Last night I caught the end of Big Bang Theory with Wendy. There was a line in it that caught my attention (which I am now probably going to butcher because I didn’t write it down). In a passing shot about church Blossom (that was Blossom right?) made the statement, “I’m don’t have an aversion to the idea of a deity; although I don’t know why one would need to take attendance.”
So let me pose to you a hypothetical situation that I have experienced at almost every church I’ve served in at one time or another.
Billy is a pastor at a small church that he desperately wants to see grow. He measures the standard big three each week: attendance, baptism, and tithe. Suddenly his congregation starts getting a steady trickle of visitors. It starts with one new family. Then two the next Sunday. Then four. Them more. By this point Billy is pumped. “God is doing something awesome!” he thinks to himself. After weeks of this he pins one of the visiting families down to ask them how they found out about the church.
The visitor replies, “Well, we were all going to the monstrously huge church down the road, but they have started doing some stuff we don’t like. We used to drive by this church on the way there, so we thought we would give this one a try.”
Should Billy continue to celebrate this as a victory?
Attendance = up = good
Tithe = up = good
Baptisms = they have kids = could go up = gooooood
What should be Billy’s next step?
Maybe he should put a sign outside that reads, “Think your current church stinks? Come give us a try! We know how to ROCK!”
We need to change what we measure because, to quote Reggie McNeal in a recent sermon I heard, “your score card effects your behavior.”