Whether it likes to admit it or not, every church measures stuff.
Sure, spirituality is hard to quantify. Of course, the Kingdom of God is not a business. Yes, the church does not have traditional goods, products, inventory.
But we all keep score.
The two most traditional church metrics are finances and attendance. “Rear ends in seats and offering counts”.
We don’t like to acknowledge this but it’s true. Many of the churches that have the greatest impact – spiritual or otherwise – enjoy robust attendance growth and are able to pay their bills and invest in new infrastructure, staff and outreach programs.
But, something is going on. A sense that a church can have lots of people coming and a healthy bank account or endowment and still not be engaging its own people, much less its community.
What if the problem is that we are using the wrong measuring stick?
We believe that the most important metric a church can track is engagement.
Are your people engaged with God, each other, and their community?
Now, there is a very real temptation to believe that the way to up the level of congregational engagement is through techniques and tactics. In fact, it starts at a more elemental level.
Your level of engagement is shaped by the practices you follow. And your practices are shaped by your principles, which flow from the culture you have crafted.
DIS-engagement happens when the people of your congregation are not connected with your values and mission because your practices are not congruent with your principles. It’s not about tools and tactics. It’s about having a church that is congruent – where the principles claimed match the principles practiced, and everyone – staff, leaders, congregants – are aligned.
When individuals are at odds with the principles that are embraced by the church, the activities and outcomes necessary for mission success will always be compromised. Likewise, the same is true of teams within the church.
The church leader’s role is marked by constantly asking the principles question, navigating competing principles and discerning the difference and impact between operating or default principles versus core stated principles. Organizations, teams and individuals must also have congruence between the church’s stated mission, vision and objectives. Any misalignment is a result of incongruence in principles, in mission, in direction, or in execution.
How do you know if you are on the right track?
These are some possible ways to measure engagement:
Are people connecting their faith to their everyday lives in practical ways?
Are people involved in serving others tangibly – outside the church?
Does your community look at your church as a resource or a drain or, most likely, just part of the furniture of the neighborhood?
Are people using their spiritual gifts in ministry – both inside and outside the church?
Do people say they have significant relationships in the church?
Do people feel personally connected to the mission and values of the church?
Is the spiritual center of the church in the large gathering or – hopefully – the countless smaller, more relational gatherings that take place (not just traditional small groups but cohorts organized around mission and service as well)?
That’s not an exhaustive list, by any means. But we hope it captures your imagination and leads you to dream for engagement outside of rear ends in seats and adequate offerings? And to consider if your practices are rooted in principles that will get you to that God-desired end.