Sphere of Influence
At a Pastors seminar, I held up two rolls of pennies and I old nickel. I asked the group which they would rather possess. Like most of us the group chose to embrace the 100 pennies. It was later that I explained the nickel was a 1930s (VF condition) nickel which had been purchased at a coin shop for $5.00. Value is not always demonstrated by quantity, sometimes it is better measured by quality or potential for value.
I had been a small church Pastor for about 3 years when I was introduced to the “Sphere of Influence” concept. In essence this model measures ministry effectiveness by the amount of influence you have in a community. Rather than looking at attendance as a measure of growth, you measure attendance in comparison to potential.
Here’s a simple formula
Target area – x number of people
Attendance – y number of people
Divide target area by attendance = Sphere of Influence
When I view my church in terms of my target area, I focus on the influence in my community. In my situation I am surrounded by towns of 200 and our target area is 2000 people in our community. Currently we average 100-120 people. That means that each week, I speak to 5-6% of my community. In my previous ministry I was part of a multi staff church averaging 400 in a community of 80,000. We only reached .05% (not even 1%) of our community. We were one of the larger churches in the area and would be considered very successful in terms of “church”, but in reality I have far more impact in our rural area than I did in a city area.
When viewing attendance with this formula, it is actually possible for a ministry to be healthy while remaining numerically stagnant. If I am in a declining rural area, but my church attendance is remaining stable, that becomes a source of encouragement rather than frustration.
As an example
2000 2005 2005
Target area – 2000 Target area – 1500 Target area – 1500
Attendance – 100 Attendance – 100 Attendance – 75
Influence – 5% Influence – 6.7% Influence – 5%
I would like to encourage you to rethink the ways that you view numbers in small church ministries. The ability to “bloom where you are planted” is essential to a healthy small church ministry.