“People count so we count people.” It’s not that I disagree with that statement. I just think it misses the mark.
It betrays the fact that it defines success in terms of event attendance – as if the Great Commission was “go out, bring as many people as you can to your Sunday morning services and may the best church win!”
That statement is a problem for me because how you measure success will always define how you seek to achieve it. If the “win” for me is a full house on Sunday morning, my work is going to be bent around getting bodies in the seats one way or another.
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We’ve experienced some numerical success in our work. Recently, we’ve led in a team that worked with local churches to launch 7 youth outreach centers in 3 years and raise almost €100,000.00 to renovate and furnish them. Currently we see between 200-250 unchurched youth walk through the doors of those youth outreach centers every week. Numerically, that all looks pretty good.
But Jesus never asked me to submit to him impressive stat sheets.
That’s why we got into this. That’s what we’re after. We want to see lives changed by the truth of the gospel and the power of the Spirit.
And you can’t quantify that kind of work. How do you measure a life that has been changed?
But in the church, we’ve become obsessed with measuring either our outputs (what we do) or the wrong outcome (who shows up). Both miss the mark of our true aim.
So, in our work, we’ve made a shift.
We don’t want to focus on numbers. We want to share stories.
If the “win” for us, the desired outcome is that lives are changed, the only way to communicate those wins is by sharing the stories of the lives that have been changed.
- Who experienced life change this past Sunday or at your bible study or work prayer group?
- What is their name?
- What was life like for them before that moment?
- What caused the change?
- What is life like now?
- What did they learn about God in the process?
Those are the questions that matter to us. If you can’t answer them, then you might be measuring only your outputs or the wrong outcome.
So let’s stop aiming our efforts at numerical success. Let’s go out, lead others and let the Spirit use us to change the broken story of people’s lives into something beautiful.