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Metrics Count

Another leadership maxim.


“What you celebrate, you perpetuate” In other words, the things that you give attention to and which become prominent and which you honour…those things will of course reoccur. They will grow in importance. Parents use this principle in trying to reward good behaviour in the hope that it becomes habitual. Football managers use this principle to allow a team to develop a style as a pure footballing team or a bunch of tough-tackling thugs. Leaders use this principle to shape the corner-stone identity of an organisation.

Not only do you perpetuate these things…you chase them. If, as a new, young church (for instance) you party hard because you attract 20 new people to a worship service (and why wouldn’t you celebrate that? That’s a good thing, it is what you had worked and hoped for) - then subconsciously you will get excited about attracting another 10. Or. What if you could get to 50? Maybe a hundred?! That would certainly merit doughnuts! And before you even noticed it, you are now chasing attendance and counting filled seats.

So the question becomes. “What do you celebrate?”

Early on in the life of St Marks, I and the people who were trustees at the time, sat in a pub (I don’t remember which one, but it did have very sticky tables) and asked the question. “What does success look like? How would we know if we achieved it?”

I knew I did not want to fall into the trap of judging ourselves as a church by either comparing ourselves to others, or by the number of people who turned up on any Sunday, or the amount of money we had in the bank. That way there be dragons.

The things we came up with on that evening were things like:

  • Volume in the room: If we are growing community, there will be lots of chatting and it will be hard to get everyones attention. It we are bad at growing community, then it will be library-esque.

  • Speed at which children enter the venue when we gather, and position of teenagers in relation to their parents! If kids are running in, excited to see people and confident to be together, we are doing something right. If parents are having to physically drag their teens in to the building, then we are doing something wrong!

  • Number of people we are serving in a way which gives them hope. (This was before Make Lunch, never mind St Marks Meals)

  • Confidence people feel to say what they really think in discussion around tables rather than feeling as if they have to toe a party line…especially in relation to faith.

  • Number of / Health of relationships people have with friends outside the church village. If we fill your diary in such a way that you have no time for family, friends, neighbours, hobbies, then that is a huge fail.

It might sound silly or disconnected, but choosing to measure these things dramatically changes the culture and course of a church. These things can only be owned by a group. They cannot be manipulated by a charismatic leader and in fact each help pull power and focus away from the leader and towards the Village and active discipleship.

About the author

Paul Oxley

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