Monday, April 6, 2009

Keeping Score (Part 2)

...Continued from last week

4. Conversions & Baptisms vs. Amoeba Movement
We've always kept score of people who make first-time decisions for Christ (as best we can tell) and people who make the decision to be baptized. While these continue to be important decisions that people make, we recognize that there are other important decisions as well. Spiritual growth isn't just about being "in" or "out" of a relationship with Christ. Both those in and out are engaged in a process, a spiritual journey. In our church, we relate that to an amoeba, where Jesus is the nucleus, and we want to encourage people to keep moving in toward the center. Someone who is hostile toward God or Christianity, for instance, may become open to engaging in spiritual dialogue as we demonstrate love toward that person. Someone who has been attending church for a while may decide to join a small group or get involved in serving in a ministry. These kinds of decisions--and others as well--are all important. Anytime anyone takes a step in their spiritual growth, we want to make note of that, and consider that a "score"--not count just certain steps.

5. Under Budget vs. Community Presence
Formerly, we would consider an event a success if it came in under budget. If the money that was spent was less than the money allocated, then it was considered to be used wisely--regardless of the outcome of those expenditures. But what we are realizing is that even if you spend only $400 of $500 that you could have spent, it still may not have been used wisely. In fact, it might be even better to spend the extra $100 if it will increase the credibility of our church in the community. For the extra $100, if we can increase our community impact and community presence, then we should do it. On the other hand, if we can increase our community presence for free, that's even better. There are many things that don't cost any money at all--time, love, service, kindness, humility, relational contact--and those are the things that we need to focus on, not the bottom line (even as important as the bottom line is). Those are the things that will help us win, regardless of the balance in the checking account.

6. Did we have fun? vs. Did we trigger a dramatic reaction?
In the past, we would judge the success of our events largely based on whether we had a good time doing them. If we enjoyed it, we would plan to do it again. While ministry should be fun, I think a much better gauge of success is whether we actually trigger a reaction in the people that we're serving. If nobody is changed or impacted, it really doesn't matter how much fun we have because the mission of the church is not to be an amusement center for the members, it's to bring people into an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus Christ.

So these are the ways that we're trying to change how we keep score. Only if we have a proper scoreboard can we know if we are actually winning (i.e., advancing the mission of our church). Each year, we want to do better than we did the previous year. And while there's nothing bad or wrong about things running smoothly, being under budget, having fun, and so forth, we've decided those aren't the right criteria for evaluation. They're not bad... they're just off-target. If we really want to win, we have to have the right tools for judging ourselves.

This week, we have the free movie for the community at the Michigan Theatre on Friday at 7:00pm. (Check out our website for more information on that!) Then we have the Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday (registration at 10:30am, hunt at 11:00am). Then we have the Easter services on Sunday at 9:30 & 11:00 with breakfast available before each service. We're keeping score! Let's see how well we do in engaging in relational contact, helping people move through the amoeba, bringing unchurched people, increasing our community presence and reputation, triggering a dramatic reaction, and claiming ownership of the various activities of our church.

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