Moneyball Your Church

In Moneyball we learn that the Oakland A’s General Manager, Billy Beane, won’t watch his team’s games. The movie makes it seem like it’s just because he’s afraid he’ll jinx the team. Made for a good plot line, but it’s not the whole story. In the book Moneyball we learn that Beane doesn’t watch his team because he’s afraid it will taint his think

ing. If he sees a player crush a 480 foot home run it would be easy to overestimate his ability and become emotionally attached to him as a player. The guy is hitting .220, he can’t field his position, but you just can’t stop thinking about that home run. So Billy Beane doesn’t watch the games, instead he goes purely on statistics which are emotionless and tend not to lie.

I think one of the difficulties of leading a church is that it’s easy for our thinking to become tainted.

  • You have a great story of a person who was really far from God coming to God, so you assume (and talk like) your church is doing a great job of reaching lost people. But the reality is that it’s one of the very few stories you have and your church reaches almost no lost people.
  • You have a couple people complain that they’re “not getting fed at this church” so you feel bad and try to change your preaching. But the reality is that 95% of the people are very happy with your sermons and are feeling challenged and inspired.
  • Someone emphatically tells you that they’re leaving your church because “No one cares about each other here, no one talks to each other,” so you start figuring out how to change your structure. But the reality is that this person has extremely low relational intelligence and will leave their next church making the same complaint.

So how do you Moneyball your church? How do you have a more accurate and honest evaluation? It’s not easy with church.

  • One thing that helps is just to have an awareness of this tendency to blow one example out of proportion. In our staff meetings I’ll often respond to a story someone tells with, “That is interesting, but it’s just one example of that. It doesn’t necessarily prove anything. How can we determine if that’s widespread, or if this is just an exception?”
  • Another thing we do is an annual survey to try to get real hard data to evaluate, because statistics are emotionless and tend not to lie.

What could you do to take a more moneyball approach to your church?