Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mars Hill Measures Itself

A happy coincidence: Following my SearchWarp post yesterday exploring the ways attractional and missional churches measure growth and success, I found today (via their Twitter updates) that Mars Hill Seattle has released its latest growth statistics:
[H]ere is a picture of Mars Hill Church by the numbers:

* Average weekly attendance for 2007-2008 = 5,771
* High attendance for 2007-2008 = 8,070 (Easter Sunday)
* Number of new campuses in 2007-2008 = 4 (Lake City, Bellevue, Downtown Seattle, Olympia)
* Number of community groups = 195
* Number of new bands = 13
* Over the last 3 years, giving increased an average of 42% and attendance increased an average of 26% (per year).

I found that data interesting. What I found refreshing is this analysis:
Numerical growth is relatively easy to measure. Church health, on the other hand, does not lend itself to quantification. To paraphrase 1 Samuel 16:7, men tally service attendance and financial contributions, “but the Lord looks on the heart.” How can we know that we’re a people growing in our faith and not just keeping busy? The Lord looks on the heart, and only the Lord truly knows what’s there, but he’s given us things like prayer, the Bible, and each other to align our hearts with his.

What’s more, pastors are burdened with a special responsibility for the care of the congregation in their charge (Heb. 13:17). We have been commissioned by God to shepherd you (our local church) well—which means we must take time to reflect on the way things are going, which in turn means we must agree on measures to assess progress, which in turn means we must identify the indicators (if not quantifiers) of church health and fruitful ministry.

Our intent in all of this record keeping is not to reduce the Great Commission to a raw numbers game. These indicators are merely one way to monitor the general state of our church and keep track of the direction in which we’re heading to ensure that it’s faithful and sound. We share all of this information because we love our church family and we desire the faithful to be knowledgeable and united, that we may continue forward together, for the sake of the gospel and Jesus’ glory.

Good stuff.


Jared said...

Btw: I have no idea what the importance is behind counting the "number of new bands."

Artistic influence?

Bill said...

Yeah, that totally threw me too.

As someone who used to do worship ministry (and still feels it to be important) my first reaction was "who cares how many new bands you've come up with".

Worship bands are a dime a dozen these days. God bless the faithful people using their gifts there, but I don't consider that a prime statistic of church growth.

J. Michael Matkin said...

I'm guessing here but I don't think the reference in necessarily to worship bands. Mars Hill has prided itself for a long time on heavy involvement in the local music scene as a means of both participation in the community and outreach. So maybe that's what the reference to bands is about. It would be interesting to find out.