We’ve been unpacking some lessons learned from planting a church within the Disney (World) employees by Steven Barr, the founder of “Cast Member Church”. You can read the entire article here: Five Lessons Learned From a Church Embedded in The Walt Disney Company – Fresh Expressions
So far we’ve looks at the first two lessons, (1) Don’t plant a church; plant Jesus, and (2) Prioritize Intercessory Prayer Over Strategy. This week, I want to examine lesson #3: “Change Your Metrics.”
Metrics are what we use to measure the “success” of a church plant. For the most part, we have used the metrics of business to measure a church’s successfulness up to now, so we enumerate “buildings, budgets, and butts in seats”! When pastors gather at conferences, they almost always ask these types of metrical questions of each other. “Hey, Bob, how’s your church doing? How many do you get on a Sunday now?” And Bob’s answer is usually “Oh, great, great! Yeah, we’re worshipping a zillion a week now!”
But Jesus used a different metric. He talked about fruit, not numbers. Jesus was/is more interested in the fruitfulness of individual Christians and congregations than He is/was the numbers (whether people or money). Jesus has more interest in lives being changed! To be fair, the “numbers” game is founded on the assumption that “the more people we have, the more lives will be changed.” But the reality is that large churches can be fruitless just as easily as small churches can be! In fact, Jesus said something about being faithful in small things translates into being faithful in larger things (see Luke 16:10).
The Bible talks a lot about fruit. The fruit, or produce, of our lives is the indicator of our faithfulness or lack thereof. Growing fruit requires hard work, dirty hands, and a lot of faith! We can do all of the things right, and still not produce the fruit we intended to. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:6: “6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.“ We can work and work hard and still not yield significant fruit if we are not working in line with God’s plan for growth!
So, our questions to one another should shift from “how many attended” to things like, “Are there any stories of lives being changed? Was there significant prayer? Were people who don’t know Jesus invited? Were there any miracles? Was worship deep and moving? How did God show up?”
Changing the metrics by which we measure our work as a church is an important shift. We are not a business, so much, as a mission outpost.
Next time, we’ll look at lesson #4: Stop Labeling People!