A New Ministry Scorecard?

A New Ministry Scorecard? May 29, 2012

A New Ministry Scorecard

In his most recent book, The Lean Startup, Eric Ries wanted to discover why some startup companies succeed and why others fail. His hunch was that most fail because they measure the wrong things. Startup companies focus on statistics about the millions of hits on their website or thousands of tweets per day. But as Ries points out, these are “vanity metrics,” useful in making us feel successful without actually saying anything about our overall impact or longer-term success. Ries says, “Vanity metrics are designed to make your competitors feel bad about themselves and also reveal nothing about your business.”

For some time, we have talked about the need to have new metrics for the Church. Traditionally, we have measured a church’s health by the number of members in the church or the average giving per family. Increasingly, those metrics point more towards who we were rather than who we are today. You can see the problem when you ask two questions of church leaders today:  “How many members does your church have?” followed by “how many people actively participate in the life of your church?” The gap between those two numbers is growing wider and wider.

We need new a new scorecard. We need new language to reflect the new ways we are forming and sustaining community. Today, our scorecard might look something like this:

New Scorecard


% of people who can articulate a clear sense of vision and purpose for the church Knowing why the church exists and what difference the church is making in the world is one of the key indicators for motivation, impact and growth. Congregations rarely grow unless the vision is owned by the larger gathered body, not just the leadership.
% of active participants in all areas of the life of the church Active church participation acknowledges the new reality that people may be active contributors in a church without seeking formal membership or serving on a board or committee. It also acknowledges that Sunday morning worship is not always the primary connecting point for participants. They may be a participant in a small group and never attend Sunday worship.
% of first and second time guests Measuring first time guests remains important as an indicator of your marketing effectiveness but an equally important number is how many people return after a first visit. Growing churches generally have 20% of active participants are people who have joined the faith community within the past year.
% of active participants below the age of 40 Growing churches engage the generational spectrum and have a balance of younger and older participants.
# of externally focused ministry opportunities vs internally focused management opportunities You can also measure this by looking at the # of bylaw pages or the # of hours your leaders dedicate to meetings about the management of the church. Thriving churches understand that people are transformed by ministry, not management.
# of entry points into the faith community (small groups, worship, website, etc) Historically, people became involved in church through Sunday morning worship. Increasingly, people connect to church through small groups, web ministries and other “front doors.”
# of new ministries/churches started as church plants or satellite ministries Just as elephants give birth to elephants, we believe that churches give birth to churches. Healthy organizations multiply either in new churches or in new ministries.
% of budget dedicated to ministry compared to building maintenance and mortgage Too many of our churches spend the majority of their budgets on building maintenance. Yet, strong churches work to keep ministries central to their budget narratives, limiting institutional maintenance to no more than 35% of the overall budget.
% of diversity in the faith community As we live in an increasingly globalized world, embracing diversity is a core value of thriving churches.
# of followers on Facebook and other social networking sites In a recent study released by Faith Communities Today, Scott Thumma shows that growing churches have robust, engaging online ministries and use technology to connect with people.
# of community ministry partners In a 2010 edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, authors noted that in order for churches or non-profits to have significant community impact, we have to partner with other organizations with shared, common goals.
# of ministry failures vs. successes Thriving churches take risks and experiment with new ways of shaping ministry. Every church should require that their leaders make at least 12 mistakes per year, and one of them should be big! Learning organizations innovate and adapt.
# of continuing education hours by staff and key leaders Thriving churches need entrepreneurial leaders who can balance the pace of change and spot moments of opportunity. The 2008 FACTS survey shows that churches that encourage their leadership to engage in continuing education grow faster than those that do not.


How is your church doing when we look at it through this lens? What might you add to this list? As we midwife the emerging progressive church, recognizing and celebrating new insights will be more important than ever. What does it mean in your setting to be the church in the 21st century? We are explorers in a new world, charting a new path as the people of God and learning from one another along the way. Share your insights, reactions and ideas on the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/progressiverenewal.

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