It was management expert Peter Drucker who coined the popular phrase “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” But this principle has a history that dates Peter Drucker by some 2,000 years.
Jesus said in Matthew 18:12-14, “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.”
The question begs: How did the shepherd know that one of his one hundred sheep was missing? The answer is obvious: He counted! That shepherd loved his sheep, and not wanting to lose a single one, he kept inventory.
This passage, though not originally written for pastors, is nevertheless instructive for pastors.
As pastors, we must take stock of the spiritual condition of the flock that God has entrusted to our care. They are not our sheep, rather they have been entrusted to us to steward and one day we’ll give an account to God on the kind of job we did. Hebrews 13:17 says the job of a pastor is to watch out for the souls of those within their congregations and that one day they will give an account for the kind of job they did.
Well how can we know the condition of their soul? When it comes to their physical health, all we need is to utilize a stethoscope, or measure their blood pressure with one of those arm bands, or give them an x-ray or MRI. But how can we know where our people are at with their spiritual health?
We can know by tracking key metrics. For example…
If they are sharing their faith then the number of first-time guests should be up, right? (as should total attendance)
If they are engaging in biblical community, so that as iron sharpens iron, one person can sharpen another, then growth group participation numbers should be growing, right?
How can we know if someone’s heart is growing towards God and the things of God? Well, Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So we could track giving to get a gauge on where someone’s heart is, right?
How do we know if someone is following in the footsteps of Jesus, who told us in John 13 “As I have served you, so you must serve one another”? Well, we could track the number of people serving in the church, right?
I could go on, but I think you get the point. Tracking stats gives us a gauge at how we’re doing at making disciples. The data informs us where we’re winning and where we need improvement. But if we’re not tracking, how can we know?