categories: ChurchMetrics, church, community, global church, leadership
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May 27th, 2009

by Craig Groeschel

41 comments (+ Add)

Sending Out

For years, my emotions rode the roller coaster of attendance. After a strong week of attendance I felt good about myself and life. After a bad week of attendance, I felt like the world was crashing down around me.

I was consumed with bringing people in. Never once did I lay awake wondering why we hadn’t sent more people out.

About ten years into leading Life Church, I started thinking about how big we were (according to some standards), but how little we’d actually accomplished (according to God’s standards). Compared to the real needs of our communities, we had not made a significant difference.

That’s when I got excited about a new measurement of success. Instead of “defining the win” by how many people we brought in, what if success was measured by how many people we sent out?

  • How many can we send into our communities to serve?
  • How many can we send into the world to evangelize those without Christ?
  • How many can we send to help start new churches?

Rather than just celebrating those we bring in, let’s celebrate those we send out!

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  1. May 27, 2009 at 5:42 am

    This should be one of the new questions Pastors ask each other at conferences.

  2. 2Mark Barrentine
    May 27, 2009 at 6:31 am

    I am excited this conversation is happening. “Sending Out” is most appropriate for gauging the health of a local church. As long as the sending is an organic response to relationship and discipleship (as Jesus’ example in the Gospels) and not as the result of census, polling data, program participation or some other abstract number that can be tweaked if the question is “asked” right.

    Blessings to you and to each local community God has led you to establish. May our Heavenly Father in and through Christ Jesus our Lord, by the power and working of the Holy Spirit, bless you and keep you and bring you to a place beyond anything you could ever imagine. Amen.

  3. May 27, 2009 at 7:00 am

    Determining how many we sent out will not produce a different paradigm if we fail to create dialogue and build community. There are many who have been “sent” who simply teach how to do church instead of being the church.”How many” will always produce a false measurement.

  4. May 27, 2009 at 8:03 am

    I was moved by something that Erwin McManus wrote in one of his book (I do not remember which one) but he talked about how Mosaic had over half those who attend regularly go on at least one mission trip. I want to be the pastor of a church that is leaving the home base to go out and make a difference in their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.
    Thanks for the reminder of what is important.

  5. 5Kris
    May 27, 2009 at 8:13 am

    What are you doing to make sure that you are successful in this area? I’m particularly interested in how you mobilize your people to serve the needs of the community. How, specifically, is it measured?

  6. 6Tim Boyd
    May 27, 2009 at 8:42 am

    I really appreciate looking at the wins differently. I have to ask, however, why are we still talking about “how many” we are dealing with? It seems like instead of feeling good about having a lot of people attending our worship services, we are trying to feel good about having a lot of people serving. Why does it still have to be about numbers?

    I absolutely love this blog, lifechurch, and the book “It.” I love it because it seems like you are asking different questions and that is awesome.

    Why still numbers?

  7. May 27, 2009 at 8:47 am

    There’s a public school, on one of the busiest intersections in our city, that has the following words on their sign. “Thanks to Church at the Falls for beautifying our gardens.” That’s a big time win for our church and it took us awhile to get there. We are really focusing on the sending out…and the serving with no strings attached. I know that this is a great and open door for people to see Jesus. I am thankful for my church - they are really understanding the value of serving others. I cannot quantify the impact that serving beyond the “church walls” has had on our people, but it’s huge! I would have never known unless we prayed, looked for opportunities and stepped out.

    Don’t wait for the ideal opportunity just step out. Don’t give up if what you try “seems to fail”. Just keep sending, serving and showing Jesus.

    Thanks Craig, for helping us clarify the wins. Looking forward to more of your thoughts.

  8. May 27, 2009 at 9:01 am


    This is a thought-provoking topic. I have some curious questions regarding these measurements.

    1. How many people from a church need to be doing each of these three “send-out” activities in order to be deemed a marker of success? Is there some set percentage of people above which would be a success and below which would be a failure?

    2. Do you believe an individual’s level of involvement in these three activities is an accurate indicator of their own spiritual health?

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

  9. 9Larry C
    May 27, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Craig, I love it! Man what a great measurement. I feel like this is a very serious shortcoming of the church.

    I’m eager to see what the next couple of measurements are!

  10. May 27, 2009 at 9:19 am

    An interesting study is to look in the New Testament and see how many times Jesus says that He is “sent” by the Father. Then, later, Jesus says to us, “Just as the Father sent me, I am sending you..” (Go in to all the world). I think that was Jesus’ measure of not just success but obedience. Thanks for the great post, Craig!

  11. May 27, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Thanks to all for thoughts…I appreciate Craigs desire for us to be challenged and think about why we do what we do.
    To anyone interested - Granger Community church ( does a fantastic job of this - they call it “Entermissions”
    I’m reading a book called “The Hole In Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns President of World Vision - very good so far.
    I’m haunted by a question I once heard someone ask, “If your churched disappeared would anyone in the community notice or even care?”

  12. May 27, 2009 at 10:46 am

    “How many” is always coherent to our impact and execution.
    When Jesus spoke he had people around him always, mobs of people, the numbers game can be a drainer if its the NUMBER you seek instead of the IMPACT of EACH number(lives) and celebrating that. Its always perspective and God cares about the heart.

  13. 14Lex
    May 27, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Good stuff. I think the next time someone asks me how many people we have I’m just going to ignore the question and tell him about the people we’re sending out!

  14. May 27, 2009 at 11:07 am

    In the book of Acts it gave numbers - it talked about how many!

    * Acts 2:41
    “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”

    I mean that’s one example…but my view is we just all need to chill! I don’t find that it can ever be wrong praising God for numbers! Heck! I praise Him for not allowing me to get ticks on me when I go camping.

    So, as long as we’re praising God, let’s keep on! “How many” questions simply remind us what God is doing…

    I think Craig can ask those questions because he can know that he is thinking in numbers in order to praise God (rather than for selfish gain).

    Really like the thought of today’s message!

    God bless!

  15. May 27, 2009 at 11:18 am

    [...] more: Sending Out - : swerve. what would jesus vote [...]

  16. 17JT
    May 27, 2009 at 11:20 am

    I don’t see a problem with “how many” questions. You look at the book of Acts and it talks about #’s added daily. Their is a temptation to become consumed with #’s and not with depth however.

    The other temptation for American Evangelicals is to create more and more “programs” for people to be sent, which in and of themselves aren’t bad.

    What could be bad though is that this can sometimes create a “checklist” type of mentality, where people do the program, check it off the list as having served and go home feeling good about themselves instead of really developing a heart and lifestyle for service that impacts communities, changes neighborhoods and changes lives.

    Instead of compartmentlazing our lives we should be living out the gospel with word and deed at work, at home, in the community etc. It’s about making disciples, not just making ourselves feel good because we “did” something.


  17. May 27, 2009 at 11:25 am

    It’s not asking how many that is the problem. It’s when we simply measure success only by how many we have on Sunday morning. There are a lot of other “how manys” that help us evaluate our effectiveness. Here’s a few: how many are reading their Bibles daily, how many are serving the poor, how many are loving their neighbors, how many are tithing, how many are in LifeGroups, etc. We can’t neglect how many because the how many points back to lives that are being transformed.

  18. May 27, 2009 at 11:39 am

    I’m currently in a season of discovering that I have been asking the wrong questions, and finding answers that still leave me feeling that I’ve missed the point. Jesus put the cookies on the bottom shelf for us when He said go and make disciples of all the nations. Too often, we try to box them up and put them out of reach for our selves. Thank you Craig for running after His heart. You are asking the right questions. It is my prayer that the Christ-centered momentum building with this website will not be contained by our conversations here, but will overflow into the streets of our own influence. God bless you all - lets send out!

  19. 20Tim Boyd
    May 27, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Thanks for all the answers on the “how many.” It seems that as long as the goal isn’t to feed our egos, numbers can be a great way to measure the success of all of our work and the focus we have.

    It’s cool to be a part of this community. Thanks again.

  20. 21Sherrye
    May 27, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Well Craig,

    I just want you to know that Lifechurch has been such a huge blessing to my life and my families life. We are saved b/c we found God again inside of Marriages saved you can add one more to the list, MINE. Of people serving you can add one more to the list, me, I am now serving after a year of attending in Stillwater I am serving in life kids. My oldest son who just graduated 5th grade is ready to start serving in lifekids as well. My 4 kids have all been baptized at lifechurch as well as my husband on Easter sunday. When you visited the Stillwater Campus and saw the slide show of the baptisms from Easter Sunday the last 3 slides were of my husband and my youngest daugther.

    I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to have you as my pastor speaking God’s word to my family each Sunday and inspiring myself and my family to be fully devoted followers of Christ.

    I can’t wait for what God has instore for my family’s future. I am ready for myself and my family to be sent out to help do God’s work in our community and in the world. I think that our churches today need to be taking care of communities and showing God’s love not just to each other each Sunday but in the neighborhoods and communities and in the world.

    It used to be the church people would go to if they were hungry, it used to be the churches that ran the homeless shelters. Now everyone depends on the government to take care of people and I think God’s church needs to be taking care of people to show his love. We need to show people to depend on God in hard times and not on the government.

    Anyways, thank you again and I LOVE LIFECHURCH.TV!

  21. May 27, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    this is powerful!

  22. May 27, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Thanks for your transparency Craig. As a fellow pastor, I fell into the week-to-week litmus of effectiveness based on attendance numbers. Thanks for the amazing reminder!

  23. 24Larry Saunders
    May 27, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    In addition to asking “How many are we sending out?” we could also simply ask “How well are we doing at sending people out?” The answer to that certainly includes answering the “how many” question, but opens it to include other aspects of the quality of the job getting done. More important than the exact questions - how many or some other - is the shift of defining the win to look at how we send people out.

  24. 26Gdub
    May 27, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    This is a message of the times … has it’s been said before “it’s not how many your church seats, it’s how many does your church sends” keep the body accountable Craig … Christ will!

  25. May 27, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Great post Craig! One of the things I like most about LifeChurch (among MANY things) are the micromissions we do. My passion is missions and serving. I served in Nicaragua and Costa Rica as a missionary for a while and still have that same passion to serve others. These give me the opportunity to do just that…to go out into the community and serve. It is so rewarding to see the look of hope in peoples eyes.

    I am a Switch leader at the South Oklahoma City campus and it has been a tremendous blessing for me to be able to disciple and send my mid-high girls out into the community and for us to serve side by side. It has completely changed their lives. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be sent out.

  26. May 27, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks for your insight! I’ve been having those same thoughts . . . what difference are we actually making? It’s THE question, isn’t it?

  27. May 27, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    If “numbers” and “how many” are the wrong questions to ask and the wrong measurments to have, I wonder if we will ever stop counting the offering—-or is money more important than people? I dont know maybe I just stretched my application a little too far:)

  28. 30Sherrye
    May 27, 2009 at 5:02 pm


    You are welcome. I could go on and on about the great things that are happening in our lives from God and through Thank you for all that you do.

  29. May 27, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    The Master was apparently counting in the parable of the talents. The shepherd must have counted when he had 99 sheep but was missing the one. It is intuitive to count and we tend to count what is most important to us. Could failure to count represent poor stewardship? I like the idea of counting tied to the mission of the church. If the mission of the church is focused on loving God and loving people, it only seems to make sense to measure (to count) the behaviors and practices that stimulate progress toward the mission. Craig, your questions seem to address Love God/love people issues. My concern is that failure to count is a very easy way to slip into justification for methods and programs that we are emotionally tied to yet have little impact. Good stewardship would suggest that some form of measurement be in place to insure we are utilizing the resources God has entrusted to us wisely. Counting makes this possible–obviously the key is “what” we count. Good post Craig.

  30. May 27, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    What a good reminder to look beyond the attendance everyweek and instead look at the growth of individuals as the minister outside the church. Pastors are to equip the believer to minister…and ministry is not limited to the church. It was nice to read a testimony from one of LIfe Church members in the comment section.

  31. May 27, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Thanks for the post! Our church has many overseas students, and every year we are sad about the involuntary “sending out” because a number of these converted/trained leaders need to go back to their home countries once they graduate from university. It’s a sad thing emotionally and relationally because of the relationship that’s been built up between us, and the fact that the local church hasn’t got much resources to grow …. But thanks for putting up such a post, it’s a timely encouragement. We should not only embrace the involuntary sending out, but should pray for a voluntary sending out from our comfort zone.

  32. 34Lon
    May 27, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    one thing I think i heard mcmanus say once was, what if we could send out so many people, we ceased to exist?

  33. May 28, 2009 at 5:50 am

    Oooh, I love this! Such a great way to redefine the success of a church: how many are sent out rather than brought in.
    This is a favorite principle of my dad’s: Want to grow your church? Gain a heart for the world.

  34. 36Tim Boyd
    May 28, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Great post Stephen. I am really glad I went ahead and asked the question that has been bothering me about numbers and counting people. I have heard some great wisdom in these posts. Thank you.

  35. May 28, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Hooray!!! And Amen! Thanks for this word. Surely our success as a church has more to do with changing lives and less to do with counting noses!

  36. May 28, 2009 at 10:13 am

    This is a vision God recently gave me as well. We count the attendance to the worship service for two reasons. To know how much we are growing in worship and to place that number against those we have attending Sunday School.

    I was at a pastor’s conference and one of the speakers was talking about his home church. He explained that his main source of income was preaching at things like that conference because his church was about planting other churches. He continued to tell us that he had about 200 members in his church, but that they were getting ready to send 75 of them out of the congregation to go and plant another church. That church had set a goal to plant 10 churches in 10 years.

    That blew me away. It made me realize that in the almost 10 years I have been at my current church that we had not even participated in 1 church plant. That really convicted me. We are now looking at partnering with a church plant and possibly starting our own church plant.

    But you are exactly right; the church is supposed to be about multiplying the kingdom and not making mega churches.

  37. May 28, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    This is an awesome point. Churches pride themselves on growth because the essence of the body of Christ has been lost in their chase to fulfill their own vision and be the best. Ephesians 4 has been skewed to only focus on the local body and not about THE CHURCH as a whole. We need to send people out not keep them in selfishly for our own arrogant,prideful gain.

    Men’s vision are successful to men not to God.

  38. May 28, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    WRT the measuring and numbers thing….in the words of Bill Hybels…facts are our friends! If we don’t measure what we do, we can’t improve what we do…and following Jesus is all about continually improving what we do so that we can continue to be effective.

  39. May 29, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    [...] Sending Out [...]