I recently had an interesting conversation with the leader of a homeless ministry in the south. The city he is in has a large homeless population living in hidden places within the city. Because the weather is fairly mild it is a good place for homeless folks to congregate. The ministry he leads has a stated mission of helping these homeless folks get off the streets and into a stable living and working environment. This is also his desire.

His board however, measures something much different. They love to tell folks about the 40,000 meals they serve each year. The more meals served, the more successful they are in their view. On one level this is understandable. Feeding the hungry is necessary and it is a ministry. Helping the homeless become stable with homes and jobs is very tough, especially with the prevalence of drugs and alcohol within the population, to say nothing of mental illness. It can take years to help an individual move out of one world and into another.

The problem, of course is that focusing on the number of meals does not get to the heart of why the ministry exists. But because it is easy to count, it has become the measure of success for the board. The result is that more and more resources are focused on meals at the expense of the ultimate goal of the ministry which is to help the homeless leave the streets. By measuring the wrong thing - a good ministry in itself - the board sabotages its ultimate objective.

What you measure is what gets the attention in any organization. if you measure the wrong thing the attention is focused in the wrong direction. And it is easy to do. Everyone in leadership should regularly ask the question: "Are we measuring the right thing to ensure that we are moving in the direction of our mission and vision?" This means that we must do the hard work of figuring out what to measure and how to measure in order to determine whether one is heading in the proper direction and seeing success?

This is especially important in churches where our measure of success is often attendance, giving and buildings. But these are truly peripheral to the mission of the church which is more believers and better believers: Evangelism and Discipleship. That is harder to measure but it is possible to measure. Remember, what you measure is what gets the attention!

TJ Addington (Addington Consulting) has a passion to help individuals and organizations maximize their impact and go to the next level of effectiveness. He can be reached at tjaddington@gmail.com.

"Creating cultures of organizational excellence."



  • Apr 27, 2018
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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