could address the stages of a the process as well. Years ago, I heard Bill Hybels challenge those that might be called to a “Jeremiah” ministry. To plow and till but to never see the tangible results as others would see in the future. It challenged me to say the least, to the core. Would I still be as passionate if the “bodies, bucks, and buildings” (thanks Matt) never manifest in a way that we would all love to see? I have the feeling that your article will adress some of these issues. Thanks for your encouragement and leadership!

  17. May 26, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    This is going to be a great week. Looking forward to it. Rick Warren says “All healthy churches are growing churches but not all growing churches are healthy churches.” Hurry up Wednesday–want to see the next post.

  18. 19Bradkeen
    May 26, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    My thoughts on “soft” measurements of effectiveness. A way to measure Christlikeness of a church is 2 fold.
    1. The quality of relationships between people in the church. Jesus said that love was the way the world would know that we are His
    2. The practical service of the campus or church in their local community. Pure and undefiled religion is this taking care of the widows and orphans

    May seem to simple for some but i think they are good measures of the heart of the church

  19. May 26, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    For me the “soft” measures require leadership to pay attention to conversations and be involved beyond Sunday morning. Several “soft” measures from the past few months would be:
    1. A lady my wife has been spending time with who comes in the door smiling looking forward to church. For years she came with her head down and thought everyone hated her.
    2. A couple who last year were talking divorce because of an unfaithful spouse. This year they are dating each other every week, giving God glory for healing their marriage.
    3. This morning a man called me and surrendered all his computers through X3 Watch because he is done fighting the porn battle on his own.

    All of these folks are becoming more like Jesus. I can’t put them on a chart and definitively say they are “fully devoted” (whatever that truly looks like). I can say the they are more like Jesus today than they where before.

    That being said, my secretary knows to hide the “hard measures” from me until the middle of the week. By nature I can obsess over the traditional measures of success. I am trying to come to a place of letting all the “hard measures” be viewed through the lens of the “soft measures”. I don’t know if that makes sense or not. I have been conditioned for almost 20 years to produce numbers and those numbers meant success. You can tell yourself all day long you want to change how you measure success, but my reality has been it’s hard to break the mental model I lived by for so long. Love the conversation and am looking forward to rest of the week.

  20. May 26, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Craig, I just finished reading McNeal’s book - I loved it. He captures so well the value of culture-shaping leadership and the church’s need to focus outward and to help people grow. One of the challenges of the scorecard is moving beyond simply an “organizational” scorecard to a “personal” scorecard. For example, an organizational scorecard asks, “How many people are attending a Bible study.” The assumption is that Bible study attendance equals success and that participation in a Bible study will drive personal growth. While growth may take place in a Bible study, perhaps a better scorecard question (one that is personal) would be, “How many people have developed a personal growth plan?” This makes growth unique, customized, and personal. While I’ve participated in my share of small groups and classes, the greatest transforming practice I’ve embraced is the practice of personal growth planning accompanied with accountability. When the church shifts its scorecard not to exclude organizational measurements but to include personal measurements, progress will be made. Look forward to the continued dialogue.

  21. 22Andy
    May 26, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Wow! I can’t wait!

  22. 23Larry C
    May 27, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Very intersted to hear this one!