Last week I posted a little something about evaluating success and the closing of The Grove. In short, it was the brief laying out of why The Grove closed and how we evaluated the success of our ministry. You can find that article here.
Over the past few weeks I have been serving as a consultant to various churches throughout the state of Indiana and one thing has become clear. Vision is dead. And where vision is dead…evaluation is not possible.
Let me be clear: There are some really cool things going on in our churches and lives are being changed forever. But…it seems that there is a lack of vision in our churches. I am not just speaking of United Methodist Churches, and I am certainly not saying all the churches I have visited lack vision. What I am saying is that I believe it has become the norm for churches to lack a clearly articulated vision that drives them forward.
Without a vision that tells us why we do what we do…we have ministries that we do simply for the sake of doing them. To be put simply: We either do ministry because it helps us live into our vision and move forward to an ideal future or, we do a ministry because we always have and we have nothing to evaluate it by.
Vision is what you evaluate ministry with. If a church’s vision is to become the church with the best desserts in the state (not the greatest vision…but I think I would try that church out every now and then) the quality of the food they bring will be evaluated based on that goal. If the people of the church have always brought fruitcake and pre-packaged cookies from the grocery, the vision will force them to evaluate whether or not this will help them become the best. Hopefully, the vision will create a new baking ministry where individuals will be trained to bake amazing homemade cookies and cakes.
I know…it is a ridiculous example but, an example that at least paints a picture. The problem is, we have too many churches that are willing to simply maintain the status quo. This is why many churches are providing fruitcake quality ministry and worship. And…inevitably…the question is asked: Why do people go to that big-box church down the street but not come here. The answer? That big-box church decided a long time ago that the status-quo was not good enough and they ditched those pre-packaged ministries and created something new…and spiritually delicious.
The key to evaluating ministry is to have something to evaluate it by. This is called vision.
Churches…I would like to introduce you to vision. Vision…I would like to introduce you to churches. I know you will get along great. Together you will travel great journeys and experience amazing adventures. And in the end…you will gain many more new friends along the way. I think you two were meant for one another. You once knew that for yourselves…but seem to have forgotten that. Go on! Get to know one another! It will be fun. I promise!