You Are What You Measure…In Missions


Do you like statistics and measuring metrics? Pastors everywhere love numbers, right? Are super inflated ones the best kind? Tongue-in-cheek, everyone knows that pastors get a bad rap for wanting to measure, measure and count, count and grow, grow. While acknowledging this can become unhealthy at times, analytics do play an important part in any industry, whether sacred or secular. 

It is quite fascinating to read about analytic metrics that matter in business.

Sales revenue, profit margin, growth in market share, new customer acquisition, and qualified leads are among the top measurements that companies and businesses must analyze in order to be certain they are who they claim to be and are measuring as they desire. Likewise, church pastors and leaders often consider statistics of new members, new baptisms, number of rededicated lives, amount given to offering, and percentage of the community that has been evangelized. When it comes to missions, though, there are typically only two metrics we hear about: dollars given and number of missionaries supported. What is fascinating is that the calling in the Great Commission does not fit the metrics!

The Great Commission is the most often quoted passage when it comes to engaging in anything related to global missions, whether it be local or national or international. If a business is equated with its measurement (profit, gain, growth, loss, decline, or margin), then why does the church seem satisfied to measure dollars and people supported?

Nobody believes this is what the church IS! The church is NOT reduced to what it measures!

Why is growth important in other areas of the church but less critical when it comes to missions? We would not consider measuring the temperature of our refrigerator with an air pressure gauge, and we would not consider measuring our shoe size with a rain gauge. For some reason, we consider measuring our effectiveness at fulfilling the Great Commission with two simple metrics that don’t match the standard Jesus gave us!

If you agree that our missions metrics need to help us see if we are what we measure, then what would be some appropriate alternatives? What would be new metrics that churches might use to become what they measure?

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Number of congregants engaged in living on mission. The Great Commission is a calling to all. It does not say “the missions committee should go make disciples”, nor does it command the church staff to dig deep and encourage all to give more money to send others. Every Jesus follower is commanded to engage in the Great Commission. In addition to being the ones who GO, there are other ways to be living out the Great Commission. Here is a new metric: the percentage of our congregation that is living out their unique missions calling, with the ones who go making up just a percentage of all engaged. 
  2. Number in our body of Christ who learned something new about a new culture or people group. Just like marketing would target a new audience and a new market share percentage, churches would do well to create a metric that measures the number who are increasing their missions knowledge.  That metric would truly measure if we are a people who is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  3. Percentage of missionaries that are highly satisfied with their supporters. Customer satisfaction rating scales are quite the metric in the retail world, but the church has missionary “clients” who don’t feel like they get much more than a paycheck! Measure that missionary care metric, and then raise the “customer” satisfaction level.

Where is your measuring stick?

Let’s go get the right tool, seek the correct measurements, and make some real analytical progress toward becoming what we measure, all for God’s glory and for His kingdom’s sake. 

Kirsten McClain serves as a Church Missions Consultant with OMF. She has been donating her services to churches and mission agencies for the last 20 years. She has a heart to see the church realize her potential in missions and is driven to be a mobilizer to this end. Kirsten lives in Georgia with her husband and three children, and she is ready to direct pastors to the various free resources that OMF uses to come alongside churches and individuals so that they can do missions well.


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