Foundations for Measuring Success

Hopefully as a church leader, you’re taking some time to breathe this week after all of the extra work you did preparing and living out Easter at your church. In the days to come, there will also be a chance to debrief as you look back on what went great and what needs improvement for the future.

But to successfully analyze the work you’ve done, there has to be a willingness to have meaningful conversations about how you did. Here are a few questions you can ask about your team to see if you’ve got the foundations in place to truly evaluate the work you do.

Did you set real goals you can measure? It’s hard to know how you did if you never set expectations before you started. Without goals, it’s easier for you to just say, “I think it went well.” Some goals are easy to measure—like number of visitors or meaning conversations carried on between attenders and staff after the service. Other things, like how engaged people were during the service, are little tougher to gauge.

It’s okay to have a mix of goals that are easy to measure and a little more anecdotal. The key is determining what you’re going to measure and what makes a success before you get started.

Do you have a culture where constructive criticism is okay? Far too many churches have a ban on saying anything that sounds remotely negative, even if it’s constructive. I’m not sure why this happens. Possibly it’s insecurity. Or a passive attitude that churches can do no wrong. Maybe it’s because critique can lead to tough conversations about overall vision. I’m sure there are plenty of reasons.

Yet a church will never grow creatively if everything is always labeled as great and we only focus on the positive. Don’t get me wrong. You need to acknowledge and celebrate the awesome things that happen. Absolutely don’t just focus on the weaknesses. But you need to know where you can grow, too.

Some of the most creative people I know aren’t afraid of acknowledging failure. Creativity comes with risk. Not everything is a home run. A lot of good can actually come by building off your failures.

On the other extreme, negativity for no reason of justification can’t be tolerated either. It’s toxic in a team environment.

Do you really care about changing things? There’s a difference between keeping traditions and staying with the status quo. Traditions aren’t a bad thing. Good ones evolve and can be flexible in how they’re expressed. The core of a tradition triggers emotion for people in your congregation.

Status quo is doing the same thing you’ve always done regardless of how effective or ineffective it is in connecting with people. If you find yourself saying, “Well we’re going to do this because that’s what we’ve always done,” it’s time to examine your church culture.

Society changes and the church should, too. It’s not about compromising beliefs. Instead, it’s about being a relevant, helpful and impactful part of our communities. You can’t do that if you’re not thinking about change.

We have a great privilege as church leaders in helping people see how God is and will be active in their lives. With that responsibility comes the opportunity to find creative ways to present God’s story. But it also comes with a risk that we are actually doing things that are putting up roadblocks in someone’s way instead of helping them get closer to God. We’ll never truly know how good or bad we’re doing until we’re wiling to have honest conversations about it.

(The church pew image is courtesy of Shutterstock.)

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