One of the ways we as church leaders have most-often measured success has been though measuring the number of people who are members or who attend worship. This certainly has value, and according to these measures, UM4GI congregations seem to be showing positive growth. Obviously, this is an exciting time, and we have much to celebrate! Even with this good news, I often find myself wondering if we’re using the right metrics. I wonder if the number of people who are here in our UM4GI buildings is the number we should be measuring.
I wonder if the number of people who are here should be prioritized over the number of people who are not here. Statistics show that very often church growth can be attributed simply to movement from one church community to another. And the far greater number is those who have no association with any church community. How do we reach those people? How can we welcome persons who are not part of a faith tradition? How can we make an impression on the community of Grand Island that shows that we are an active faith community doing things that matter? How can the things we do invite and inspire others to join in those efforts?
I wonder if one way to do just that is to focus our energy on how many people we are able to serve. Clearly this is different from counting the number of people who are already here, and I’m not saying we should stop thinking about membership and worship attendance. I simply wonder if prioritizing the number of people we serve might naturally influence (and grow) the number of people who attend worship and who join one of our congregations. It is surely difficult to count how many people are served by members of UM4GI congregations, and I’m honestly not sure this is the perfect idea.
With that said, it brings to mind an interesting thought. What if each of us worked through our days looking for ways to serve those around us? Whether it is corporately (as a church) or individually, what if we worked each day to do something for someone else. What if we were unabashedly selfless in our service? That reminds me of Jesus. That reminds me of what he taught his disciples and how he lived his life. And that’s exciting!