There are lots of things that a church can measure to know if it is on track.
This is not one of those typical articles that is an argument to say that churches should stop tracking all of this. In fact, quite the opposite.
Tracking things is important. When we track something, we are essentially saying that the thing we are tracking is important.
The deeper question is why? Why is this thing we are tracking important?
For example, if a church tracks attendance, a great question to as is why? What is important in knowing the attendance from week to week? Is it tracked because….well…that’s what you are supposed to do because every other church you’ve been to does this? Or is it tracked because it is important to know if attendance is rising? Why is that important?
Being clear about these things is important. And tracking typical organizational metrics can be just fine too. There are some important organizational metrics – that’s not the issue. Churches are really good at tracking many typical organizational metrics.
Churches are often pretty good at tracking some typical church metrics too – how many sick have been visited in the last month is a good example. I’d say this is important too potentially.
The real issue comes down to this – what a church measures matters. It signifies what the church values. What a church measures tells me more about the culture and mission of the church than just about anything else.
A big challenge is trying to measure something that can’t be measured – the intangibles. These are things like – measuring the relationships within a church community, or measuring how welcoming to visitors a church is. The challenge here is to find something that can be measured that relates to the intangible. A way to do this is to figure out what is really important in knowing this information. Another question to answer is – how will we know when relationships within the church community improve? What are the signs that signify that the church is more welcoming to visitors? Once you nail these down, now you have something to measure and track. Of course, these are all lagging indicators.
Even better is the leading indicators – those things that you want to measure which will tell you information about what is going to happen. These can be tough to figure out, but not impossible. If we stick with the sample goals, here are some questions you might want to ask to discern what the leading indicators could be – What are the things that we think will cause a strengthening of relationships in our church? What are the things that we know that will make the church more welcoming?
Each church is going to have different answers to these questions because each church is made up of a unique set of people with unique values and a church with a unique mission. The neat thing about this is that just going through this process has the potential to bring a church closer together.