Most contemporary observers agree that a shift from membership to discipleship is now taking place. Younger generations in particular want to know how to impact the world, not simply maintain an institution.
Holy Cow! Consulting has been examining the organizational intelligence generated by churches that have added the Flow Module to their standard Church Assessment Tool. The Flow Module was developed in collaboration with the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta to measure the degree to which the impact of discipleship was “flowing” out into the world. Here are some of the findings from a “typical” church.
In response to the statement On the whole, I would say that my current level of engagement to impact the world as an expression of my Christian discipleship is… About 40% of respondents indicate it is “lower than I would like it to be,” and about 10% indicate it is “much lower than I would like it to be.” Roughly half indicate it is “about right.”
In addition, one in two respondents indicates that they do not volunteer any time each month serving the community or world. The fact that about 50% of respondents indicate they make no contribution to the community or world at all combined with their admitted dissatisfaction with their level of impact suggests significant untapped potential.
In spite of the theological affirmation that work in the world is vocation, that is a calling to serve God, almost half of respondents indicate that their work is “just” or “mostly” a way of making a living.
What are the factors that have the biggest impact on whether a person decides to engage an opportunity of service? In the typical church, the top two are:
- The degree to which opportunities are a good fit for the person’s gifts and interests.
- The effectiveness of the opportunity in making a real difference in the person’s life and in the lives of others.
However, these vary somewhat from one church to another. For example, in one church, How well opportunities fit into my schedule and lifestyle is a top priority. The only way to know how a particular church is doing in equipping disciples versus developing members is through Organizational Intelligence (OI).
However, churches cannot simply decide to shift all their energy to external ministry. The OI is very clear: equipping members to serve in the world is no substitute for quality internal ministries such as worship, pastoral leadership, participatory decision-making, hospitality, and spiritual formation. As in baseball, you cannot skip the bases no matter how well you are hitting the ball out of the park.