Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).
Scorecards are essential in any game because they inform teams whether or not they are doing the right things and accomplishing their goals. Imagine getting a group together to watch the Super Bowl this year, but the NFL decided not to tally the score. The fans would be in an uproar and the players would have no desire to play! Why? Without a score, there is no purpose, no feat to accomplish, and no reason to give the game 110 percent. The simple dynamic of keeping score causes players to give the game all of their heart, mind, soul and strength.
In the church realm, it’s certainly not about being known as successful or winning a trophy, but it is about accomplishing Jesus’ vision for the church. If we don’t have a scorecard for the church, then how do we know if we are accomplishing Jesus’ purposes?
The truth is, every church has a scorecard, but it may not be the same scorecard Jesus gave his disciples. Sadly, many modern-day scorecards are a mere reflection of our consumeristic culture. Our culture values progress, growth, celebrity, acquisition and accumulation of material matter. However, Jesus modeled a very different value system and his disciples’ scorecards should reflect his value system.
I enjoy coming up with new ideas and innovations, but when it comes to a new scorecard for the church, I don’t believe we need a revolutionary innovation. If anything, we simply need to return to the scorecard which guided the early church. Have you ever wondered: what kind of scorecard did Peter, James, Junia, Timothy, John and Paul pass on to their protégés? Maybe, just maybe, if we were to resurrect this ancient scorecard, we would discover a calling worth living for and a mission worth dying for.
Before we look at a not-so-new scorecard, it is important to recognize how different the 21st century is to the 1st century. The goal should not be to model the forms and functions of the 1st century church within the 21st century. The goal should always be to maintain the values of the 1st century church within the 21st century church. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus never told his disciples how to structure the church? I suspect Jesus knew church leaders would be required to adjust and connect with every culture and generation, all the while maintaining his kingdom values and priorities.
Inadvertently, the scorecard many 21st century leaders have ascribed to deals with the number of attendance in Sunday worship gatherings, how much money the church is taking in, and how many facilities the church can acquire. These dynamics may be important to the overall missional realities, but none of them have anything to do with Jesus’ command to “Go therefore and make disciples.” Perhaps it’s time to get intentional about Jesus’ original scorecard and find a way to evaluate our missional progress. When it comes to bodies, budgets and buildings, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater—these elements may be necessary health indicators to measure, but let’s be clear, these are all secondary measurements.
Every leader needs to go through a discernment process and discover the unique scorecard fitting for their church’s culture. Below is an example scorecard reflecting Jesus’ Great Commission in three primary areas—discipleship, leadership and multiplication:
Discipleship (making disciples that make disciples)
- How many new disciples do we have in our church this year?
- How many disciples are intentionally making a disciple?
- How many disciples baptized a disciple this year?
- How many disciples are connected in a smaller group for the purposes of spiritual growth, accountability, service and outreach?
- How many of our disciples shared their faith with non-believers this year?
Leadership (equipping others to obey Jesus’ commands)
- How many of our disciples have entered into our church’s leadership development process?
- How many of our disciples are using their spiritual gifts in our church?
- How many of our disciples are using their equipping gifts in our church (apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, teacher)?
- How many of our equippers have an apprentice they are developing?
Multiplication (of all nations and people groups)
- How many leaders regularly pray for our church’s geographic missional strategy (Acts 1:8:Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth)?
- How many opportunities did our church create to call people out to live as sent ones?
- How many people did our church commission to be sent into another community or people group to live incarnationally this past year?
- How many new churches has our church incubated and initiated this past year?
- How many of our new churches reproduced within the past three years?
Now that you’ve processed this ancient scorecard, consider getting some of your leaders together and honestly answer each question to the best of your abilities. Maybe God will use this scorecard to strengthen your calling and provoke mission-critical conversations. You may find you have a lot to celebrate or you may find a lot to change. If you notice you have a lot to change, it is important to spend time in prayer, asking the Lord to bring clarity to your church’s discipleship and leadership environments. As you lead your church toward fulfilling the Great Commission, I hope you hear your Heavenly Father whisper, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).