How Do You Measure Preaching? Part 2

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the kind words, but deep down I know that the number of people that said “Great message Pastor” isn’t a very helpful way to measure if I’m doing well as a communicator. We appreciate the encouragement…it would suck if everyone just avoided eye contact…but there has to be a better way to know if this talk hit the mark or if this series was a success. 

There is. 

This is far more detailed measurement that we typically think about but it can be valuable when we are trying to create the best experience possible for our church and community.

Four Measurements.png

Last week we talked about the difference between measuring opportunities vs results (How Do You Measure Preaching? Part1 ). Today we are going to dive much deeper into the details of measuring results. 

Before we start, let’s make sure we are starting on some common ground. 

First, we are going to assume we are working with a series of messages (we will refer to this as a Teaching Series). Second, we will assume that you’ve read “Create A Killer Series” and that your entire series is trying to reach a common objective. To use an example from the book, let’s say you are creating a series around the art of neighboring. Every message in your Teaching Series will be moving people towards your series goal " ...our audience will be a positive influence in the lives of their neighbors and community.” In this example we are ultimately trying to unearth examples of our church impacting our neighborhoods in a positive way. This is an impactful and obtainable goal. 

If we agree on the common ground we can begin to look at the most impactful measurements around any given teaching series. We will look at four progressive measurements that will help us better understand the impact of our teaching. 

Measurement #1 - Smile Test

The smile test is really about measuring the immediate emotional reaction to any singe message. How did they feel walking out? Did they have a smile on their face? Did they laugh, clap or respond during your message?

If you are really serious (though I would do this sparingly), ask them. Have a handful of people sample your audience as they leave the service. 

Measurement #2 - Commitment Test

I briefly covered the commitment test in "How Do You Measure Preaching? Part1 where I talked about a call to action. How are you instructing your audience to move forward? How can they apply what you are teaching? Many churches use some form of comment card to gauge this. They will list a couple of next steps or ways you can commit to apply the day’s learnings to their lives. 

How many people committed to take a next step and fulfill your call to action? 

Measurement #3 - Implementation Test

Let’s go back to our sample Teaching Series. If our ultimate series goal was to see our audience be a positive influence in the lives of their neighbors and community we might decide that in the third week of our Teaching Series we are going to challenge our audience to commit to throwing a block party. 

As you might have noticed, as we progress through these measurements they tend become measured over a longer period of time. Measure 1 & 2 can be done immediately, but #3 will take a little longer to measure. Using our example it would only make sense to allow for some time between the delivery of the series and the implementation of a neighborhood bock party. In this case, we would wait for 2 to 3 weeks before we assessed the success or failure of implementation. 

Measurement #4 - Outcome Test

This is the longest term measurement as we are looking for impact over time. If it was our goal to see some change in our community because of our church, or even to see some change in our congregation because of our teaching…it’s going to take a little more time.

In most cases, it’s going to come in the form of stories.

Real life stories from real people in your community. It will be incredibly important to begin to create mechanisms where you can report and share those stories as they surface. 


This has been a very brief overview of these 4 measurement. The specific question and measurement tools will differ between church and between series. If you’d like help figuring out what those questions are let me know…I’d love to help. If you haven’t read “Create A Killer Series”, it will be a great place to start. 

Then make sure to set your own benchmarks. Thinking of measurement #2, how many people would make a commitment to apply the days learning? Each community will be different, so begin by measuring against yourself. 

Why All 4 Are Important

Measuring all four of these measurements will provide you with the most helpful information as it will help you identify your areas for improvement. For example, if you were challenging your church to have a positive impact on their neighbors and they loved the message, committed to have a block part but most people failed to implement?…you would know to take a closer look at why they failed to do so. Did we not give them the resources they needed? Was their an obstacle keeping them from planning their party? Answering these questions would help us to know that  it was or wasn’t the teaching that lacked. It was our follow through that could use some work. 

Measuring all four of these measurements will help you not only become a better preaching, it will help you build a stronger church. 

Measuring all 4 of these measurements will help you become a better preacher and help you build a stronger church.

Question of the day: What was the most impactful teaching series your church has delivered? 

How Do You Measure Preaching?

I don’t want to preach messages that educate people beyond their level of obedience.

- Mark Batterson

This adventure into communicating is going to require that we are being driven by the same metric. There are two options when measuring our communicating success.

We can either measure either by opportunity or by result.



When we measure by opportunity we define success as the number of opportunities we give our audience to respond. And while most churches may not admit it, they default to this type of measurement. It’s the “butt’s in seats” measurement. Granted it’s not wrong, “butt’s in seats” is valuable, but it’s arguably not valuable enough. We want to see our church grow and we want to impact more people this year than we did last, but measuring by opportunity leaves the responsibility to respond solely in the hands of the listener. And while ultimately application is something done by an individual, it is our job to hand them the baton.

As a communicator we can’t make a decision for our audience, they have to own it. They have to want the change in their life or nothing will come of it. You or I cannot make it for them.  The problem is that this opportunity measurement assumes something dangerous. It assumes that you and I are perfect. That any failure to respond is because our audience wasn’t listening or that “they just didn’t get it”.  I think we would agree that this wouldn’t be fair.

My oldest son is learning to ride his bike and as his dad it’s my responsibility to teach him. I love my son. I want him to have confidence. I want him to be proud of himself. I also want him to learn to ride a bike by himself. So we go out in the front yard and I show him his new bike.

The first thing he says is “where are the training wheels?”

“We didn’t get any for this bike,” I say,  “but let me show you how.”

I proceed to explain how he will need to pedal and that he will need to figure out his balance.  We ride out into the driveway and decide to give it a try.

So what happens if he falls over? Was he not listening to my instructions?  Was he ignoring me? Was he just not meant to ride a bike? Or was it that I could have done better at setting him up to succeed? Maybe I should have held on to the back of his seat to help him get the hang of balancing. Maybe I should have checked to make sure the seat was at the right height and that he understood how the brakes worked. Maybe I’m the one to blame.

I think we would all agree that as his instructor I need to take some ownership over his success. I’ve got to make sure that I did what was needed for him to take the next step himself. I can’t just throw a bunch of information at him and expect him to pick it all up. I’ve got to help him. I’ve got to run along side (even if it means I’m exhausted) and help him take the next step to riding by himself. Much of his initial success is directly related to my ability to teach him.


Measuring by results is unsettling.

We agree that the choice to respond to our message is in the hand of our audience. You, nor I, are responsible for the choices our audience makes…but we must do everything we can to make sure we set them up for success. Measuring our success based on the results of our message is going to cause us some discomfort. There will be times we aren’t completely sure why our message fell on deaf ears. But, if we agree that ultimately we want to see change in the lives of our audience then we must agree to do all we can to give them the opportunity to change and grow.  Life change is our end game, it’s why we do what we do.

If life change is our end game, we must do all we can to give people the opportunity to change and grow.

If measuring by results makes you nervous, that’s okay. It keeps us honest. The trick is making sure we measure what is valuable. Measuring the right things will help us get better and it will help us identify the specific areas we (and out team) may need to improve.

Measuring Success

Practically speaking, measuring results is done using 4 different measurements, which we will dive into during Part 2 of this series. Today we will focus on one simple measurement: commitment. 

In any powerful message there is a conclusion, a call to action, a possible next step. If you've set up your problem well and clearly unpacked what scripture has to say about the issue you naturally have been defining a next step. The first and most foundational measurement is asking your audience to commit to implementing this call to action. 

Many churches have decided to implement this using some form of a "connection card". This is a simple card, included in your program that allows people to sign up for more info, submit prayer requests as well as indicate their commitment to implement the message's call to action. 

This is a great place to start. Measure your audience's commitment to implement. 

Questions of the day: Do you feel tension between measuring opportunities vs measuring results?