Can We Measure Success in Ministry?


I’m at a loss.

Not the first time, and, unfortunately, won’t be the last time. The question I’ve been struggling with lately is one that has been asked before. I wish there was an easy answer, but, there is not.

The question: how do I measure success in ministry?

Some folks might like to say that it is about the numbers of people we see in the pews at church. What exactly does that measure? Maybe it is the attendance to ministry programs, or the amount of money that is pledged, or the number of sacraments performed. Again, what exactly does that measure?

Still, others might say it is about faith. If our youth, parents, seniors, dogs, and cats have faith, then we’ve been successful. Okay, how do you measure if someone has faith?

It is one of the biggest challenges working in the world of non-profit ministry. Like a for-profit corporation, we cannot measure our success based on dollars and cents and alone. Money is a resource, not a goal. We absolutely need money to do ministry, but the gain of money is not why our ministry exists.

My ministry team and I went for a day out of the office so we could focus on the next two years of ministry to determine our goals, and we struggled a lot with this question.

We named that our ultimate purpose for what we do is to create a vibrant faith in Christ and God that is rooted in a Christian community. By itself, that is difficult to measure. So we had to dive deeper down. How do we go about creating a vibrant faith?

Ultimately, we dove down so deep as to name indicators of what that success might look like. We put metrics to those goals and constituted a plan. We now have measurable goals. If we hit our target, good. If not?

Are we on target? I’m not sure. I think what we are doing is good, but I am still not sure we are measuring our success well. I don’t want my team to become so driven by numbers that we lose focus on our vision and mission.

This is a work in progress. It is one that I’m sure you have struggled with as well.

How do you measure success in your ministry? How do you know you have been successful in ministry?


John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.

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