I once served in a church that had a strong business model. All of the staff were encouraged to read books like Good to Great or Unleashing the Ideavirus. In that church, we talked a LOT about outcomes. It was a church model based on productivity. Most of the focus was on programs and how they produced the outcomes we were looking for.
Something happened to me while thinking through these ideas.
I don’t believe in outcomes based ministry.
That might be a little strong to some. I realized it in a conversation I had recently when someone was reading some of my thoughts. The asked me what was the purpose of what I was doing. Why do things differently? What were my outcomes?
I just blinked… several times… There it was staring me in the face. I don’t believe in outcomes.
To clarify, let me say that I don’t think you can measure a ministry or the efforts of any minister by numbers, conversions, Bible verses memorized, attendance, percentages, fiery hoops jumped through, prayers prayed, or anything other silly measurable that I can think of.
It hit me somewhere in my past. All of the measurable outcomes I could think of were either not good measures of spiritual growth or out of my hands. If I could turn someone’s heart, make them aware of the Spirit’s prompting, even call the Lord to their attention apart from God, that would be amazing. But I can’t do those things on my own. In fact, those are things only God can do.
So I’m left with two choices. Either I measure things that I can do, but don’t really matter, or I try to recognize what God does and try to participate in it.