“If congregations spend all their time measuring the same things that other nonprofits focus on without bothering to set metrics that are faith based, why do they exist? Isn’t this missing the point?”
-from Faithful Metrics
The past is a powerful influencer of the future. If we let them, the decisions we made yesterday will determine what is possible tomorrow. Our past processes, assumptions, relationships, and ways of thinking about church, faith, God, and our own life have worked for us in the past. Being locked in to these previous conditions for success and general theological groundings tends to reinforce a path that is inherently filled with assumptions – assumptions that Hahn, in Faithful Metrics believes can and should be questioned.
Questioning these perspectives is not a critique of the past, yet people will often feel reactive, defensive, or sad people about potential change. Instead, it is an opportunity to disable constraints that may be limiting us from catching up to a creative and creating God. How we think about church – our preconceptions, the stories we tell ourselves, and the culture we have become locked into – is preventing us from moving from a victim mindset to a more productive learner mindset.
Faithful Metrics is a field guide for us as leaders who want to do more than talk about a path forward. We can surface and name the tendencies and biases we have as a group while we reflect on our language and what we mean by it. We can ask new questions. We can set metrics that are both faithful and freeing as we consider ways to empower our community to be revitalized.
As church leaders, we can be freed from our obsession to compare ourselves to other congregations. It is hard to find examples of really amazing things that happen solely due to competition. Rather than a focus on being better than XYZ congregation, leaders can ask better questions.
What has God uniquely gifted and called us to do in this neighborhood?
Where can we make an amazing contribution to the world as we live out of the compassionate grace of God in our own lives? The metrics we set can help us make incremental shifts that reveal more about our place in God’s world. What we measure matters. We are not another non-profit organization. We are the church. We can set metrics that support our shared values and purpose for a different future.
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“Church leaders often either lean too heavily on the limited metrics of budgets and attendance, or they swing the pendulum the other way, writing off any analysis completely, with phrases like, ‘We’re not about numbers; we’re about people.’ Peggy Hahn gives us a soulful way to take a meaningful look at ministry, focusing beyond nickels and noses to reenergize the deeper work of ministry. This book is best read by a church leadership team together.”
-Bishop Michael Rinehart
The Camino de Santiago serves as a metaphor for the journey through this field guide. The photos in the book are from Peggy Hahn’s own pilgrimage on the Camino in Spain.