In life and ministry, measurements matter. We measure things that are important to us, and when we don’t things can get out of hand quickly. Think about it, most of us measure our bank accounts and weight pretty regularly. Stop doing that for a little while and see how things turn out! Odds are you will quickly end up overweight and over drafted.
Not measuring these two things can be dangerous and disastrous! The same is true in youth ministry. There’s a recipe for success, but it requires measuring out the right ingredients. Too much or too little of one ingredient can ruin a whole batch!
My wife loves to bake, and she makes some incredible brownies. She was making a batch recently like she had many times before, but realized we were short on vegetable oil. We needed 3/4 of a cup, but we only had about half a cup. In a pinch, she decided to use 1/4 cup of olive oil to make it work. That 1/4 cup of the wrong ingredient ruined the whole batch!
It works the same way in ministry. It’s the little things, if left unchecked, that can ruin the whole thing. Without measurement, there is no movement in ministry.
We measure what matters. Here’s the deal though, we can’t say something matters to us if we have no measurement for it.
The good news is you can begin to measure what matters today. It’s a great time to identify the 3-5 things that are most important to your ministry and measure them. Perhaps more than anything else, this exercise will provide clarity about where your ministry is and where you need to put your energy going forward.
I am currently in the middle of this same thing. In our youth ministry, we measure five things that we feel are important to the ministry and it’s growth. Here are the things we measure and the why behind them.
1) Youth Ministry Attendance
This is one of the main things we measure. Healthy things grow, and this includes youth ministries. Growing in attendance is a health indicator. It’s not the only one, but it is a good one! By the same token, declining attendance is usually a sign that something is wrong. We measure youth ministry attendance because attendance matters!
2) Student Baptisms
This is an important measurement for us because it represents students taking their next steps in their walk with Christ. We want students to take ownership of their faith by taking one step at a time, and baptism is one of those steps. It’s a public declaration of faith and deepens a student’s connection to the church as a whole, so we track and celebrate every one!
3) Weekend Engagement
If students are only connected to a youth ministry, they will graduate from the church when they graduate high school. This isn’t the case when they are connected to the church body as a whole. We measure how well we are doing with this by measuring the percentage of students who attend church and serve on the weekend. It’s one of our most important metrics.
4) Volunteer Engagement and Growth
If your volunteers aren’t growing, neither is your youth ministry. We measure new volunteers and their leadership growth, because our volunteers are the most important part of our youth ministry. Plus, I don’t believe God will send us more students than we are ready to care for, so it’s important to grow in volunteers before growing in students.
5) New Students
We want to grow by reaching un-churched families, not those who are simply transferring from another church. One way we measure where our growth is coming from is by measuring new students. As long as new students are connecting to our ministry, we are growing. New students are an indicator of a healthy youth ministry.
What you don't measure you can't improve, so it’s time to measure what matters to you. Honestly, if you’re not measuring anything, you’re just guessing. Don’t guess about something as important as your ministry!
So what about you? What are you measuring? Does it match what you say matters most?