Ministries often do what they do, year in and year out without a clear sense of whether or not their ministry or efforts are paying off. Consider these examples.
I spent time this past week with a pastor of a church of 1,500. For years they did what many churches do in the summer - DVBS, putting huge resources, time and energy into this ministry. The Bible School would take some 300 volunteers. Given that investment he asked for a rigorous review of the results of the ministry. What he found out was that in three years, this massive ministry layout resulted in only eight new families coming to the church, three of whom were planning on coming anyway.
This year there is no DVBS.
My own church, for many years had a "sports ministry" - mainly baseball and dedicated half of its five acre lot to a baseball field. In the 25 years of the "sports ministry" there were no known new believers. Mainly it was church folks playing with each other. Nice but not strategic.
We often make the assumption that because something is "ministry" that it is useful, good and important. Assumptions without factual information on results is a great mistake. It confuses activity with results. All ministries have loads of activity, many see few results. You don't know if you don't evaluate and ask what the real, tangible results are of your activity. A simple but neglected proposition in many ministries.
Wise ministries actually measure ministry results. I suspect that there are massive layouts of time, energy and money to ministries in local churches and missions which yield very little but we don't realize it because we don't measure. In fact, we don't even think to question our practices since we are just used to doing them.
This implies that we are willing to say no to ministries that cannot demonstrate true missional effectiveness and challenge ministry teams to have a strategy for getting those results. It is not necessarily popular but it is missional.
The same pastor who shut down DVBS this year had folks come to him to start a new sports ministry - they are a church very interested in reaching out to their community. His response was that he would consider it when he saw the detailed plan on how the ministry would leverage its sports program to actually bring individuals to Christ and help them grow. That is, after all the mission of the church, and therefore each ministry within the church.
Wise leaders question everything and count everything. They don't rely on past history or blindly assume that ministries are producing real ministry results. What do you really measure? What areas of ministry are you not measuring? It is worth thinking about!