Outputs

Not ready for prime time newsletters

I wrote this article for the church newsletter but after talking with Estee about this, we agreed it might be too technical for the newsletter. So instead of trashing the work I have done here, I want to post it here for thoughts as well as keeping it somewhere I can access later.

What do you think, is this too technical or too critical?



     We want to share with the church what has been shared with the Administrative council and long range planning committee because the following deeply impacts the way we at SUMC will “do” ministry. We are relying heavily upon the Rev. Gil Rendle (a consultant for the Texas Methodist Foundation as well as an elder in the UMC) who teaches about systems.

     A church is a system that is made up of three basic parts - inputs, throughputs and outputs. At SUMC we might say the inputs are the resources we have (members, money, building, etc.) and throughputs are the things we do with those resources (create ministries, develop programs, conduct worship, etc.). The resources and ministries of SUMC are very important to the mission we are called by God to accomplish.

     However, collecting resources and building ministries are not the end, rather they are the means to an end. We call this “end” the outputs or our outcomes. Too often churches do not know what their outcomes are and so instead the church focuses on the inputs and throughputs. Consider how many times you have been in a meeting and the conversation has focused on how much/little money or volunteers you have. Or perhaps you might have thought that SUMC would grow if only a certain ministry existed. These are not bad conversations, but when allowed to be the only conversation then we never talk about what the outcomes God expects from SUMC. So when SUMC sets goals for the year, the goals reflect a desire to “grow” and that growth often looks like gathering more inputs (people and money) and throughputs (ministries), but the goals do not reflect any desire for outcomes. Popular goals of a church are to have in increased worship attendance or creating an age specific ministry. The funny thing is that getting more resources and ministries is easy work compared to achieving the outcomes that God desires. Jesus never took the time to try to get more resources or ministries but took a lot of time trying to transform peoples lives. SUMC is not in the “business” of accumulating inputs and throughputs, if anything we are in the “business” of the output of transformation. 

     We are inviting everyone to prayerfully consider what outcomes God is calling SUMC to achieve. We encourage you to think beyond inputs and throughputs and focus on outputs. Here is an example to consider that might help direct your thought. If we were no longer counting worship attendance but counted only those people who are more peaceful or more joyful because of their time participating in SUMC, would you be counted?