One of the four disciplines in The Four Disciplines of Execution (4DX) is creating a compelling scorecard. In order to do this we need to have good accurate measurements. The preceding discipline in 4DX is finding Lead Measures instead of Lag Measures. Lead Measures measure the things that we actually have leverage over, rather than the results that we hope for, but cannot simply do or create. When we find our lead measures, the compelling scorecard is where we measure them.
When it comes to ministries though, we face the dilemma of the work of God vs the work of humanity complication. I remember a church meeting where the visiting teacher asked us all how to make disciples. One of our church members stated with complete seriousness, "We can't do that. Only God can do that." The salvations that begin lives of discipleship and both initiated, fueled, and completed by God (the Author and perfector of our faith). Yet we still have a role in our own faith, as well as the faith of others. If we simply avoid this mystery instead of engage it, we may end up abdicating our roles in making disciples and giving all the credit, as well as all the blame to God.
We need to dive into that mystery in order to find our place in it. Whether great or small, what we do really does matter, particularly in the lives of those we, and God, are trying to make disciples of Jesus Christ. In many cases, particularly where volunteer work is involved, we are hesitant to try to "measure" any of the work. We don't want to offend those donating their time, money, and effort. When there is paid staff, on the other hand, we often are much quicker to lay the blame, because we are paying for their services. In either case though, there needs to be clear measurements for ministry and in both cases there usually is not. We are looking for end results... we don't care how we get there.
That's no way to run a ministry or supervise leaders. There needs to be clear direction on what they are expected to do. The results are in God's hands. (1 Corinthians 3:5-6) We need to find those lead measurements and create a compelling scorecard so that we all know when we are doing the work right and when we are not. And we need to make those measurements without shame.
Our measurements for Fresh Expressions should be at least partially based around the 4 functions of a Fresh Expression:
UP - seeking God's presence
IN - growing in Fellowship
OUT - reaching out in service and love
OF - connected to a local congregation for support and accountability
Let's look at what some lead measurements might be for each of these items.
UP - Testimonies shared, glory sightings (where we have seen God at work in our lives), prayers offered, scriptures shared, questions for/about God
IN - New friends made, repeat visits and regular attendance from new visitors, prayer requests shared among the community, needs lifted up (especially on behalf of others, not just our own requests), any kind of way we are learning to love one another well
OUT - Opportunities taken to share the Gospel with others, opportunities to love those outside the community by taking care of physical needs, listening to them in their emotional needs, any form of service in Christian love, particularly when we can share our "WHY" of Jesus with them.
OF - Percent of connection with the local church (Note: this number is not ideally 100%. If 100% of your Fresh Expression attend your local church you are not reaching people outside your church. However, if there is only 1 person from you local church and you have 50 in your Fresh Expression, they will likely feel disconnected from the local body. I suspect somewhere between 10-20% of the total population is more helpful in maintaining a strong enough connection to the local church for support and accountability) More lead measures for OF that help you attain a good connection with the local church may be: how often the leaders participate in the ministries of the local church, how often they visit and bring a friend from the Fresh Expression, how often the local church pastor or other leader is invited to attend the Fresh Expression. In general, I suspect we do better measuring invites rather than attendance.
Since the forms of Fresh Expression are as varied as the people they reach, measuring these criteria primarily by number are of limited use to the local FX leaders. We are not in competition with the other Fresh Expressions around us. We are seeking to be faithful in our unique context. The numbers are helpful for those in higher leadership advocating on behalf of these ministries, but they may not be the most helpful in guiding the ministry to grow in its work. Those numbers invite ego investment and the pride and shame that go along with them.
Another way to measure those ministries, outside of numbers, is with a red light, yellow light, green light system.
Red light in a ministry indicates that this particular aspect is not happening at all, or is being presented in a way by leaders that is not yet connecting with the community.
Yellow light in a ministry indicates that this particular aspect is happening, but not regularly, or only with great effort.
Green light in a ministry indicates that this particular aspect is happening regularly, and perhaps even without prompting from the leadership.
If we go through our list of UP, IN, OUT, and OF, applying the red-yellow-green lights to them, I can share that we have a green light for UP and OUT, but our IN is more of a yellow, moving to red light, and our OF is a solid yellow. That tells me that we need to put more strategic effort and investment into our IN ministries and perhaps find a motivational boost to lift our OF ministries from the place we are stuck in. That is compelling measurement that instructs and exhorts us without shame.
What color lights are your UP, IN, OUT, and OF?
Trying to hear the music in the din of many voices.
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