Vol 12 No. 4 Measuring All the Important Stuff

Dear friends,

I want to touch on the difficult subject of how we measure, keep track of, and reflect on what God is doing in our midst. I want to do that for three very simple reasons.

First, when it comes to measuring things many people treat measurement in the same way C.S. Lewis observed that we view the Devil… we either ignore the evil one or are a little too attentive or even obsessed by him. Some of our churches, indeed some of us, are enamoured with numbers or even threatened by, stressed or fearful of them. Let’s try to develop a broad, healthier and more mature attitude towards reflecting on what we are about together.

The second simple reason for talking about this is that such a discussion is often limited to specific times and places like church meetings. Any topic that is not part of the culture and everyday conversation becomes marginal to our life together. That would not only be a shame it would also endanger our community’s health by avoiding some of the larger picture of our life together.

The third reason for talking about this area is that our vocabulary for measuring and reporting is limited. We need to expand, deepen, and become of greater character than simple dollars and attendance.

So I want to begin our conversation on this topic by offering some brief points for thought:

  • As Christian churches we are not to default to the Home Depot slogan of “more saving, more doing” without also being folk committed to “more prayer, more listening to God.”
  • God-given stories and testimonies are essential parts of the life of the church.
  • There are times we should clearly celebrate, mark and remember. For example, baptisms, coming to faith, dedication of children and parents, funeral and memorial services, and renewals of commitments.
  • Money is important; watch well how we receive it, teach about it, ask for it, commit and account for it, and give thanks to God for it… Having said that we are not the world nor it’s values – money is never the last word.
  • Does your church honour the Lord of the whole scriptures for the whole people of God or do you find a lot of selectivity that avoids major parts of the Bible?
  • Do you welcome the stranger, the neighbour, and the visitor, or actively or passively discourage growth?
  • If your attendance is down is that because folks are coming less frequently, or is it because there are fewer people, or is there a larger concern here? Is this important for you or do you not care? Seriously!
  • Do you ask the quantitative (numbers) questions?
  • Are you committed to being attentive to the stories of the Holy Spirit?
  • Are you open and courageous to ask the “so what” questions? Do you invite and embrace them?

    These are some sample primers… Only a beginning.

    I did a whole Masters thesis on this topic, but never began to find all the answers… I landed up with a lot of good questions though!


    In Christ,

    Jeremy Bell