Every church measures some form of activity. How many people attended worship. How many people are serving. How many are attending a group or class, etc.

Though this is important to measure, it isn’t the best way to measure success.

There is a big assumption when engagement in a program or activity equals transformation. 

We have found, in our own journey, as well as with the churches we work with we tend to  over-value the impact that is made in attendance. 


The problem with this is that just because someone attends a church program doesn’t mean that they are being transformed. You know this. But, isn’t it iconic that most of us still primarily measure people’s attendance in our programs? Without even fully realizing it, we make program activity the end goal, not individual transformation.

Without a clear picture of our church’s mission and the disciple-making traits we are trying to form in our people, we have no clarity on what is a real win. Without a shared disciple-making vision, we end up making our vehicles (a.k.a. programs) the vision. 

The result is a staff and congregation that replace disciple-making with program management. Over time, this leaves the staff dissatisfied and a cozy congregation. Truth be told, we’ve unintentionally trained them into this reality. 


Use the questions below to assess the degree of clarity you and your team shares when it comes to success on mission. Use this scale: 1 = disagree 2 = mostly disagree 3 = somewhat agree and 4= completely agree.

  1. Our church has a contextual and catalytic mission statement that calls every person to make disciples where they live, work, and play. (1-4)
  2. Our  has a clear and compelling definition of “our kind” of disciples that our local community desperately needs more of–providing our people a vivid picture of the most important character and competency traits of a reproducing disciple of Jesus. (1-4)
  3. Our church has a clear and effective strategy that helps us form “our kind” of disciples. (1-4)
  4. Our staff and key leaders are fully bought-in (attitude) and aligned (structure) around our church’s relationally-rich strategy for developing these kind of disciples. (1-4)
  5. Our church’s strategy moves people beyond church programming to live with and for Jesus among their existing relationships where they live, work and play. (1-4)

(Once you tally your score, we’d love to have a conversation with you on how to interpret your results. Let’s talk → )


We’re finding that for most churches, we need a paradigm shift.  As Dallas Willard once said, when measuring the effectiveness of our church’s fulfillment of the mission of Jesus, we “don’t count Christians, we weigh them.” 

Focusing on attendance in worship services, small groups, and volunteer teams is not wrong, but it is incomplete. We must move the finish line from counting collective engagement in church activities to the transformational development of disciples who embody the character and competency of Jesus in the places where they live, work, study and play.

Most churches would say they are all about the Great Commission but have never defined a disciple for their context. This seems a bit odd, doesn’t it. 

One of our ways we love to help church teams develop a biblically and contextually informed picture of a disciple that their local community desperately needs more of  is to work through three different bodies of biographical content:

  • The Life of Jesus: Work through the gospels identifying a list of the character and competency traits of Jesus. 
  • The Life of the Disciples: Next, work through the book of Acts and identify the character and competency traits of the disciples, who continued his mission after his death, resurrection and ascension. 
  • Their Top 10 Saints: Finally, as a team, make a list of the 10 (or even 20) individuals or families–from your church’s past or present– that embody the way of Jesus in your context. Identify the character and competency traits they hold in common. 

Then take the three lists and synthesize them identifying the top 5 character traits and the top 5 competency skills that identify the kinds of disciples that your church is focused on developing.

A more meaningful definition of success emerges when you have a contextual, catalytic, all-play mission that is coupled with a vivid, biblically inspired, picture of “our kind of disciple” that the whole leadership team shares. Both work to inform and align a church’s strategy.

At Clarity House, we love being a safe place for leaders to wrestle these sorts of questions. We specialize in assisting church teams in discerning a shared vision that is coupled with disciple-making clarity.