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Metrics That Matter – 5

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been taking a look at the metrics that drive church health. As we have seen, the “nickels and noses” measures of local church life aren’t truly the best measures of church health. In fact, in the U.S. Assemblies of God today, a slightly higher percentage of large churches are plateaued or declining than are smaller churches.

So what is healthy anyway?

For a Pentecostal congregation, it’s hard to argue against the priority of effective reproduction. After all, if the assignment is to make disciples and we, ourselves, are disciples, then reproducing ourselves or establishing others on our same path would seem to be the general idea. Of course, reproducing would also include multiplying ministries, congregations, and every other expression of disciple life we are living together.

5. The AS Ratio

Our next metric to consider seeks to measure exactly that. How are we doing with reproducing Spirit-empowered disciples? After all, if we don’t produce such people, from where will the next generation of Pentecostals find their missionaries, their pastors, their deacons? Since the experience of Spirit baptism is essential for roles of spiritual leadership, the local church must begin to measure how they are doing with the effort to produce such people.

Sadly, many churches struggle to find a sufficient number of leaders who meet these qualifications. Some meet in communities where pastor candidates don’t exactly line up. Others sweat through their annual business meeting preparations, wondering if someone qualified to fill an empty deacon slot will emerge. Let’s not forget the “out there” assignment either. Will we find Spirit-empowered people to send across the globe in the next generation? If we don’t reproduce Spirit-empowered disciples in our generation, the answer will get uncomfortable in a hurry.

The AS Ratio measures average Sunday attendance against annual Spirit-baptisms. In our last blog, we already learned how to measure discipleship and mobilization using a comparison of Conversions and Spirit-baptisms. When we elevate the focus to the entire congregation, we’re asking, “How many of us does it take to produce a Spirit-baptized disciple?” Frankly, if we’re not doing that sufficiently, then we won’t have the Spirit-empowered leaders available in the future.

Since we said that a healthy missional effectiveness ratio (AC) would be one annual conversion for every five attenders, and we said that a healthy discipleship/mobilization ratio (CS) would see one Spirit baptism for between 3 and 4 annual conversions, we can put these two together to find the AS Ratio. The formula works like this:

AC Ratio x CS Ratio = AS Ratio

So, if we’re producing at the healthy levels, the following would be seen:

5.0 (AC) x (3.0 > CS >4.0) = 15.0 > AS > 20.0

This means that if both the AC and CS ratios are healthy, our AS would be between 15:1 and 20:1. Of course, you can do less math and simply divide your average attendance by the number of annual Spirit baptisms to get the AS Ratio, but using the AC and CS Ratios will help you uncover which might be bringing unhealthy results.

What does it all mean? Let’s say a church of 200 in attendance saw 5 people experience Spirit baptism last year. That means the church has an AS Ratio of 40:1. Now we should rejoice over the 5, but we actually didn’t see enough Spirit-baptized to demonstrate healthy reproduction. Using our 15:1 – 20:1 target, we know that a church that is reproducing at a healthy level, would likely see 10-14 such baptisms, if they are discipling and mobilizing their people at a healthy levels.

Now, don’t get lost in numbers. Just understand that the Spirit-empowered future of your congregation will likely be determined by whether or not you’re reproducing the Spirit-empowered reality of your current generation. If your church is growing but you’re producing fewer and fewer Spirit-empowered leaders, how can that future emerge?

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