If you’re counting heads without considering what’s happening in peoples’ hearts, you might not be as successful as you think.
Measuring success can be tough in ministry. Attendance numbers can be helpful in some ways but those numbers alone don’t mean we’re accomplishing what we’re aiming to accomplish.
Adele just held back-to-back sold out concerts in the American Airlines Center here in Dallas. Texas high school football is in full swing packing thousands of people into stadiums all across the state. The downtown square in my town was packed this past weekend with people watching coffin races in celebration of The Day of the Dead.
Anyone can draw a crowd, but the simple presence of a crowd doesn’t necessarily mean a movement of God.
So, how do we measure success? Maybe the best place to start is by asking: What is our goal?
In it’s simplest form, our goal is to take people who are far from Jesus and move them closer to being fully devoted followers of Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 3:5-6 Paul says, “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” The part that grabs my attention is the last part of verse 6 where he says, “but God gave the growth.” In the midst of all of the things we do as leaders, ultimately God is responsible for all spiritual growth both on an individual and a corporate level.
So, what are some signs that God is giving growth?
Here are 5 questions to help you measure your ministry’s success. All of these questions are based on things that Jesus says the Holy Spirit is responsible for doing.
Do the people in your ministry have a growing esteem for Jesus? (John 15:26, 16:14)
- Are people engaged and participating during worship?
- Who do people in your ministry brag about the most? Do they brag about you (or someone/something else) or Jesus?
- Are more and more people coming to faith in Jesus through the impact of those in your ministry?
Do the people in your ministry have a growing regard for God’s Word? (John 14:26, 16:13)
- Are people seeking out the opportunity to be discipled by older, wiser believers?
- Are people asking more questions about what they are reading in the Bible or what they are hearing taught from the Bible?
Do the people in your ministry have a growing conviction of sin that leads to repentance? (John 16:8-11)
- Are people coming forward to confess sin?
- Are people finding freedom from addictions and sin habits?
- Is there a growing sense of welcome toward the truth being preached even when it doesn’t feel good?
Do the people in your ministry have a growing love for the Church? (John 13:35)
- Are people taking ownership in your ministry and serving?
- Are you seeing more people notice the needs of others in the church and then taking the initiative to take care of those needs (as opposed to expecting the structures and staff of the church to do it for them)?
- Are more people getting connected in and faithfully attending small groups?
- Is there less and less of an attendance dip on bad weather days ? Is there less and less of an attendance dip when there are other conflicting events?
Do the people in your ministry have a growing commitment to God’s mission? (Acts 1:8)
- Are people living missionally within your community?
- Are less and less people seeing “missions” as something that only a few are called to and instead something that all are called to?
- Are you sending more people out, not just on short-term mission trips but on long-term mission assignments?
- Are more people taking the initiative to disciple younger believers within the church?
In the same way that 2 Corinthians 13:5 challenges us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith, we should examine our ministries to see if we’re truly accomplishing what we’re aiming to accomplish.
Austin Wadlow serves as the college pastor at First Baptist Church in Denton, TX. He teaches at a weekly Bible study called Overflow (overflowdenton.org) as well as for other camps and retreats. You can connect with Austin via Twitter: @austinwadlow