In I Corinthians 12 Paul uses makes an analogy about the body of Christ (the church) and a human body. In verse 12 Paul writes “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” He continues this reference as he talks about the eye saying to the hand and the head saying to the foot “I don’t need you”. In verse 27 he concludes by saying “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” I believe this analogy between the human body and the church is a great starting point to begin a conversation about church health and the metrics that can be used to measure church health.
The same but different
Although every person is unique and everyone’s body has different characteristics, basically, as human beings we are more alike than not. Sure, we may be different genders, shapes & sizes and have various ethnic backgrounds but from a medical perspective we all share the same “systems”. The skeletal system, the digestive system, the nervous system are 3 of the 11 different systems that make up the human body. The big step that medical professionals have made in the area of physical health is to identify the METRICS of a healthy system. We all know that 98.6 is the body’s healthy temperature and when we get sick our body raises its temperature in order to fight the sickness. 120/80 is the metric for blood pressure. There is metrics for white & red blood cell counts and good and bad cholesterol and this list goes on. The same concept can be applied to churches. Although there are churches of all types and sizes there are some basic systems we have observed that are present in all churches.
In my role as a Consultant with Active Network | Faith (Formerly Fellowship Technologies) I have worked with hundreds of churches through a process we refer to as “Discovery”. In these Discovery Meetings church staff and ministry leaders would tell me about the systems and processes they use to do ministry. Through this experience I have been able identify four basic systems that are common to most all churches regardless of size or type.
The Spiritual & Biblical System
Spiritual & Biblical System of the church are any activities or efforts that churches put in place to help people grow spiritually. Worship services, Bible studies, discipleship programs are all examples of things churches put in place in order to help people begin and advance on a spiritual journey.
The Community & Relational System
The Community& Relational Systems are things churches do to help people build community and develop relationships with each other. Small groups, sporting events, socials activities would be included in this system.
The Outreach & Missional System
Each church has been uniquely called, equipped and positioned by God for Kingdom work. Whether it is serving the local community or working overseas, churches have an outward focus to accomplish the work of God. These efforts are a part of their Outreach & Missional System.
The Operational & Financial System
Churches have expenses that have to be paid, events that have to be planned, volunteers that have to be coordinated and the list goes on. In order to function as an organization and get things done it takes resources. This is where contributions and in some cases pledges come into play.
The Missing Metrics
The next step we need to take as church leaders is to identify the metrics that will reveal a healthy system. Since contributions are so easy to record and report on let’s look at The Financial & Operational System first. We know we can’t use the dollar amount of contributions as a health metric because there are so many variables that impact that values. How about PERCENTAGE OF CONSISTENT GIVERS? This metric is a measure of consistent givers as a ratio of all givers in the same time period. To calculate PERCENTAGE OF CONSISTENT GIVERS you will need to know the total number of givers in a time period and divide that number by the total number of CONSISTENT Givers. I am defining consistent givers as a giving unit that gives at least .66 times per month. This means they give at least 2 out of 3 months. If you are doing the calculation in June then a consistent giver would have made at least 4 contributions from January to June. If you are doing the calculation in October then the consistent giver would have giving at least 8 times from January to October.