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Difference     Allow me to clarify that this article is an adaptation from Will Mancini’s book Innovating Discipleship!  Please get the book and read it because this book was the motivation for this post.  All of Will’s materials are awesome and I certainly want to make sure he receives the credit for excellent materials!

   “How do you want your church to be different two years from now?”  The typical answer is, “We want more people!”  That can be expressed in different forms such as; “We want our auditorium full!” or “We want to start more small groups!” or “We want to see our attendance grow by 10%!” or “We want to start additional services so more people can attend!”  Everyone wants more people and more people is good.  Jesus wants more people and we should count people because people count.  The problem is when the numbers become the end result.    

     It is interesting that we do not hear the following very often: “We want to see more people desperate for Jesus!” or “We want to see our homes strengthened and more families having devotionals together!” or “We want to see our students on fire for God and living on mission to reach their campus for Christ!” or “We want to see more members building meaningful relationships with people who are far from Christ!”  Yet, despite a wide variety of many biblical and gospel centered answers it seems the default answer is, “More people!”

     It seems that the focus of many churches is on where they can find their next church member instead of how they can equip, empower, and release their members to take their communities and cities for Christ.  Being different will require refocusing your church on the biblical mandate given by Jesus to make disciples.  Will Mancini says this about discipleship in churches, “We traffic in loving lingo and making disciples mantra.  We allow generic output language to validate our intent while we use input data to validate our success.”

     We can no longer allow good numbers and good programs to validate our good intentions of making disciples.  The question then is, “How do we and can we measure that?”  How will we know two years from now that we truly are different?  There are three metrics that will help you in determining your effectiveness in the area of making disciples.  Remember that discipleship is not a program but rather a life-time adventure.  It is more about doing life together than it is a curriculum and is measured more by life transformation than information transfer.

     The first metric is; The Involvement of People!  This measurement has been described as the 3 B’s; bodies, bucks, and buildings. These areas are what is measured the most because they are the easiest to keep track of.  Keeping track of nickels and noses is important but it is only the beginning point not the end.  We have not arrived by how many we have attending but rather by what we are doing with those who are coming.  Does your church have a clear biblical process of how to move someone from spiritual immaturity to spiritual maturity?  Do you?

     The second metric is; Individual Transformation!  What kind of product is your church producing?  Is there ample evidence of life transformation in the lives of those who are being discipled?  The attendance board is fine and dandy but the bigger question is what are those attending doing for the furtherance of the gospel?  Are they daily in the word of God and developing a powerful consistent prayer life?  Are they daily striving to build relationships with those far from God so that they might be able to share the love of God?  Are they being “salt” and “light” and are they involved in discipleship?

     The third metric is; Impact on the community!  The natural (actually supernatural) outcome of people getting involved and their lives being transformed is the impact it will have on their communities and cities.  The by-product of being a “different” kind of church is that it will not only transform their lives but it will transform the lives of those they minister to.  The number of the homeless will decrease.  The percentage of teenage pregnancies will be reduced.  The high school graduation rate will increase and the crime rate will decrease.

     Our effectiveness is not measured solely by how many we have in attendance, how well our offerings are doing, or whether our facilities are adequate or not.  The real metric is the transformation of our communities and cities that comes when we are walking with Christ and conforming to His image.  So, how do you want your church to be different two years from now?  What’s at stake?  The mission God has given us of making disciples.  Dallas Willard says, “Instead of counting Christians, we need to weigh them!”

     Healthy churches rejoice when people become involved but are not satisfied until every member is involved in making disciples!