On Monday I wrote about a leadership lesson I learned from growing grass. I shared how I failed early in growing new native Texas grass (on the first attempt) because I didn’t know what success looked like.

Honestly, I believe that many of us in ministry wouldn’t know success if it smacked us in the face. Don’t get offended, for most of my years in ministry, I didn’t really know what it looked like either. There’s a great chapter in the book I helped write last year about measuring success and I believe that it speaks to this very issue. You can get The Eric Trap here.

I think that most of the time, we dive into a program, an event or some other activity without asking ourselves the questions, “what does success look like? Is success measurable? Will we measure it? Will we celebrate it?”

No, we usually just jump in and do stuff. We “feel” that we’re successful if we have a certain number of people attend or we raise a certain amount of money or some other highly tangible goal. However, I’ve found that many of these “feel good” indicators probably don’t address the things that are WORTH measuring. Sure, maybe we had a big crowd show up for the event, but will the financial/time investment produce a return worth the investment? Does it address issues that are most important to you and your leaders?

I know a lot of ministries hold VBS. I have nothing against VBS. I’ve done VBS for years. However, are you creating measurable indicators of success around your VBS? Sure you had 500 kids at your VBS, but half of the kids in your attendance already did your VBS theme, three times… this summer. The church staffs that send their kids to VBS every week of the summer thank you for helping them piece together their summer childcare.

I know, I know. Not everyone approach VBS that way, but some do. It’t not just VBS though. It’s the Harvest Parties. It’s lock-ins. It’s high attendance weekends or whatever else. Have you clearly defined success? Is it attainable? Is this success worth it?

Just a few things worth considering. There’s a lot of things that look like success, but when you look at it closely or look at it from a much higher perspective, it loses it’s value. I just encourage you to stop for a minute and take a closer look.