May 29, 2017—Assessment and evaluation are critical practices for any organization. Yet, many congregations do a poor job of assessing and evaluating the multiple and often complex facets of congregational vitality. There are several reasons for this: a lack of time on the part of leaders, a lack of resources, and a lack of expertise are some. Regardless, failing to take time to periodically, and routinely, assess the state of affairs is a liability for any organization, including congregations. Evaluative practices provide a corrective to the liability of self-referencing: believing we’re doing a great job just because we say we are.
A church’s ministries will be shaped by several factors: its history, denominational relations, size, location, predominant social class, identity, life stage, and leadership, for example. Below are essential congregational program and development areas common to most churches. Use this as a quick check-up with your staff and church leadership. Be honest, remember that critique is not criticism. Evaluation and assessment is a matter of integrity: Are we living up to our vision? Are we fulfilling our mission? Are we doing the best we can toward what we are called to do and be?
For each item grade yourself (A = Excellent, B = Good, C = Fair, D = Needs improvement, F = Fail) on (1) Capacity and (2) Effectiveness.
1. Leadership Development
- Continuing education for professional and paid staff
- Calling out and development of lay leadership for organizational and program ministries
- Calling out and development of future leadership
2. Pastoral Care Ministries
- Ministries related to the spiritual care of individual congregational members
- Ministries related to the spiritual care of the larger community
- Ministries related to the spiritual care of families and their members
3. Educational Ministries
- Engaging in discipleship of congregational members
- Teaching the Bible, its content and meaning
- Training the church educators and teachers
- Providing spiritual growth opportunities and programs for church members and potential members
- Providing resources for all church educational ministries
- Planning, supervision, and administration of church educational programs
4. Music Ministries
- Engaging the congregation in participating in the spiritual dimensions of music
- Enhancing, leading, and educating the congregation in corporate and individual worship
- Providing spiritual growth opportunities and programs for church members and potential members through music
5. Outreach Ministries
- Reaching and teaching those outside of the church community
- Proclaiming the Biblical message of Christ and the Church through
- Providing the presence of Christ in the community and world
6. Missions and Ministries
- Leading the congregation to engage in missions endeavors in the community and world
- Teaching and educating the congregation in denominational missions; its theology, practices, and opportunities
- Training congregational members and groups in missions and ministries endeavors
- Providing spiritual growth opportunities and programs for church members and potential members through missions and ministries endeavors
7. Congregational Development
- Working to ensure congregational health
- Ensuring financial health and stewardship development
- Providing means for the congregation’s organizational effectiveness
- Helping ensure sound and effective administration of the congregational resources
- Helping ensure the viability and relevance of the congregation as a local expression of the Body of Christ.
By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning and Director of Online Education, adapted from A Christian Educator’s Book of Lists by Israel Galindo (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2013).