How to Measure Ministry

hand with tape measure wrapped around it
Jennifer Burk via Unsplash

Service is notoriously hard to measure. This is true for every type of service: checkout clerks at Walmart, geeks at Best Buy, and nurse-midwives. And it’s doubly true when the desired result is fuzzy, controversial, or unstated, as it often is for clergy, educators, organizers, or musicians working in a church or synagogue.

When the job is helping other people, measurement is difficult. That’s why you’re so often asked to fill out an evaluation after you get service online or by phone. Employers—who tried for years to measure service work with the same stopwatch-and-clipboard methods factory managers used a hundred years ago—have realized it doesn’t matter how much time it takes to serve a customer if the result is that the customer posts negative reviews all over Yelp.

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Stop Worrying About Worship Attendance — Thrive Instead!

For a long time, clergy have taken credit when attendance rose and felt guilty when it fell. Most people assume that the best measure of a congregation’s spiritual vitality is the headcount at weekly worship. But some congregations have begun to think beyond that metric and focus more broadly about how their ministry transforms lives. As a result, they’re finding new ways to think about worship, vitality and effectiveness.

Why We Aren’t Learning

by Susan Beaumont

“What are you seeing out there that is working?” the pastor asked when we met for lunch. The assumption behind the question was that someone, somewhere had discovered a way forward, one that we might all benefit from knowing.
This era of congregational life calls for innovation and learning. We praise reinvention, yet our congregations aren’t doing much risk taking. We stay in maintenance mode and wait for someone else to discover a magic bullet that we can replicate.
Why aren’t we practicing what we preach? Why aren’t congregations everywhere taking more risks, experimenting and learning new pathways forward?

Taming the Bureaucracy Beast

by Susan Beaumont

The church needs innovation, experimentation and risk taking. The church has bureaucracy; inactivity in the name of good order and process. Senseless bureaucracy keeps us endlessly mired in reporting, approval seeking and communication. We end up with repetitive meetings, multiple levels of approval, over-reliance on procedure, and postponed decision making until everyone is informed and happy. What would it take to free ourselves from all of this and just get things done?

Goal-focused Evaluation

Many people flinch at the mention of evaluation, and with reason. Research shows that in many workplaces, the main effect of employee reviews is to hurt productivity by annually lowering morale. In congregations, staff evaluation too often is conducted as a popularity poll with anonymous respondents rating staff performance on the basis of subjective impressions. …

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