EVALUATING THE SMALL CHURCH 4

I have been involved in ministry in a variety of ways for more years than I want to count. That means, among other things, that I have been involved with committees, working groups and studies of various kinds, most of which ended up producing some sort of report with recommendations and suggestions. To my great frustration, these reports have ended up collecting dust somewhere. So, I have learned to discover who is going to do what when with the results of a study before I get involved with it.

That applies to the evaluation process that we have been looking at these last few days. Unless there is a willingness to actually use the results of the ministry evaluation to help the church develop, there is no point in wasting the time and effort to do the evaluation. The evaluation process described here is designed to give the congregation ideas and directions for a healthier church with better ministry.

When this evaluation process is finished, the church will have a clear picture of its ministry. It will not only know what it is doing is each of the functional areas but also how well it is doing in that area. With these results, the church can easily discover its direction.

Take the function where the average score is the lowest. This is the weakest area of the church’s ministry. This is the area that needs immediate attention and work. I know that there are schools of thought that suggest we strengthen our strengths and move away from our weak areas but that doesn’t apply to this analysis of the church functions.

The weakest area of the four functions in the congregation can be viewed as a flat tire on a car. The other three might be brand new, well inflated, properly mounted and balanced–but they cannot function properly as long as there is a flat. Even with three good tired, fixing the flat is the priority.

So, beginning with the weakest function, the church looks not just at what is being done but what could be done, what could be strengthened, and even what no longer helps the church do its ministry effectively. Many congregations waste a lot of time and energy trying to keep things going that once were effective and important but which are now a waste of time and energy.

Sometimes, the congregation can ask the leadership to come up with some ideas and suggestions. As long as the leadership spends time consulting with the congregation, letting them see the work in progress, this works. If the committee simply meets privately and presents a finished plan for approval, it will likely be rejected because people were not consulted.

Planning for change in the functional area needs to think in terms of 1 to 2 years–quick fixes tend not to have much in the way of valuable long-term results. The weakness in the function didn’t originate overnight and won’t go away overnight.

Planning should also be done with the awareness that not everything suggested will work–failure is always a possibility. It is not a problem to try something and have is fail to do what was planned or needed. Learn from the failure and try something else.

As one functional area is improved, it will have an effect on the others–generally positive but occasionally negative. For that reason, once the congregation feels the functional area has improved, it is likely wise to do another ministry review, since everything will likely have changed and the old results are no longer valid. If the ministry review process is done every couple of years, that shouldn’t be a major problem.

I realize that this is a somewhat brief and perhaps confusing description of the whole process. I have found it to work well for small churches and really isn’t overly complicated. However, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, I am available for further discussion with churches and individuals who are interested–just contact me through the comments section if you don’t already know my contact information.

May the peace of God be with you.

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