"What do you
see churches doing that is new and effective?"
trends do you see among America's fast growing churches?"
"What are some
of the best ideas of the churches that are really getting with it?"
questions I get asked quite often. People are usually disappointed
with my answer, which normally goes something like this, "The music
is worshipful, the instruments are in tune, there isn't a stack of
old literature sitting around the corner of the classrooms, when
people step to the microphone, it works and is on and they don't
have to tap on it and make hand signals to the sound guy, and the
preschool area doesn't smell like a dirty diaper. In short, they
execute well in the details and everything matters."
"Yeah, I know
all that, but what are they doing that is innovative, cool, hip,
I am in about
fifty growing churches a year, many of them fast growing. With few
exceptions, they are not doing church differently so much as they
are doing church better. They execute in the details and everything
This was also
the finding of Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan written up in the
business best-seller Execution. Here are a few
today, the difference between a company and its competitor is
the ability to execute.
Here is a
fundamental problem: people think of execution as the tactical
side of business, something leaders delegate while they focus on
the supposed, "bigger" issues. This idea is completely wrong.
Execution is not just tactics, it a discipline and a system. It
has to be built into a company's strategy, its goals and its
culture. And the leader of the organization must be deeply
engaged in it.
is not only the biggest issue facing business today, it is
something nobody has explained satisfactorily.
We talk to
many leaders who fall victim to the gap between the promises
they have made and the results their organizations have
companies fail to deliver on their promises, the most common
explanation is that the strategy is wrong. But, the strategy
itself is not often the cause. Strategies often fail because
they are not executed well. Things that are supposed to happen
talks about change. We are not necessarily debunking this stuff.
But, unless you translate big thoughts into concrete steps for
action, they are pointless.
company can deliver on its commitments or adapt well to change
unless all leaders practice the discipline of execution at all
business leaders like to think that the top dog is exempt from
actually running things. It is a pleasant way to view
leadership: you stand on the mountain top, thinking
strategically, and attempt to inspire your people with visions,
while managers do the grunt work. This idea creates a lot of
aspiration for leadership. Who wouldn't want to do all that and
keep your hands clean?
manager has become pejorative.
leader can make things happen through his or her deep personal
involvement in the substance and even the details of execution.
an enormous difference between leading an organization and
presiding over it.
leaders get this? The real problem is execution doesn't sound
sexy. It is the stuff that leaders delegate. Therein is the
So, what are
we suggesting? That pastors need to micro-manage their people?
Hardly. In fact, managing too many things means managing nothing, at
least managing nothing well. The person who says he has ten
priorities has no priorities. The key is to settle on a few
dashboard metrics that let you know at a glance how the engine is
running. If the indicator says the engine is hot, it may be the
thermostat is stuck, or the water is low, or the indicator is
faulty. You will have to delve deeper to discern and fix the
problem, but this one indicator is an important pointer to
Dashboard Metrics for Pastors
says, "Know well the condition of your flock, and pay attention to
your herds." Proverbs 27:23 (HCSB)
church leaders keep their eye on three metrics to as indicators of
the health of their flock:
The Magnet Factor
teaches about pulling people successively through five rings into
the core of your church:
A simple way
of measuring a similar kind of thing is to measure the number of
visitors, the number of people joining and the relationship between
these, I call these, the Magnet Factor, the Velcro Factor, and the
Factor has to do with how magnetic the church is, or, how many
visitors a church has as a percentage of worship attendance.
A good benchmark to shoot
for is 3%. For every 100 attendees on Sunday morning, 3
of them should be first time visitors. This is first time visitors
that you have names of. This only includes in-town visitors. It does
include visitors of ALL ages--that is, it includes the visitors in
the preschool as well as children, youth and adults.
you get someone to actually keep up with this on an on-going basis.
Have them give you a monthly report on what your magnet factor is.
This someone may be a secretary, the Minister of Education, or any
geek who likes to keep up with such things. A single month
graph might look like this:
If you track it over time,
you can create a graph that looks like this:
100% of the
growth of your church will come from visitors. You can't grow a
church without visitors. If you have no visitors today, you have no
There are all
kinds of strategies to address the Magnet Factor if it is below 3%.
The most important issue is to ask the question, "Why is it that our
people do not naturally invite their friends?" Other strategies
include advertising and campaigns like a Friend Day.
In most cases,
the reason the church is not growing does not have to do with the
Magnet Factor, it has to do with the Velcro Factor. The Velcro
Factor has to do with how sticky the church is. It has to do with
whether or not people stick around.
think the problem is the Magnet Factor--we can't get people to come
to church. That is not usually the problem. The problem is not
getting people to come to church, the problem is getting them to
come back to church.
A good benchmark for the
Velcro factor is 33%. The bottom line is that a good
target is to have one percent of your Sunday School attendance
joining every week. If you average 500 in Sunday School, shoot for
having 5 people joining every week. This should result in doubling
the entire church every five years.
A graph of the
Velcro Factor over time might look like this:
Where a single month might
look like this:
The Growth Rate
The bottom line of the above
two numbers in the growth rate.
15% a year will cause
your church to double every five years. This is a good
goal for a normal church under normal circumstances. Downtown
situations in a larger city tend to be more difficult, so this number
may be too optimistic. In some fast-growing suburban areas, it
may not be optimistic enough. I recommend you have someone
produce a report each month that shows you how you are doing. The
graph might look like this:
It is also helpful to see this same information
displayed as percentage growth each year. That graph might look like
You will also want to look at where the growth is
coming from--is it coming from baptizing new converts, or from
transfer growth of Christians.
A good rule of thumb is
this: the average church baptizes 10% of their Sunday School
attendance each year. Most people want to be above
average. In order to "know well the condition of your flock" it is
helpful to have a graph like this:
These benchmarks are only the beginning of a
process of executing in the details everything that is necessary to
grow a church. They let the leader know where we are doing well and
where we are not doing well. From there, the leadership can dive in
to discern causes and possible solutions.
The tricky business about all this is that you
can do it all and still not be effective. That is how it is in God's
work. There is one more crucial component. Jesus said, "without me
you can do nothing." He didn't say you would be slightly more
effective if you remain in the Spirit. He said, "Without me you can
do nothing." Nothing. No spiritually significant results can come
from our effort except that we abide in Him. None. That is an
important topic, perhaps the most important topic, but it is a topic
for another day.