The measure for my garden is the amount of produce I harvested. My container garden did a good job of producing cucumbers and okra from the small amount planted. The tomatoes left something to be desired this year. I had a few larger tomatoes, but nothing like in previous years. The cherry tomato production was far down from past years. What do I need to learn from this?
I wish I remembered previous plants that did well so that I could plant them again. I also need to note the plants from this year that failed to create a bountiful harvest. I confess that I have not kept a record of plants over time. Now is a good time to begin.
The same system can apply to our ministry settings. What produced the greatest return on the investment of our resources? It is not about measuring the inputs, but the output. Unfortunately, most of the statistical questions we answer focus on input and not output. Money raised is an input. Attendance at Sunday School and worship is actually an input. The number of participants in special studies is an input. The size of the choir is an input.
I know, some of you are ready to argue. If you did a concentrated process to raise funds, the amount raised would be an output. If you spent a season focused on worship attendance, then it can become an output for that moment in time. The same is true for choir, studies, Sunday School, youth, etc. Most of the time, this is not the case.
The deeper question is what change do you desire for participants? Are your worshippers engaged in the church’s outreach? Can your youth articulate faith in Jesus Christ beyond what they learned in confirmation class? Does your congregation know their spiritual gifts and practice the classic spiritual disciplines of the church? I hope this gets you started. And do not forget to keep a record.