What’s Not on the Report

Health matters more than size.

But healthy markers don’t get celebrated as often as size.

I think, talk, and write a lot about the local church because I’m called and privileged to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Within my church circles, monthly reports for the pastor and on behalf of the church are a tradition. These forms have required fields for specific data that we send into our regional office.

The good thing is that I like numbers, data, and charts. Actual numbers keep a pastor from exaggerating or “speaking evangelistically,” as some would say. Keeping up with attendance, baptisms, budgets, converts, and membership information is necessary. I even keep up with what I’ve preached and when and where that message was delivered. I’m nerdy enough to insist on data integrity.

Raw data doesn’t lie. But it doesn’t tell the whole story either.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about those items that don’t make the monthly report. These are behind-the-scenes markers that tell the tale of our church health.

As they came to mind, here are some recent examples from our church that aren’t recorded measurables for monthly reports. They’re not listed in order of importance.

  • About a dozen men met at a local restaurant for a Saturday morning breakfast. There was no guest speaker. They spent most of their time getting to know one another and that relationship building is good for the health of our church.
  • Several church members were recently inspired to get back into Bible-reading. One member stopped by the office to pick up a plan. His family will benefit from this, which means the church grows healthier.
  • Men in their twenties and thirties are prioritizing their lives to “seek first the Kingdom of God.” Their future selfs will thank them.
  • Our first Sunday night prayer meeting had about forty people present and praying in the same direction. This is the most crucial meeting for present and future church health.
  • Several of our volunteer workers have a renewed identity focus as servants of God. They’re taking on new ministry efforts to help our mission. Having the right people in the right seats on the bus means we can grow more healthy Christians.
  • A handful of people in our congregation are learning the spiritual discipline of fasting and prayer for the first time. New levels of growth are on the way for them, and I can’t wait to see it happen.
  • We have first-time guests almost every week. The population of our communities is growing, so that helps us reach more people with the Gospel. But no one forces them to choose to worship with us. Our culture is built on asking God to send them to us, and we expect them every Sunday.

I could literally go on and on listing items that aren’t reflected on a monthly report. But these are the recent indicators of our church health. And a church that maintains good spiritual health will reach more people with the Gospel and grow Christians.

I’m not obsessed with numbers, but I know they matter. There’s actually a whole book in my Bible called Numbers. The Early Church of Acts set a precedent for us to record numbers to see how God grows His Church.

So, I keep up with numbers because I know behind every number, there’s a soul whose worth Jesus thought was to die for. And in every soul, there’s another immeasurable health marker like those I’ve shared. They’re not on the report, but I know Heaven sees, and I thank God for each of them!

What markers of church health are you seeing in your church?

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