THEOCONMICS- Make your counting count (managerial, measurements, youth ministry)
by Zac Workun (Zac is our 1st guest youth pastor blogger)
Theology in a simple description is the manner is which we speak about God, and as we have learned or are beginning to learn (thank you Buber and so many others) “how we talk is also most likely how we live…” So if theology as a lived thing comes from how we talk about God, then what would be a fitting quantitative counterpart to the qualitative.
a few jutting and conflicting clichés…
“We just doubled the size of our leadership team and we are seeing an increase of 30% in our student ministry”
“We aren’t about numbers, we are about relationships”
“We are just seeing the Spirit do big things”
Most of us read these and scoff at the first and rationalize or pontificate about the 2nd and 3rd, but in reality all comments stem from a strong theological basis (some conscious or meticulous or inherited or articulate others by happenstance). The real question for you is… are you aware? Yes you may claim to never take attendance or do a head count because you are about relationships but how well does that position you to connect those that are “in” or “not in” relationships. Maybe you think it is poor taste to post the “brag board” numbers on your wall or in your newsletter/email and perhaps you are right…
… but I it is unfair to vilify those that do quantitative measurement in their ministry. In fact, I would like to go on record by stating that, “if you don’t measure something in your ministry you are probably doing a poor job.” I think we have to measure; it is too much a gut reaction not to assign numbers to an organization. The essence of our struggle is trying to make a big problem understandable and approachable and how we segment our understanding of that problem will give us a better shot at creating a new reality.
Our fashioned, burgeoning, developing theoconomies are the measurements that inform and move us towards our ends (Values, Vision, Abstracted Realities). We make decisions and petition prayerful based on the needs we observe and foresee. Perhaps the reason you moved from a large gathering format to cell groups for your mid-week prayer time was because it was either poorly attended or spiritually stagnant either way your deeply rooted conviction about prayer was guided by a measurement you either had in your head (line of sight/observation) or recorded numbers in a notebook. No matter how you slice it you are keeping track of how thing are going somewhere; either in your head (a comparison between what you think things should be and the way things are), in a ledger (or excel spreadsheet or some other fancy database), or stacked against a list a values or a vision/mission statement that guides your decisions. A keen insight for all of us is to just stop and take a look, consider the present, measure the past, and make preparations for the future.
A proposed opening conversation for you to consider with your leaders, staff, and volunteers (and maybe a few comments for below)-
-What if anything are we consistently measuring, tabulating, collecting?
– How has that consciously shaped our ministry?
-Has it subconsciously shaped our ministry?
-Do the things we measure currently best reflect our values, vision, and ultimate mission?
-What do the things we measure say about the God we serve?
“12 named disciples and the multitudes that sought him”
I am fully conscious and sensitive to the reality that we can not and should not always measure what God is doing in lives. There are things of a significant nature that are occurring in lives that are not always calculable. However, sometimes we can get so burdened by the weight of one life that we can lose sight of the good God is doing and forget to approximate.
Come back for more as we discuss in further installments what this might mean for us as we begin to measure diligently…