That’s Not My Ruler … Measuring Success

Sitting in a D.Min. seminar more than 15 years ago I recall thinking through how success is measured for those in ministry – particularly for pastors. All of my fellow students either pastored very large churches or served the staff of very large churches. Our little church had less than 100 active members and a weekly attendance of maybe 50. Listening to the markers on their rulers meant counting “butts and bucks.” I would never survive the resultant pressure for success in that setting.

About the same time I was asked to write an article for leadership magazine for our denomination. I remember using the metaphor of the ruler to suggest we really needed to think how we measure success in ministry.

More than fifteen years later my friend David and his cohort at George Fox came up with a list looking for the marks on the ruler that may indicate success in the future – not “butts and bucks.” David gets one of the grand compliments for a blog post. He is picked up by Todd Rhoades at Monday Morning Insight as seen at Backyard Missionary. Todd is now with Leadership Network. Now if those folks forging the rulers for success in the future will take heart of David and his peers work we may get somewhere.

Here are some of the lines on the would-be ruler,

1. The number of cigarette butts in the church parking lot.
2. The number of adoptions people in the church have made from local foster care.
3. The number of pictures on the church wall of unwed mothers holding their newborn babies in their arms for the first time.
4. The number of classes for special needs children and adults
5. The number of former convicted felons serving in the church
6. The number of phone calls from community leaders asking the churchâ??s advice
7. The number of meetings that take place somewhere besides the church building
8. The number of organizations using the church building
9. The number of days the pastor doesnâ??t spend time in the church office but in the community
10. The number of emergency finance meetings that take place to reroute money to community ministry
11. The amount of dollars saved by the local schools because the church has painted the walls
12. The number of people serving in the community during the churchâ??s normal worship hours
13. The number of non-religious-school professors worshiping with you
14. The number of people wearing good, free clothes that used to belong to members of the church
15. The number of times the church band has played family-friendly music in the local coffee shop
16. The number of people who have gotten better because of free health clinic you operate
17. The number of people in new jobs thanks to the free job training center you opened
18. The number of micro-loans given by members in your church
19. The number of churches your church planted in a 10 mile radius of your own church

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

2 comments on “That’s Not My Ruler … Measuring Success

  1. ted Baird says:

    Todd, I’d add another to the list:

    the number of irreligious, marginalized, formerly churched, gay, morally questionable people sitting comfortably along side those with big Bibles who they are involved in a deep relationship of spiritual journey and discovery, without judgement, condemnation, or fear.

  2. Todd Littleton says:

    Hey Ted,

    Great to get you weighing in here! I think you are spot on. Wow, does that make us “liberal?”

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