How do you measure success in a church? How do I know if I am a “successful” pastor?
I’ve been pondering those questions for years, now. So naturally, I was intrigued to get an offer for a free e-book from Ministry Tech Magazine entitled, “Tracking Ministry Success: 3 Trackable Metrics for Measuring Ministry Health.” However, I was disappointed after downloading and reading the book because it is promotional material for software that tracks attendance and giving.
The software and the book fall into the age-old trap of measuring success by the 7 B’s–Buildings, Budgets, Bodies, Baptisms, Books, Blogs, and Broadcasts. While attendance and giving are important numbers and pastors and church leaders should track them, they are not indicators of success and health. They only tell how many people were present and how much they gave.
I agree that churches need to constantly evaluate whether or not we are healthy and hitting our intended target. But attendance and giving do not tell if people’s lives are being changed, if they are seeing answers to prayer, how many people are sharing their faith, whether their knowledge of God is growing, if they are worrying less than previously, whether they are gaining victory over besetting sins, if they are more compassionate and forgiving, how many people are serving and using their gifts, and whether they are faithful to obey God’s commandments. Those are the factors that indicate if a church is successful or not.
The book I’ve found most helpful in this regard is one by Kent & Barbara Hughes, Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome. I reread the book every few years to be reminded that success is more than numbers.