Friday, January 23, 2009

What's Next?

I recently started leading a small group that we've identified as a "What's Next" group. The idea behind starting the group is to answer some of the questions typically raised by people that are just starting to follow Jesus.

While the small group will meet for just seven consecutive weeks, the actually name of what is happening is called "discipleship" and it involves a process that will last well beyond the seven weeks.

Discipleship is the process of becoming a disciple. While there were many disciples of Jesus, people often think of the 12 and were also called "Apostles". However, in the Book of Matthew, just before Jesus ascended into heaven He gave us what is referred to as the "Great Commission". Jesus said,
"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)


There are two important parts in this discipleship process. One is the "teacher" and the other is the "follower". To be a fully devoted follower of Christ, we begin a process of following the teachings of Christ and reading His word so that we begin to know Him.

While many will never take a "What's Next" class or try to formalize the process there are some great tools for those that are fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ and are hungry to grow. One tool that I recently revisited and was pleasantly surprised at how much was available is at www.christiancourses.com

ChristianCourses is a subsidiary of RBC which has a great legacy of offering teaching resources on the radio and in print. The site offers offer free courses in a number of subjects including the Old Testament, New Testament and church history. Most, if not all, of the courses include a video lecture and multiple references and sources for further study.

How are you becoming a disciple? What road are you following?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Measuring Success

When churches and nonprofits hear the word “accountability” they often think solely of something that happens in the finance and accounting realm. However, if you use a broader term, such as “metrics” or “results” their eyes and their perspective will widen.

While I find that there is a general and pretty wide-spread aversion to metrics and accountability in the church, like other time-tested and proven business tools, the wise ministry leaders will embraced it. I'm not sure exactly why so many ministries are adverse to using metrics and would hate to think that they just don't want to be accountable to anyone for anything.

When I was in the business world, I often was responsible for achieving results in a number of different areas, not only financial but also for a number of non-financial processes with much more fuzzy objectives like “customer and employee satisfaction”.


In the business-world, It is not untypical for managers to be held accountable for the total amount of hours worked by all employees or the amount of overtime hours paid in a particular quarter. In larger businesses, it is routine to compare metrics and results between offices and hold the local manager accountable to achieve similar results with the same funding, same number of employees or the same amount of resources. In addition, the reason for creating non-financial metrics and measuring their results is because business leaders knew that what was measured was recognized as something that “mattered”.


Our leaders of our Churches and ministries need to embrace this concept of accountability and begin to track metrics to help determine which of their services, activities and ministries are working well and which are not.


The key in determining metrics includes identifying the “hard” and the “soft” numbers that can be identified and track them in the same manner over time. Some hard numbers include contributions, giving, attendance (kids, youth, adult), baptisms, hands-raised, number of employees, number of members, number of volunteers, etc. Soft numbers may include comments received or survey results, number of prayer requests or communications, and processes like hospital visits, telephone calls, referrals and guests. For churches, there is a new and free tool that will help them track some of these hard numbers at www.churchmetrics.com/


Without accountability and metrics it’s impossible for ministries to determine how they are doing, when to hire employees, whether employees are producing results and whether to start new ministries. If ministries really want to be good stewards of resources, there is no other way than holding themselves accountable.

WHY A NON-DENOMINATIONAL EVANGELICAL CHURCH?

Our small Christian non-profit ministry recently requested and received approval from the IRS to be re-classified as a ‘church’.      ...