By Jim Tune
In church circles, we talk about the three B’s: budgets, butts, and buildings. I get it. These are standard ways of determining success in most ministries because they are tangible and easy to measure.
I’d like to suggest some additional metrics we might apply to our effectiveness. Let me pose them as a series of questions:
• Are people’s gifts and talents being drawn out of them and used to extend grace and encouragement to others?
• Are we increasingly willing to give a rip about that person everyone else has given up on?
• Are we practicing informal and spontaneous hospitality, inviting neighbors, strangers, and others into our homes for meals?
• Are we looking after orphans and widows in their distress?
• Are we moving beyond quick fixes and simple solutions to embrace the long, hard journey of relationships with other people where we weep together, celebrate together, and feel each other’s pain?
• Are voices being used that once were silenced?
• Are fear and shame lessening and losing their control over people’s lives as they participate in safe and authentic community?
• Are people less isolated and more connected?
• Are we mindful that others won’t always see it the way we do and it’s not our job to tell them they are supposed to; instead can we quietly and tangibly love them in their lostness?
• Are we humble enough to let others help us when we are in the same boat and can’t see the forest for the trees?
Admittedly, these are difficult questions to answer or quantify. In our Western worldview, we associate size, economic clout, status, and wealth with success. But in the kingdom of God, greatness is not measured this way. In God’s kingdom the smallest becomes the biggest and the greatest citizens are its invisible sons and daughters.
These questions probe beyond our attendance habits, program enrollment, or offerings and ask us how we are really doing in our common life together. Scripture encourages us in this: “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).
Stanley Hauerwas challenges me here. He asks Evangelicals to consider what kinds of people we need to be in order to make sense of the things we say Scripture demands of us.
We make sense of what Scripture says when we pursue the upside-down priorities of kingdom living. It’s really only from within our community’s life that we can know who and what we are becoming.