Aside from the socializing, I'm enjoying the theme of this year's MO Annual Conference - Growing Deeper. We have a tree symbol hanging up in front of the assembly, not quite a tree of life since the roots aren't as substantial as the branches, but close. Opening worship was done in a contemporary style with words on the screen but no music to look at or liturgy to follow. The sermon was good, with a lot of stories and references to John Wesley, but it ended with talk about numbers - and this is a big struggle for me.
How do we measure success in the church? Is it in the number of people listed as "members" of our churches? Is it in the number of people who show up for worship on Sunday? Does it have to about numbers at all? I prefer to think of quality rather than quantity but how do you attempt to measure quality of churches? or the Christians who attend them? I guess you'd have to start by determining the goal, the point of the church in the first place. Talking with an old friend tonight, he stated that the ministry of the church is to change lives. I can go with that. But how you measure your success at changing lives? What kind of change are we talking about? If a church has only 20 people in worship every Sunday but is feeding the homeless in their neighborhood, are they not changing lives? Perhaps more than the megachurch of 5000 that has people showing up for small group activities? I just don't know that we can boil it down to numbers and i get frustrated when we insist that we have to have a way to know if all of these program we try to do are working. I'm not convinced that the changes that have the most impact are going to manifest in the numbers that can be tracked at the conference office. What do you think? How does it work in your church or conference?