Dallas Willard has said that most churches are not intending to produce disciples, but increase their ABC's - attendance, buildings, and cash. Dave Terpstra, pastor of The Next Level Church in Denver and regular contribut-Ur, believes many church leaders focus on these tangible measurements of success because they are simply easy to quantify. In recent months, Terpstra and his elders have been stretched to think differently about discerning ministry success by reading Jim Collins' advice to non-profit organizations. The respected author of Good to Great believes churches and businesses must evaluate success differently.

Jim Collins recently wrote a monograph to accompany his best-selling book "Good to Great" where he examines the application of his book in the social sectors. He was also interviewed on the subject of his monograph for the current issue of Leadership.

In both the monograph and his interview Collins emphasized the importance of being disciplined as an organization in defining goals and assessing results. But the most intriguing aspect of Collins' work is what he suggests true goals and results for not-for-profits should be (and should not be).

Quickly after entering church leadership, most individuals realize that churches find value in the intangibles. Whereas businesses exist to make money for their shareholders, churches and other not-for-profits exist for something else. Collins suggests that one of the biggest mistakes those of us in the social sector make is to follow the business sector in thinking that money is a goal or output of our church.

Quickly after entering church leadership, most individuals realize that churches find value in the intangibles. Whereas businesses exist to make money for their shareholders, churches and other not-for-profits exist for something else. Collins suggests that one of the biggest mistakes those of us in the social sector make is to follow the business sector in thinking that money is a goal or output of our church.

According to Collins, money is only an input in the social sector, not an output. In other words, we need capital and other resources to carry out our work. But increasing capital is not the point of our work?or is it? How are we supposed to define success in the church?Even more to the point, how are we supposed to measure success in the church?

The three most measurable "products" of church communities are bodies, bucks and bricks. It doesn't take long in church leadership to begin to compare your ministry to others. And whether right or wrong, we all evaluate our churches relative to other churches. I believe every church leader asks these sorts of questions: Are more people coming in the door? Are we able to find a place for them to sit and a place to take care of their kids? Are we growing financially so that we can expand our programs to serve them?

No doubt you have probably heard the maxim before that every church is an organism. Every organism that isn't growing is dying. But as Collins suggests, there is more to growth in the not-for-profit world than the tangibles.

Simply growing the number of bodies, bucks and bricks at our church isn't the answer. I hope you already know that. But how do we define and assess the intangibles?

Collins gives an example of the Cleveland Orchestra. They defined their success according to three seemingly unassessable goals: superior performance, distinctive impact, lasting endurance. However, Collins demonstrates how they were able to assess their ability to meet their goals even though they seemed intangible.

Leave a commentSingle Page
  1. 2
  2. Next >
Books  |  Church Health  |  Success
Read These Next
See Our Latest
Leave a comment

Follow Us

Sign up today for our Weekly newsletter: Leadership Journal. Each weekly issue contains support and tips from the editors of Leadership to help you in your ministry.