Mission Driven By the Numbers

Patrick DugganThis week’s post is written by the Rev. Dr. Patrick G. Duggan, Executive Director of the United Church of Christ Church Building & Loan Fund. Since 1995, Rev. Dr. Duggan has also served as senior pastor of the Congregational Church of South Hempstead in South Hempstead, New York.


In January 2017, the United Church of Christ Church Building and Loan Fund (CB&LF) enters the final year of its first three-year Mission Implementation Strategy (MIS). The MIS was developed after reflection on CB&LF’s mission, the discernment of a three-year vision, and months of planning by CB&LF’s board and staff in 2014. Its three goals and 12 objectives reflect the needs and concerns of over 500 churches surveyed in 2014.  Many hands went into this work.

A plan is only as good as the results it produces, however. Performance toward goals and objectives suggests that our plan was highly effective. With one year to go, CB&LF is on track to exceed performance in 11 objectives, and meet expected performance in one. 

Meeting objectives attains goals. Attaining goals drives mission. Advancing the mission leads to realization of the vision.  Board and staff can review a three-page summary of CB&LF’s progress toward the 2015- 2017 MIS goals and objectives and have a thorough understanding of the organization’s performance.

So what?  How has the world changed as a result of CB&LF’s recent performance?  It is one thing to meet self-made objectives; how do we know that advancing the Fund’s mission has solved real problems? CB&LF has helped churches with building projects, but how have these projects enabled congregations to advance the Gospel? Have more people been fed, clothed, lifted out of poverty, and/or drawn more deeply into faith-driven lives? And if these things have been accomplished, how do we know that the Fund was the difference-maker? In other words, if it had not been for CB&LF, would this transformation have happened anyway?

We have created a process that gives us the first level of performance metrics (tactics, objectives, goals & strategies) that can be viewed over a finite time period (three years). The success of our first MIS has led us to begin work on a similar plan for 2018-2020, with a goal of adopting it at the October 2017 CB&LF board meeting. Beyond its success, however, results from the first MIS have led us to think beyond performance metrics to consider the broader context of advancing the mission of the UCC and the church universal. To address this critical need, the 2018-2020 MIS will include the development of metrics that look at both Fund performance and mission impact. By 2020, in addition to measuring the facts of performance, we intend to determine the impact of the Fund in reducing poverty, enhancing the environment, deploying financial assets to transform congregations and communities, investing for social impact, creating a just world for all.

To our knowledge, there is no ‘industry standard’  for church impact metrics. We intend to create the first one; one that works for CB&LF, other financial ministries, UCC Conferences, Associations, congregations, and any other church or church-affiliated organizations. The next UCC ‘first’ may be the creation of a universal church impact metric.

Every day, Christians engage in acts of kindness, justice and love both individually and corporately. To stand fully in our role as a preeminent force for good in a culture of unconstrained violence and evil, we must move beyond counting the number of good deeds, telling stories, and sharing tear-jerker anecdotes. God is calling us to boldly demonstrate the scale and impact of the church at work in the world. Let the redeemed of the Lord show it!


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