Are The Traditional Membership Questions Outputs?

Last week I thumbed through the sample book for the new Presbyterian Confirmation curriculum. It’s built around the traditional membership questions both youth and adults answer when they profess faith and join the church:

  • Trusting in the gracious mercy of God, do you turn from the ways of sin and renounce evil and its power in the world?
  • Who is your Lord and Savior?
  • Will you be Christ’s faithful disciple obeying his word and showing his love?
  • Will you devote yourself to the church’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers?

I like this approach. I’m about to lead my third Confirmation retreat structured around the first three of these questions. I think they are the appropriate focus for Confirmation.

I also spent some time last week with the new “Cultivated Ministry” field guide produced by a team of NEXT Church leaders. It’s a simple tool for thinking about assessment in terms that are broader than budgets and worship attendance. It makes a clear distinction between outputs, the programs we run and the people who participate in them, and outcomes, the impact that participation has on peoples’ lives. It is a critical distinction.

My mind is mashing these two things together.

Maybe the traditional membership questions are outputs. Maybe we can measure the impact of youth group and worship and Confirmation by the measurable ways in which the people who come to those things renounce evil, obey Christ’s word, show his love, and devote themselves to the breaking of bread and the prayers.