Thursday, April 23, 2015

At the end of the year, what has changed?

Most churches have a lot of activities going on. Larger churches usually have something happening at the church seven days a week, and sometimes multiple things. Even in smaller churches there are various activities occurring throughout the year.

A good exercise might be to take the church calendar at the end of the year, review all the activities that have occurred, and then determine how much of an impact those activities had. You may be surprised by what you find.

Many of the things churches do are done out of tradition. Although nobody remembers why the church began a particular activity, it continues today because no one can remember a time it wasn't done. Unfortunately, no one takes the time to evaluate the effectiveness of the activity by looking at how that activity has impacted the church or community.

If the activity does not provide the church with a good return on investment, this does not automatically mean that the activity should be eliminated. Maybe a different approach would produce better results. Maybe it won't, but unless you are willing to experiment you'll never know. And, if you don't take the time to evaluate the results of the activity you will never know that it may not be the most productive use of your time and resources.

A key word for me in recent months has been intentionality. Too often, churches are content to drift along hoping something they do will produce good results. Drifting seldom produces the results you want. Moving forward with intentionality is usually much more effective. Knowing where you want to go and having a plan for how to get there is much better than drifting and hoping you end up in a good place.

Churches can stay busy and yet accomplish very little. Unless the activity is leading somewhere, it is not likely to have a lot of impact on the church or community.

Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank fame used to fire the bottom 25 percent of her sales force each year. She recognized that these were not earning their keep and was a drain on her organization. What if the church took the same approach to its programming and activities? What if we evaluated everything we did at the end of the year and eliminated the bottom 25 percent that produced the least results?

This may be a radical idea, and it won't be easy for people to give up some of their sacred cows. Some of the things that churches do can be difficult to measure, but I think we must at least try. At a time when many churches are struggling with human and financial resources, we cannot continue to keep programs and activities that are no longer effective.

In many churches, the week between Christmas and New Years is often a slow time. This could be a great time to sit down and begin to evaluate everything your church did that year and see what adjustments need to be made. Become more intentional about doing the things that give you the greatest results, and at the end of the following year you will probably find a lot has changed in your church.

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