Church leaders like to measure things. We measure attendance, salvations, baptisms, and the offering. And that’s a good thing! Measuring matters and helps you do a better job as a church.
The key question, however, is: what is the most important thing we measure? What metric is the single most important metric in Christ’s Church? If there was only one number that we kept that truly indicated our effectiveness in fulfilling the mission Jesus left us, what number would it be?
In my mind, the most important number in the Church is the one number that best reflects the mission of the Church. If the mission is to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) who are fully trained (Luke 6:40), then the single most important metric to measure is how many fully trained disciples are being made in our church.
I find it interesting that after sixty-two years of church involvement and thirty-three years of pastoring, my church is one of the few churches I know measuring fully trained disciples. In full disclosure, we have not always made that number the most important metric we measure. Like many churches, we have at times fallen into the trap of thinking attendance, baptisms, and budget were the most important numbers. Those numbers are certainly important, but not as important as the number of fully trained disciples being made. In fact, if you make fully trained disciples, you will increase the number of people attending, being baptized, and giving.
Now, let’s define a fully trained disciple of Jesus Christ. A fully trained disciple is a person who demonstrates growth in the character of Christ as described in Galatians 5:22-23 in the fruit of the Spirit. If a person is committed to and making progress in becoming more like Christ in the way that person displays love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control, then that person is becoming fully trained.
A person can also be considered fully trained if he or she is committed to and growing in the conduct of Christ. If a person demonstrates the marks of a disciple described in Acts 2:41-47, then that person is becoming fully trained. These common marks of a disciple include belonging, worshipping, growing, serving, managing, sharing, and reproducing. The goal is not perfection with these marks but progress.
I believe that the definition or “measurement” of a fully trained disciple is not subjective but objective. We can observe Christlike character and conduct, and that makes it possible to measure how many of His disciples are being made in our congregation.
Jesus left behind a team of His disciples. They were not perfect, but they had been fully trained by Jesus. Jesus did not leave partially trained disciples behind to lead His movement. He left His movement in the hands of people who had completed their training with Him. His followers today need to follow the original disciples’ example.
Impact Discipleship Ministries exists to inspire people and churches to be and build disciples of Jesus Christ. If we can serve you in learning to measure what matters, contact us at impactdisciples.com. We are here to help.