Before going into ministry, I spent several years working in sales. Sales is a very results-oriented field; you usually get paid based not on the amount of work you do, but on the results you get. It is also pretty easy to track those results and determine whether you were successful; either you made sales, or you didn’t.
Of course, ministry is a bit different. I still find myself wanting to measure whether I’ve been “successful,” and work with several business-minded Porch volunteers and staff who are interested in figuring out how to track results. But the obvious things you can track, such as the number of people attending each week, don’t actually matter; attending church doesn’t make you a fully-devoted follower of Jesus any more than attending a baseball game makes you an all-star pitcher.
So how do you measure the success of a ministry? What even constitutes “success”?
The stated goal of The Porch has always been to help people take that next step of spiritual growth, or become more like Christ. That next step is different for each person, depending on where they are now.
For example, you could group the people in our ministry, or in our local mission field of Dallas young adults, into three categories:
Those on the outside or on the fringe of the ministry (who have either never been to The Porch, or have come but are not yet connected in any way).
Those on the inside (who are believers, are coming consistently, and are connected).
Those making it happen (our leaders and volunteers).
Our focus is to help each of these three groups grow spiritually. For example, a big win is to take someone from the outside (group 1), bring them into the ministry (group 2), and have them join us in ministering to others (group 3). That means we need to be doing at least three things:
For group 1, we have to reach out to them and share the good news, and encourage them to get plugged into a church that will help them grow—whether that be Watermark, or some other local Bible-based church they can connect with.
For group 2, it means teaching them the Bible and providing resources through community groups, equipping classes, recovery ministries, etc.
For group 3, it involves more hands-on leadership and discipleship training, as well as praying with them for the ministry. They are the ones who ultimately serve and grow groups 1 and 2.
Since we are talking about spiritual growth and life change, I think it is important to remember that we cannot control that. I cannot save anyone. I can’t even save myself, and I know this because I’ve tried. God is the One who changes lives; our job is to be faithful in loving Him and loving others. So it is less about counting “sales” and more about measuring whether we are consistently doing 1, 2, and 3 above with a grateful heart.
Measuring those activities can tell us how well we are doing our jobs. In terms of the overall impact the ministry is having, the best "measurement" of growth is, in my opinion, stories. It is not dissimilar to a girl telling and retelling her engagement story. People who love God and love others talk about it, or at least others talk about them.
I am blessed to hear crazy stories of life change pretty much every week. It is just what God has chosen to do, and I am thankful for it. We have started taking some of those stories and putting them online, to encourage others that change is possible and readily available through Christ. If you might be interested in sharing your story, please contact us here.
And please join us in praying that God would continue to move and save every young adult in Dallas.
How do you measure success?