Church leaders want to be good stewards of what is entrusted to them, but each generation has struggled to find an appropriate way to measure their effectiveness.
Businesses measure return on investment (ROI), but measuring return on ministry investment (ROM) is much trickier. Here’s a few reasons why:
- The Inputs
Healthy ministry takes more than money and heavily relies on a mix of time, money, talent, and obedience to the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. These inputs are a difficult mix to quantify.
- The Results
Even trickier is attempting to measure spiritual fruit – authentic conversions, maturing believers, discipleship, accountability, right heart attitudes, purity, and biblical obedience.
- God’s Economy
What is the most effective thing in ministry doesn’t always make rational sense. After all, God likes to use the foolish things of this world to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27). While it is good to be strategic and make wise choices in ministry, we must always be sensitive and obedient to leadings from the Holy Spirit. In other words, we must be willing to throw out our plans and programs and follow the Holy Spirit when He guides differently. Sometimes healthy and obedient ministry is reaching thousands of people, and sometimes it is spending 40 years to win one convert. What matters is obedience.
Reality is it’s impossible to measure ministry effectiveness with man-made metrics. There will always be some mystique to the way God works and what He truly defines as effective.
So how do churches measure their effectiveness?
While there will never be a perfect formula, churches have found supplemental metrics by counting attendance, finances, commitments to Christ, baptisms, small group participants, and volunteers. While not direct indicators, these metrics can be good hints as to a ministry’s health.
Some church leaders have borrowed tools from the business world, such as Harvard Business School’s Balanced Scorecard (BSC) for performance management. Nonprofits and businesses have been using the Balanced Scorecard for two decades to:
- Align efforts with the organization’s vision and strategy
- Improve communication internally and externally
- Help prioritize programs and projects
- Evaluate performance against strategic goals
Ministry consultant Eric Soon has tweaked the Balanced Scorecard to better fit churches’ needs, and ACTIVE Faith is offering a free whitepaper – “Excellence in Ministry: Balanced Scorecard” – as a great introduction to using the BSC in ministry.
If your ministry is healthy and built on a strong foundation of prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit, then tools like the Ministry Balanced Scorecard can be a wonderful complement to your ministry and produce greater stewardship as long as you use it within the framework of your unique calling.