Ask Dave, pt. 5: Measuring Success


This is part five of a series entitled, ‘Ask Dave.’ Recently I asked my friends on Facebook what they would like to see me write on for my blog. Here are my final three questions.

Question: How do you measure success in the church? Money and Attendance are easy but don’t seem like they provide a well-rounded measure.

Dave: Two important questions the pastor must answer are, 1) How will I define success? 2) How will I measure success? You start with the definition and then develop how you will measure.

Our Christian culture still measures success by numbers, and more specifically, Sunday morning attendance. The assumption is that if your attendance is going up or if you have a large and growing church you are successful…if not, you’re not. I suggest that this is a weak definition and measurement of success. If you think about it, dollars in the bank and people in the seats only tell you one thing for certain, and that is how much money you have in the bank and how many people are staring back at you on Sunday mornings.

I think our focus should be on church health rather than church growth. Money and attendance can be an indicator of church health but is no guarantee of church health. Here are some questions for you:

1. How will I define success?

2. How will I define church health?

3. How will I measure success that has very little to do with finances and attendance?

4. How will I measure church health that has very little to do with finances and attendance.

5. Are we being faithful to our mission?

6. Am I being faithful to my calling?

Question: When doing a new yearly budget, what % increase do you plan on/hope for?

Dave: A simple formula is to start by looking at how much money came in the previous year. Next, over the past 3 to 6 months has the giving been climbing or falling? Let’s say the giving has increased by 10%, then take the total from the previous year and add 10% to that number to come up with your new budget. If income has fallen 10% then develop a budget that is 10% less than the previous year. The rule is, ‘patterns help us predict.’

Question: Thoughts on transitioning from full time paid pastorate to having to find a means to live with no monetary support from the church?

Dave: It’s one thing to start out being bivocational and another thing to be forced to be bivocational. If you have been a fully-funded, full time pastor then stepping back into the secular workforce might be a bitter pill to swallow. Prepare for a ruff time emotionally.

The biggest transition for pastors needing to find work outside of the church is adjusting their workload at the church to reflect the limited hours they now have to give the church. In other words, you can’t think of yourself as a full time pastor and at the same time have a part time or full time job outside of the church. Here’s another formula:

20hrs outside the church = 20hrs inside the church.

40hrs outside the church = 10hrs inside the church.

You might be thinking, “There’s no way I can do all the things needed to be done in 10 hours.”

You’re probably right. That’s why you will need to prioritize, delegate, or stop doing certain things all together. This will be a challenging transition but you can do it. Pastors do it all the time. I can help.