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October 6, 2015

How Should We Measure Success?

By Mark DeYmaz

When was the last pastoral conference or ministry convention you attended? If you’re like most pastors, you were surely asked: how big is your church? Yes, for far longer than any one knows or cares to imagine success and significance in the American Church has been defined by three things: numbers, dollars and buildings. More often than not, then, it’s size that gets pastors on a conference stage, the cover of a magazine, or a book deal. It’s what puts the church, itself, on the map!

Similarly in church planting, success is measured by how quickly an emerging congregation can reach or breakthrough numeric barriers in its attempt to somehow ensure sustainability.

Think About It

If explosive growth was the New Testament standard of success, Jesus was a horrible failure! On a good day – what? – He may have had seventy folks involved. Many other days, less than a couple dozen showed up. Sure, He did a few big events; but by and large, His “weekend attendance” was much smaller than we typically imagine. In fact, our own Savior would not have made Outreach Magazine’s annual list of pastors leading the fastest growing and largest churches in America!

As for the budget, Jesus never asked for it money nor discussed His group’s financial need. Any money given to Him or otherwise collected seems to have been used to meet immediate needs (Luke 8:1-3), or given to the poor (John 12:1-8). As for buildings, Jesus never had one to call His own (Matthew 8:20).

Sure, numbers are souls; and Luke, himself, records both attendance and salvations (Luke 9:14; Acts 1:15; Acts 2:41). There’s even a book in the Bible called Numbers!

The fact is, numbers, dollars, and buildings say something, but not everything, when it comes to measuring the success or significance of a local church. Yet there’s a much more important metric to pursue than size; a more significant standard by which to measure a church’s effectiveness: namely, breadth of influence. Indeed, a healthy multi-ethnic and economically diverse church has the potential to impact a community in more ways than a homogeneous church far larger in size. Here’s why.

Influence Matters

We tend to think that large churches have great influence in a city, given their size. And to some extent, this is true. But imagine for a moment that a city is like a pie with ten slices. When (say) 3,000 very similar people leave a homogeneous church on Sunday morning, they generally return to two or three slices of the pie. In other words, they live in the same neighborhoods; their kids attend the same schools; they work in the same industries; they run in the same social circles; they vacation in the same spots, and the list goes on.

But when (say) 300 ethnically and economically diverse people leave a multi-ethnic church on Sunday morning, they generally return to seven or eight slices of the pie. Homeless members go back to the streets, while other members return to homes in the hood, the barrios, and the suburbs. Undocumented immigrants often work in the service industry or in construction, while other members hold white color jobs or political office. From hospitals to corporate boardrooms, to those just out of prison and those looking for work, to teachers, small business owners, and nonprofit CEOs, diverse members carry its message to a greater proportion of the city.

Therefore a multi-ethnic an economically diverse congregation can have much broader influence in the community than its size might otherwise suggest.

So whether you’re serving in a large or small congregational context, know that pursuit of a church that reflects its community matters to God and to your city. And with such broad influence comes the potential for real community transformation beyond rhetoric to results for the glory of God (Matthew 5:16).

This article excerpted in part from the book, re:MIX – Transitioning Your Church to Living Color (release date April 2016, Abingdon), by Mark DeYmaz and Bob Whitesell.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark DeYmaz

Mark DeYmaz (@markdeymaz) is a recognized champion of multiethnic church planting, growth, and development, for the sake of the gospel throughout North America and beyond. He is the founding pastor of Mosaic Church in Little Rock, AR, and a co-founder of the Mosaix Global Network. His books include Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church and the recently released small group study, Multiethnic Conversations.

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