Monday Morning Insights

Photo of Todd

    How Do You Measure the Success of Your Church?

    Bookmark and Share

    --The number of meetings that take place somewhere besides the church building

    --The number of organizations using the church building

    --The number of days the pastor doesn’t spend time in the church office but in the community

    --The number of emergency finance meetings that take place to reroute money to community ministry

    There are about 10 more that you can ponder here at BackyardMissionary.

    So… what do you think?  Any you really agree or disagree with?  What would you add or subtract from the list this class came up with?

    W. David Phillips had a great post over at about how to measure success in the church. He sets it up this way, "At my last doctoral class with Len Sweet last week, he posed a question to us that went something like this: Provide for me the metaphors that will describe how we measure success in the church in the future. We are prone to measure success by how many and how much. And we determine who is a great leader by how many and how much." What he shares next is the list his class came up with. It's a great list to ponder. As David says, your first reaction at some of the things on this list will simply be to react... Some will make you think. Some will push you a little. Many you probably won't agree with. But, thinking through some of these will make for a great Monday morning exercise!

    --The number of cigarette butts in the church parking lot.

    --The number of pictures on the church wall of unwed mothers holding their newborn babies in their arms for the first time.

    --The number of former convicted felons serving in the church

    --The number of phone calls from community leaders asking the church’s advice


    if you want a Globally Recognized Avatar (the images next to your profile) get them here. Once you sign up, they will displayed on any website that supports them.

    1. David Foster on Mon, June 30, 2008

      By chance, I blogged about this, at least on a week 2 week basis,

      check it out at

    2. Fred on Mon, June 30, 2008

      I think success of a local church is determined by God Himself, not us. The question is not whether we are succesful or not but rather , are we true to the Word of God in our preaching and ministry.

      Success is a subjective term and is being used, as I see it,  to mean ,“do people like it and are they coming to church”. It is pragmatic first and foremost. This is not Biblical. David Wells’ new book, The Courage to be Protestant is an excellent critique on this mindset. He explores its very foundations and beginnings and compares it wuith what Scripture actally teaches.

    3. James on Mon, June 30, 2008

      the church doing what God has designed us to do?  great post!

    4. Leonard on Mon, June 30, 2008

      Great list.  thanks for the post.

    5. Dan on Mon, June 30, 2008

      “Number of unwed mothers… Number of convicts…Number of…whatever”  All of the items on the list are still about numbers.

      Jesus already gave us the metric.  It is simply the one thing He commanded us to do… make disciples!

    6. Donnie Miller on Mon, June 30, 2008

      I count the number of families that did not have a church home before connecting at Trinity Family.  I count success not by overall attendance, but how many previously unchurched families are now attending. 

      I believe that if we counted that way, we’d probably rearrange what churches we considered successful.

    7. Leonard on Mon, June 30, 2008

      I think numbers is a great way to measure success.  Jesus said make disciples… How many?  As many as possible, from every tribe and nation… I think counting disciples we are making is awesome.  I also think counting the number of people the church is reaching out to, who may not have been there efore your church engaged them, the number of people who typically would have run to Jesus but run from the church and are now running to Jesus because of your church…  This is all a part of making disciples.  God seemed content to count the numbers more than once in the bible. 

      My soap box is not churches that count to measure success (see impact) but churches that have nothing to count.  Far too many of them today.

    8. Leonard on Mon, June 30, 2008

      by the way dan, those are not about numbers, they are about people.  unwed mothers, convicts, communities, organizations…  All about people.  Just has to do with how you see it I guess.

    9. CS on Mon, June 30, 2008

      Measuring success in a church is so hard.  You’re a pastor and preach the Word, people are convicted by the Holy Spirit, and your congregation grows.  Are you successful?  Conversely, you preach the Word, and false converts reject the Gospel, and your congregation wanes.  Are you successful? 

      I would measure success by simply doing what the Bible says—preaching the Gospel, making disciples, baptizing people, etc.


    10. Fred on Mon, June 30, 2008

      Amen CS. Jeremiah would have to be deemed to be a terrible failure if we would use these pragmatic ways to judge success. It is the way of the world, not God’s way. We are far to enamored today with success in terms of numbers. This is a modern way of thinking and that does not mean it is right in God’s economy.

    11. Leonard on Mon, June 30, 2008

      Hey Fred, don’t you think that using Jeremiah, an OT Prophet, who was told he would have no success before he started is kind of out of context as to what the church’s mission is today?  Jeremiah was not asked to make disciples, nor was he asked to pastor a church,  He was asked to preach even when no person was going to listen.  A very specific call to a very specific time and a very specific person.  Praise God Jeremiah was faithful and I believe at times we experience season when we must simply be faithful because the fruit is no in season as of yet. 

      Jeremiah would have been deemed a failure had he had a bunch of people follow since that was not his call.

    12. Sam on Mon, June 30, 2008

      In John 6, we see Jesus feeding the 5000 and then the next day when many came back to be fed again, Jesus laid down a “hard teaching” and many disciples left him that day. was Jesus not successful because of a decline in numer of disciples? If a church lost many of its members because a pastor preached the Gospel, then he would be deemed a failure by these standards. May I remind you, the way is narrow.

      Just because churches draw large crowds and “claim” converts does not define success in and of itself. Yes, the Bible talks of numbers but those are true numbers not “sign the card” or “walk the aisle” numbers that we see claimed today.

    13. Thogg on Mon, June 30, 2008

      True religion and I think true success shows itself in how we treat the orphans and widows.  How many people in your church are foster parents?  How many people have taken in young single moms into their home because they were kicked out of their home?  How many have allowed a widow to stay in the guest room because she doesn’t have the money to pay rent elsewhere?  When the congregation begins to share their space rather than only their money and time, I think we will see success.

    14. Leonard on Mon, June 30, 2008

      Sam, the writer did not say large numbers were the success, to make this about that primarily is not the point of the post.  The point of the post is what numbers you are counting.  So it is irrelevant if Jesus had 5000 one day and not another since that is not what the author is talking about.

    15. Sam on Mon, June 30, 2008


      Yes, but you said:

      “I think numbers is a great way to measure success.”

      Jesus lost numbers that day. Does that make Him unsuccessful?

      A local church could be adding to the universal or invisible church while experiencing no growth or even in a declining numerical state. This is what is lost in this conversation. The church that you may think is doing very little could actually having more impact for the invisible church than the church that is growing exponetially but yet having very little etermal impact.

      That is why numbers are not a good measure of success on a local church level. Appearances are not always what they seem.

    16. Page 1 of 3 pages  1 2 3 >

      Post a Comment

    17. (will not be published)

      Remember my personal information

      Notify me of follow-up comments?