Tuesday, July 20
In 2007, Willow Creek Community Church decided to ask the entire congregation a number of compelling questions related to its effectiveness in fulfilling the Matthew 28 mandate of “making disciples of all nations”—which has always been the goal from the very beginning in 1975 when Willow Creek set out to “turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Christ.” What emerged in the process was a validated objective way to evaluate church strategies, programs, and methods through a primary lens—disciple-making effectiveness. In his enthusiasm over the discovery (now known as REVEAL), Bill Hybels shared the “wake-up call of his ministry life!” at The Leadership Summit 2007.
Some leaders thought the wakeup call had to do with invalidating 30 years of seeker sensitive ministry… ridiculous! The truth couldn’t be farther from that.
The wake-up call came from the learning that occurred when church programs and initiatives were rigorously evaluated through a truly objective “disciple-making” lens. Historically, most if not all churches, including Willow, have measured many things like service attendance, strategy/program participation and completion, giving, baptisms, small group involvement, and Sunday school attendance. These great inputs should be tracked, but none of them actually measure the one output that matters most to a church—disciples formed in the image of Christ!
Leading a church without measuring its disciple-making effectiveness is like a corporate CEO getting updates on inputs like headcount, tenure, and turnover, but never profitability—unimaginable! It’s virtually impossible for any leader to lead well over the long haul without having a way to measure effectiveness on the outputs that matter most, but churches do it all the time.
After more than 30 years of ministry, Willow and a growing number of churches, now have a more objective way to annually evaluate the impact its decisions have on disciple-making effectiveness. Now, more than 280,000 people from 1,200 churches have also engaged in measuring what matters most.
So…what’s your lens? How do you measure effectiveness? As a church leader, how do you know your decisions are helping fulfill the Matthew 28 mandate to make disciples of all nations? How does your church allocate resources and set strategy with confidence that it will have the right outcome? How do you really know beyond individual opinions? Do you track inputs or outputs? Participation or transformation?
Moving beyond measuring participation to assessing transformed hearts isn’t easy or perfect, but not trying and flying blind as a leader of a church is much worse. Coming alongside leaders on this issue of “transformation” is increasingly defining the heart and work of the WCA.
By: Jim Mellado (@JimMellado)