Since the 1970s, my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers have won six Super Bowls. The game has changed dramatically from Jack Lambert to TJ Watt, but football is full of metrics and analysis to help a team celebrate, learn and prioritize action.
Points win the game, but it is measured in yards, turnovers, and tackles.
Throughout this blog series, we are exploring the metrics of church leadership. Check out our previous posts in the series: The Path to Meaningful Metrics and 4 Principles for a Healthy View on Church Numbers.
The Great Commission implores us to make apprentices of Jesus. That’s how we win the game! But it’s next to impossible to measure with a number.
Good metrics are the yards, turnovers, and tackles of church life. Metrics don’t tell you the game’s outcome but give clues about your team’s progress and work.
ChurchOS (and its metrics) fights to minimize poor evaluation standards, so church leaders move beyond intuition and anecdotal evidence as their primary evaluation tools.
Good metrics empower you to do three things:
1. Good metrics give you moments of celebration in the monotony of ministry.
Most of us are conditioned to focus on end results and outcomes. This delays all celebrations in ministry until someday and creates a grinding culture.
(Fans cheer for big plays and first downs because their team is making progress. If fans only cheered for touchdowns, the game would be much less fun.)
We still regularly hear church leaders lamenting how things “used to be good ole days of 2019.” This complaining denies our current realities, stifles innovation, focuses on things out of your control, and kills celebration. (Celebration TIP: Have a team member run a report on all new families to kid’s check in the last six months. Our hunch is that you will be surprised about what God is stirring in people.)
We can not over-emphasize the need to celebrate progress and effort in 2022-23, and good metrics help you find bright spots of celebration.
2. Good metrics offer opportunities for strategic learning.
Measuring the same thing consistently and persistently allows you to learn from your activity, not just your outcomes. This is the key to continuous improvement.
For example, many churches now use weekly blogs to connect with their people. Most send out the blog, never analyzing the open rates or clicks. This is a missed learning opportunity.
We know one organization that sends weekly e-mails using and repeating keywords in their subject lines. This lets them see what topics (keywords) resonate with their people. From this information, they create initiatives to help people.
Good metrics aid the learning process.
3. Good metrics help align prioritization.
You could do so many good things, but what must you do next?
Non-profits often grumble about their limited resources to accomplish their mission.
We have felt that tension a thousand times over our years of ministry, but we have learned that limited resources also have a huge upside–they force us to prioritize.
The ancient Scriptures are littered with examples of God doing great things with limited resources. For example, God asks Moses to deliver the Israelites from slavery. Moses is concerned about his lack of resources for the mission. God says, “What’s that in your hand? We can work with that.”
And since Moses lacked abundant resources, he had to focus on what he could do with what he had.
Having good metrics shows you what activities are producing the best results, forcing you to focus your energy and efforts on what is producing fruit.
When we work with churches, we typically begin with a two-day evaluation and discovery session. We dig through the numbers, the stories, and the history to help the church unearth where they are and where they are going.
Then we help them create a list of 5-7 strategic action projects to help them double their kingdom impact. The final phase is to pick a couple of those items to focus on first as their top priorities.
If you have good metrics, you can routinely engage in this activity.
In our next post, what to compare the metrics you are using to. (Hint: it’s not the church down the street or in another city.)