Measurement has been a troublesome thing for the church for two thousand years." That's how Jim Mellado of the Willow Creek Association responded when I asked about measuring congregational success. "It's incredibly hard to measure transformation in a heart," he continued, "and that's what we're all after."

No matter how you state the ultimate goal of your ministry, it is difficult to measure the things that truly matter.

When I began writing this, oil was still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from a drilling accident at the Macondo site. It was being described as the worst environmental disaster in history because of the widespread effect on the Gulf and its shoreline. Now the oil has stopped flowing and the most intense cleanup work is complete, but the incident is far from over.

Several storylines remain, including investigations to determine causes and assign financial liability, and debates over what restrictions to impose on future offshore drilling.

Measurement is an important subplot ...

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