I’m a huge sports fan – soccer, in particular – but don’t worry, this post isn’t about sports. However, let me start by saying that yesterday I watch an incredible soccer match. It was the final of the UEFA Champions League, perhaps the biggest tournament besides the World Cup.
Chelsea (England) played Bayern Munich (Germany). Coming in to the game, almost everyone picked Bayern Munich. They are a great team, but they were also playing in their home stadium, and Chelsea had 4 starters missing.
On paper, it looked like a sure Bayern Munich win.
Bayern Munich dominated the game. They had far more fans cheering for them. They had possession of the ball much more. They took way more shots and looked completely in control of the game. They had fewer fouls, and even got a penalty kick opportunity.
But they lost.
Why? Because the only thing that really matters is the final score. In the end, that’s all that’s measured in soccer. And Chelsea managed to win, in a shootout, and took home the trophy.
So bringing it around to our children’s & family ministries, we have to ask the question:
what really matters? What is the measure of our success?
Our ministries can look good on paper. We can have high attendance (the usual measure of success). We can have magnificent facilities. We can have fun and engaging environments.
We can have all the outward signs of success – just like Bayern Munich – but in the end, we can still be failing in our ministry.
So how do we measure success in our ministries? When you walk away from the arena of ministry, what is it that indicates you “won”?
That’s a very tough question to answer, because I don’t believe their is tangible, hard data that we can point to. We don’t have a “score” that we can point to. Yes, conversions, baptisms and attendance all matter (as do environments and child engagement). But, in the end, we are trying to measure life-change.
I would welcome feedback in the comments below as to how you measure success, and here are three questions we can start with to begin measuring our ministries:
- Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ & the Word of God the center of all we do?
- Are all of our programs designed with the purpose of deepening relationships – with God & others – rather than information & personal enjoyment?
- Is everyone involved in our ministry – parents & leaders, as well as children – growing as a result of their participation?
These are just a few questions we can ask in order to begin measuring our ministry. The measurements are subjective, at best, but they are there. The best way I’ve found to “read” the results is by listening. Listen to children, to parents, and to my leaders. What am I listening for?
Stories. When people are changing, when life-change is happening, people tell stories. What are the stories your children are telling about their time in your children’s ministry? What are the stories your parents are telling as a result of family ministry? What are the stories leaders are telling about serving?
Are they talking about what a great time they had? How wonderful the walls look? How exciting the games were? That they can say the books of the Bible? That the place was packed out today?
Or are they talking about how surprised they were at feeling the Spirit move in worship? Or that they have a greater understanding of grace and feel free from the guilt of their mistakes? Or that they learned how to better talk to their kids about the Bible? Or that they’re excited about sharing Jesus in school?
No, it’s not a “score” like you get in a soccer game. But it certainly is the score which truly measures your ministry.
Photo by aperture_lag.