By Peter Meier | May 15, 2017
Every child learns a valuable lesson early in life – Stop! Look! Listen! Before you cross the street. Following that procedure can save a life.
It can save your church or church plant too. Of course, only Jesus saves. But you know what I mean.
“Stop – Look – Listen” is an evaluation process. For many in the church, evaluation can be a scary word. Many try to avoid it.
Wise leaders embrace it.
Evaluation and Assessment are necessary for the health and growth of churches of all ages. It’s important to stop – look – and listen to what’s going on for the same reasons you look both ways before crossing the street. You stop to evaluate where you are, assess where you are headed, identify any dangers coming your way, and then proceed with confidence.
For the 80% of North American churches who are in survival or status quo mode, it is very possible that leaders have avoided meaningful evaluation of their relationships, programs, and mission efforts. They’ve been doing what was successful in the past. Or what has become comfortable. They may be frustrated that they don’t see the results they’d like to see, but without serious evaluation of every aspect of ministry, they will continue to merely survive or decline.
Growing churches and Multiplying churches see the need for continual evaluation to identify areas where God is at work, and to note areas where change or innovation is needed. They continually seek to align ministry and mission with the Great Commission.
Three Keys to Effective Evaluation
- Stop – Assess where you are currently. What’s working? What’s not?
- Look – Envision what you believe needs to be changed or improved. What should we do differently?
- Listen – Set goals and specific actions you need to take to make these changes a reality. What’s next? What will I do and by when? What resources are needed? Who do I need to help me?
Mission leaders need to ask these questions in two areas – in their ministry and their own behaviors. One simple and helpful tool is the Stop – Keep – Start (SKS) process. By asking three simple questions of those on your team, you can open the door to some great feedback for yourself as a mission leader, and for your work in God’s Harvest Field.
- What should I stop doing?
- What should I keep doing?
- What should I start doing?
Evaluation is the key to aligning programs and events with the mission of God.
- What is the missional (Great Commission) purpose of the activity or program?
- How does this program or activity assist in disciplemaking?
- What is a better way (or the best way) to achieve missional goals with this activity?
How often do you evaluate your ministry’s programs and activities? Events are best evaluated immediately. Ask:
- What went well?
- What went better than expected?
- What could have gone better?
- Did we accomplish our goal (How do we know)?
- Should we do it again? If so, what must we add or change? When should planning begin? By who?
Ministries can be evaluated on a quarterly basis. Overall church health should be evaluated at least once a year. This might be done as part of a staff or leadership team retreat. Ask:
- What lessons have we learned in the past three/six months?
- Use the SKS process
- What 2 or 3 areas need strategic focus immediately? In the next three months? Six months?
- Assess – Envision – Set goals and a timeline.
How are you currently evaluating your:
- Worship services
- Outreach and Evangelism
- Paid and Volunteer staff
- Overall church health?
In his final teaching with his disciples in the upper room, Jesus said, I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful (John 15:1-2).
If the Father evaluates and takes action so that the branches bear more fruit, shouldn’t we do the same with ourselves, with our churches and ministries?
Questions for Discussion
1. What are the benefits of regular evaluation for yourself? For your ministry/local congregation?
2. How are you practicing “Stop – Look – Listen” for your own personal growth? For your church’s health? If you have not adopted a system of evaluation, when will you begin?
3. How can you tell when your church is producing good fruit? Bad/no fruit? Identify concrete markers which you could apply in your context.
4. What would prevent you from regular evaluation? How does regular planning lead to planning and goal setting?
Resources You Can Use
Growing New Churches is a two-day intensive training offered by the Center. It is designed to equip church planters, pastors, and mission leaders to understand and lead the spiritual and numerical growth of a newly planted church (years 2-5) or replant. The course focuses on systems development, evaluation, and goal-setting to facilitate preparation of a context-specific implementation plan.
Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations. Ed Stetzer and Thom Rainer describe the practices of transformational churches based on their research.
Six Steps to an Effective Church Staff Review. Questions and process for effective peer reviews.
20 Great Questions to Evaluate a Church or Ministry Event. Will Mancini lists 20 questions to be used by staff to evaluate events or projects.
Church Health Assessment Tool. Sample questions to evaluate church health, and to highlight areas for improvement.
Natural Church Development is designed to evaluate church health with the goal of seeing healthy churches plant new churches.
12 Metrics for Church Assessment. Churches measure many things. In this podcase Thom Rainer discusses what churches should measure.
Mission Moments is the e-newsletter sent by the Center for U.S. Missions to bring information and encouragement to all who desire to share God's great love in Jesus Christ with others. Permission is given to copy this article for distribution within your congregation or organization. Please credit the author and the Center for United States Missions. For more information contact the Center at (952)-221-0362, or visit our website: www.c4usm.org
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