Session 4b: How Should We Measure Success by Kris Vos

When I think about the scorecard, first thought that comes to my mind is do we need to keep score? I’m a relational guy. It’s just like, let’s just love people and let’s not keep score. It’s much easier that way. And since I have been on this journey of renewal in Lake Worth, which is if you know anything about South Florida, the culture and the challenges are very different than in Indiana, where I spent 20 years in a church plant.

And there have been, especially early on in this process of bringing renewal in this context, when I have come to the end of the year and said I would much rather not ask the questions about the scorecard. We’ve set goals about reaching people, we’ve set goals about discipling people, we’ve set goals about the impact we want to have on this community. And it would be so much easier not to ask the questions, “Have we done that?”

And it is so tempting not to have a scorecard and just kind of cruise. But that’s not what we do. Keith teaches the Center for Church Renewal. And I see a number of faces have been through it. Having that dashboard, having that regular assessment, not just at the end of the year, but throughout the year regularly asking those questions.

And regardless of pandemic, or upheaval in our political system, or whatever it is, there are two things … There’s more than that, probably. But two things that are always at the top of my scorecard. Are we reaching lost people? Are we discipling people? And I hope that that never changes. No matter what the conflicts or challenges, we face that we are asking the hard questions as churches, are we living the mission? Are we reaching lost people? Are people coming to know Jesus Christ? And are we discipling people? Are we growing them up? It’s really the same thing, but we do both together in reaching people and then growing them deeper in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

So that said, the last year and a half has brought some incredible changes and upheaval. And there’s just a list up here. You know what they are, COVID, seismic political shifts, George Floyd, and a lot of other people surrounding that, and lockdown, and needs. So as our church moved into these challenges, we tried to … I always tell our folks when we make goals and we set strategic plans throughout the year, I always say, “This is Plan B, because God’s going to show us Plan A when we get there, right? It’s going to change.”

And man, the last year and a half has brought some radical changes. And with each one of these, I don’t know about you guys, but I have learned and read more in the last year and a half then I think I did in the five years previous. Because there was just so much I felt like I needed to learn and to grow in to help lead our people and to understand how we address what’s happening in our world.

So let me just put up the next slide there. COVID … When it came to … There’s controversy, and I’ve heard even just conversations around the table about how we handled wearing masks or not wearing masks, or when it was time, and when it was time to open children’s ministry and all … When it’s time to start serving refreshments again. All of those kinds of things, we tried our very best leadership to say, what are the folks in our community, if they come into our church, how can we best respond to them?

Many of whom are probably, I don’t know this, but probably watching CNN in our culture on a regular basis, so that’s the perspective that they’re bringing in. How can we best make them feel comfortable when they walk through the doors? And we’ve always tried to do that over the years, but I think even once again, it just reaffirmed that for us to say, how can we best … We may not want to do it, but how is it best going to serve the people of our community by just … If it’s easy enough for us to wear a mask, let’s put one on. Because it’s going to help ease their fears or uncertainty. And that we try to let that be our gauge.

The political upheaval in our world. That’s another one where I just tried to learn and to read more good kingdom oriented sources. To say how do we find what God … How is He building the kingdom in the midst of these earthly kingdoms, right? And how do we find the path? And how do we … You mentioned this too, how do we rediscover civility? The fruits of the spirit? How do we live those in conversation with people?

Because South Florida, especially our county, Palm Beach County, is incredibly divided and diverse in terms of its political orientation. So we’re all over the map in our small little congregation. Because we’re a small congregation. And so even in our little congregation, we’re very diverse. So trying to say at the end of the day, how are we training our people to be loving and kind in a culture of contempt? Because that’s what the news media teaches us how to communicate, is to communicate with contempt. That’s what’s going to get the point across. That’s what we hear on a regular basis. So how do we find sources in places where we learn how to communicate with civility and love each other in the process?

Another one in terms of George Floyd was … Nope, stay on that one, yeah. Listening to our neighbors. And I had built relationships with some of the people in my community, especially my friend, Tony Cato, who’s the pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church on the other end of Lake Worth, where I live. And I just realized when all of this started coming down, I got to listen more to Tony. I got to lunch with Tony, and he was ready to go. And I just, “Listen. Tony, what are you experiencing? Tell me what it’s like from your perspective.”

And then we had Tony come into our church and teach our congregation one Sunday morning to say, this is what … He brought a team of his folks to lead us in worship, and it was just a great morning of understanding in the midst of all this stuff that’s going on there, how do we as fellow Christians who have the kingdom as our ultimate goal, how do we come alongside people of different color and different backgrounds?

And since I’ve listened to Tony and listened to my partner in ministry, Eli Munoz, who’s our worship leader. I mean, I’ve read more books on understanding the racial divides in our culture. And I thought I was pretty adept, I thought I knew some stuff, and I have learned so much since all of this came about. And I hope our congregation has learned the same. As we listened to Tony, as we listened to our neighbors and said, “How do we understand this from a different perspective? How do we not just stay in our bubble and do business as usual?”

Lockdown needs. That was a big one for us. And as a small congregation, it’s difficult for us to have the resources and the volunteers to really do things big. So partnerships are huge. We partnered with an organization called Cross Ministries. They do a summer camp in our church every summer. Oh, I should watch my time. And they do, but they serve lots of people. They do gleaning in the farms all around and Palm Beach County. So we did gleaning with them, and we also did food distribution. They were able to set up a mobile food pantry in our parking lot twice a month.

And we welcomed that partnership with them, as well as Love Lake Worth, we partnered with other churches in our community to say, how can we come together as these smaller communities, smaller churches? But at the same time recognize there are a lot of people right now who are uncertain about where their next meal’s going to come from. And if we’re not trying to do something about that in our community, then we’re not being God’s presence in our community. So partnerships were huge through this, to say how do we partner with those who are doing it well and come alongside of them? We can’t do it on our own, but we can come alongside these organizations and help them do better what they’re already doing.

So those were some of the things that we tried to say here in a changing world with all of these major changes going on, here’s how we as a church can begin to address some of the challenges that we’re facing. And I could give you some more, but my time is up. Why don’t we throw up that last slide? And I’ll just let you meditate on these. No, the next one I think. Yeah. Nope, the one before it. One before it. That’s the one.

I came across this reading some years ago, reading N.T. Wright. And when I read it, and he’s … It’s in his book, Good News. I forget the full title. But I just read some of these things and I’m like, “Oh, okay. The one up there is … It’s sporadic.” The kingdom is sporadic. There are times when it’s like this, and there are times when it’s like this. And that doesn’t lessen the impact of God’s presence and impact on the world at all, but it’s helpful for us to understand that there are going to be times it’s really hard to look at the scorecard. We do it anyway, but it’s going to be hard to look at it, and we hold on for when God’s going to change things again. Tom. Tom and I were in a network together for a short time with Bob at Faith Church. So it’s good to see Tom again.

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