It's one of the most dreaded words in church.
Ray Houser from Churchleaders.com commented on a trend that I have personally witnessed all over the country: church plants without a building are growing and old churches with a building are dying. This directly contradicts a popular belief that a permanent building will bring stability to a church. While that can be true, it takes way more than a building to grow a church!
“No business could exist on outworn methods—and yet the church tries to. Any business that has lost as many customers as the church has would have tried new ways long ago—but the church tends to resent all that is new.” -William Barclay, 1953
So how can we turn the tide on this epidemic? Let me recommend purposeful flexibility.
A church must first commit to caring about monitoring and evaluation. We've all heard the saying that you can't improve what you don't measure so why is it that we measure so few things in the local church? It is OK to trust God and the Holy Spirit to work in our ministry and in people's lives but it is not OK to do that in a vacuum where you have no idea what is working, what's not, who's coming, who's leaving and why. Churches absolutely have a choice to adapt, and we must exercise that choice. However, we must be able to evaluate what is appropriate to change rather than simply trusting our "gut."
Churches who are committed to using the information they glean through a set of solid systems and processes will flourish. The discipline of meticulously studying data, crunching numbers, and measuring outcomes will actually help you stay consistently connected to people and ultimately improve your church’s flexibility. That’s how it works. And when a church is flexible, it will ultimately be able to reach more people and make a greater impact for the Kingdom.
When have you seen better metrics lead to change for the better?