My daughter once drove her car without coolant. The mechanic who repaired her car had failed to reattach the coolant hoses properly, so it was not totally her fault. What was her fault was the fact that she saw a red light blinking on her dashboard and she ignored it. She didn't really know what it was so, she just kept driving. Her car got so hot the spark plug wires melted to her spark plugs. Miraculously, after minor repairs she was still able to drive it!
I am part of an organization called The Church Renewal Lab. One of the things our leader, Keith Doornbos, regularly reminds leaders to do is to check the "dashboard". By that he means, leaders need to know the most important indicators to being a vibrant, missional church. Leaders must identify those indicators and measure them as best they can. For example, if seeing people become followers of Jesus Christ is important for your church, you should be keeping track of how often that actually happens.
With that in mind, our Campus Leadership Team took some time at our meeting Tuesday night to look at our dashboard. We focused on four areas: Visitors, Commitments to Christ, Attendance and Giving. We acknowledged that there are other areas like Discipleship, Community Care and Service but we focused on the first four to start.
To measure the "visitor" gauge, I asked our team to come up with as many names as they could of folks they have met in church over the last three months. (We also knew how many Response Cards had been turned in.) I was surprised and encouraged at how many names went up on the board. The flow of new visitors is an essential sign that we are engaging our community. The visitor gauge was the strongest of all our gauges. Our preschool (Sunlight Christian Academy) is the biggest contributor to the flow of new visitors.
A good driver knows that glancing at the dashboard is essential but obsessing over the dashboard can be fatal! We don't want to be so consumed with the gauges that we fail to look through the windshield and see where we are going! After we took a glance at the gauges our leadership team spent some time talking about our most important goals for the coming year. We identified:
- Strengthening our preschool
- Corporate prayer
- Enfolding new people into our church family
- Engaging our community
These four things rose to the top in our discussion as priorities for this year. These goals are still "wet cement", still in "draft" mode, but we are looking through the windshield trying to discern where God is taking us as we build His Kingdom in this community. Will you join us in praying for these things? Pray also that we have the courage to keep checking the indicators on our dashboard.
It is tempting to just ignore the dashboard and keep driving as if everything is okay, especially if the indicators aren't as positive as we would like them to be. Good leaders know that ignoring the problem will never fix it. We must have the courage to keep asking the hard questions. Then, we seek God's guidance for the solutions.