September 4, 2020

Relief from the Pressure to Produce – Part 3

“Stop counting what matters little, and start counting what matters most – and help your church to know the difference.” –  Bob Hyatt in Ministry Mantras.

I am sure you have heard this great conversation starter before; usually at a conference where other pastors were gathered… “So, how big is your church?”

Let’s change the metrics!

As you begin to see a change in your understanding of what success looks like, the final question becomes “How do we change the metrics of success in our churches?” The current defaults are deeply engrained and have flowed over into the church from the world of business.

In his chapter titled “Count what Matters,” Bob Hyatt describes the challenge that most of us in church ministry face – staying focused on the main thing. After recognizing that he and his leaders were measuring the usual, but wrong, things he arrived at this conclusion. “I’ve made a concerted effort in my heart and mind to care about the biggest question of all: “How are we doing at making disciples?” After all, when Jesus left us, he didn’t say, ‘Draw a big crowd.” He said, ‘Make disciples.’”

The outcomes are in God’s hands as the owner and vinedresser. (John 15:1) What we need to do is stay faithful to the main thing and change the metrics of what success in ministry looks like.

Building a counter “productive” culture in our churches is no easy task, given the forces aligned against the effort. The internal pressures join with the external expectations to create a formidable foe. But if we could dream for a moment, what would that kind of culture look like in a church? How would we measure what matters?

We might make “statements of faith” like “In the field God has given us, what is the influence we hope for?”, rather than hard goals and objectives that stand over us like angry sentries.

We might start asking questions like, “What is the evidence that people are connected to and growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ?” More Bible studies? More giving? More attendance? Instead of counting numbers and noses and the size of our programs, we might start celebrating engagement, reach, service and lifestyles conforming to the image of Jesus. In my 51st year of following Jesus, I am more deeply challenged than ever that “…teaching them (disciples) to obey (do, practice) all that I (Jesus) have commanded you…” (Mt. 28:20) is the lost key to real growth and the one thing we fail to do and to measure. Not in making pharisaical checklists, but simply by mentoring, paying attention and affirming.

We might spend more time challenging each other as leaders to live lives of non-anxious, un-hurried faith and centeredness in Jesus, rather than stressing about and pushing to produce.

How do we begin leading our leaders and our people in changing the default metrics that define success in ministry?

Scour the Scriptures – Teach, discuss and explore what God’s metrics truly are.

Intentionally embrace them –Commit to them and hold each other accountable.

Pray for courage to stay with them – It will take a lot of courage to face the pushback. Pray and give each other grace when the pressure builds to revert back to the usual ways.

Talk about them often – this can’t be a “one and done” approach. God encourages His people to remind each other through sacrament and “standing stones.” Following that model, plan to remember and renew your commitment to measuring what matters.

What would a counter “productive” culture look like in your church? I would like to know.

My prayer is that you will be relieved of the pressure to produce and find, instead, the joy of being that tree planted by the stream which bears its fruit in its season. (Ps.1:3)

PIR Ministries has been serving the church and her pastors for over 25 years. We are your partner in pastoral renewal and restoration.Contact us at [email protected]. for more information on how we can help you cultivate new hope for a healthy ministry life.