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My wife and I often visit our friends in Breckenridge, Colorado. We love the beauty of the mountains and enjoy our friends immensely. Their 8-year old son, Nathan, is a terrific source of entertainment. During a recent dinner conversation, Nathan informed us about his Little League baseball season. He rattled off the scores of his team’s last few games. His parents quickly stopped him, interjecting that the league and coaches don’t actually keep track of scores.
Nathan retorted, “We all keep score anyway. We always keep score.”
I smiled, thinking back to my own youth baseball experience when I did the exact same thing. Sure there were no scoreboards, but every single kid on the diamond knew the score.  Why? Because we want to know how we’re doing. It’s more than just winning and losing. We want a tangible measure of our performance. Are we succeeding? Are we catching up? How bad is it? Keeping score answers those questions.
In working with the poor, many times it’s easy to justify not keeping score. After all, we’re trying to help people. Isn’t that enough? I’m not sure it is. I think we need to keep score. It’s not about knowing if we’re winning. Even if the score illuminates we are losing, at least we have a gauge of how we’re doing.
It is particularly challenging to measure spiritual impact. At HOPE, it is straightforward to track financial metrics. We measure repayment rates, savings balances, client retention and a slew of other data points. It is much more challenging to gauge whether our work impacts the spiritual climate of the communities and families we serve. It’s hard and it’s also controversial to suggest we can measure spiritual impact when we know that only God sees the heart.

This month, a conference with a bold title—Spiritual Metrics—is gathering to discuss these issues. I believe it is possible and critical that we measure our spiritual impact. While we can only “see in a mirror dimly,” dimly is better than not at all.
We aren’t perfect in our measurement, but at least we know how many clients have been given a copy of God’s word, how consistently our staff gathers for devotions, and how many churches we actively partner with. It takes creativity, but per the old management axiom, what gets measured gets done. We need to keep score to remain accountable to what we are uniquely positioned to do as Christian organizations. Just like Nathan’s baseball team, we need to keep score.