As I have continued to think about trying to develop evaluative measures for "success" in the life of the church and the church planting endeavor, I was struck by the alternative framework that Myers proposes in his book, The Search to Belong:
What organizations measure becomes important. Likewise, individuals measure what they find important in their lives. Measuring is not bad. However, many times we measure the wrong things, things that then take on an importance they do not deserve. I find that we measure what is easiest to quantify. If something is difficult to quantify, we try to find something similar that is not quite so difficult to count, and we measure that.
Spontaneity is difficult to measure, so many organizations do not measure it. And since they cannot measure it, it loses its importance. Yet people "count" the spontaneity in their lives all the time. They do not measure numerically, saying "I've had five spontaneous experiences today." Instead, they tell the story of the encounter:
-"I met someone very interesting in the deli today."
-"I had a great time at the concert. The crowd was really into it. We had such a good time."
-"It was as if we had known each other all our lives"
Stories are the measuring tools of spontaneity, of community, and of belonging. Organizationally, we can measure the spontaneous experiences of community by listening for the stories people share. Then it is our responsibility to tell and retell the stories to create an organizational climate of belonging.
Belonging cannot be measured in numbers. You may count attendance, but to give a conclusive number for those in your congregation who experience community is impossible. The stories we collect, however, help put together the community puzzle (The Search to Belong, pp. 79-80).
Is it possible to quantify some aspect of the "success" of a church according to the types of stories it tells?