Evaluating Effectiveness in Your Church Ministries

Winston Churchill was an amazing leader, diplomat, and politician. One of the most notable parts of his legacy, however, is his collection of inspiring, and often humorous, quotations.

For example, Lady Astor, the first woman Parliament member, told him at a weekend house party, “Winston, if I were married to you I’d put poison in your coffee.” He quickly replied, “Nancy, if I were married to you I’d drink it.”

One of my favorite Churchill quotations is, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Ironically, he may not have said it… but, regardless, I couldn’t agree more, especially when it comes to evaluating our effectiveness in ministry.

Do we need a scorecard?

Pastors and church leaders may be able to intricately explain their discipleship strategy in sixty seconds flat, but we need more information than just a description of what it is. The best question to ask is not, “What is your strategy?” but rather, “Is your strategy working?” This leads to the question of whether or not we need to have a “scorecard” in ministry.

Do we really need to count how many people came, raised their hands, or gave? I would say, “Yes,” with the caveat that such a scorecard isn’t everything. You can be a biblically faithful church, doing everything God tells you to do, and shrink, often due to external factors such as, for example, a surrounding community in decline.

Shrinking shouldn’t be our desire, however. We want to see God’s Kingdom grow and we want to do all we can to work with Him to make that happen. A scorecard can be an effective tool in that process.

What should be on our scorecard?

If we agree with Churchill and believe we should examine the results of our strategy, the question becomes exactly what will measure to determine our ministry effectiveness. Answering that question is perhaps the biggest challenge of all.

I think there is a two-fold answer to this question. There are certain data that are quantitative and easy to assess each week. These would include areas like conversions, attendance, baptisms, etc. They can be compiled on a dashboard of sorts, and can give a pastor a quick snapshot of overall church health. While these obviously matter in assessing the overall picture of a church, they are not the only things that matter.

In addition to this quick dashboard, we should also be measuring growth in areas like discipleship, missional living, and participating in a small community.

Having a lot of converts is great, but are they changed? Are they living as new believers, serving within and outside the church, and sharing with others about Christ? If not, then ultimately, we’re not completing the task. That’s why these more in-depth areas need to be on the scorecard as well.

How do we measure the subjective areas?

But if we want to evaluate these types of issues, how can we do that accurately? In the churches where I’ve been involved, we use a spiritual formation assessment tool. We have used such tools for “dashboard categories” (e.g., small group involvement, attendance, giving), this measures issues in much bigger categories (e.g., community involvement, serving within the church, personal devotions). Because it’s a regular measurement, each individual can quickly go in and see how he or she is doing compared to last year, and it can also roll up congregationally so that we can have an eye on the progress we’re making in every area of our church’s life.

The data is both self-reported, as be presented by various church leaders. For example, our small groups are encouraged to participate in a corporate mission project once a month. We ask our leaders to regularly communicate to us to let us know what’s going on with their ongoing ministry and mission. In this way, if we assess our congregation’s community involvement, for example, at 50 percent, we set a goal of 60 percent for the next year, and we actually have a way of tracking and assessing that goal.

There are several different tools you can use to lead your church through this type of assessment. At LifeWay Research, we have developed the Transformation Church Assessment Tool, which helps churches analyze how well they are doing in seven factors that research indicated were part of healthy churches. We also have the Transformational Discipleship Assessment, based on extensive research that discovered eight attributes that consistently show up in the life of maturing believers.

At the end of the day, a scorecard is just that. It’s a simple tool to help us best live out the mission that has been entrusted to us. Regardless of the results that are presented, we need to remember another Churchill quote, “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing great or small, large or petty—never give in . . .”

Our mission is too great to settle for anything less.

>> Read more from Ed.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Less Can Be More: How Ruthless Calendaring Will Make Your Work More Productive

Here are two words that you do not expect to read in a single phrase: “ruthless” and “calendaring.” But, I hope that by the end of this post, I will have made them make sense together for 2014.

Recently, I spent an hour with the managers and publishing team leaders in my area to discuss our schedules. By virtue of working in a company, meetings are necessary. At least that’s what we think most of the time. What I have found is that some of our meetings have a less than necessary reason for existence. In order to order my life better, here is some major planning for 2014. Here’s is why I plan to do it and what I hope to accomplish.

1. Curb the pop-in-the-office meetings. I am incredibly guilty of this behavior and it causes everyone in our company to have permission to do the same. I hope to stop just popping into other offices unannounced. My leaders are gracious and don’t act as if they mind it. But I think it makes for too many spur-of-the-moment decisions and just eats up time. A better schedule will help us be more intentional with our conversations.

2. Establish the major conversations. In my calendaring for the next year, I am establishing the major conversations that will take place each week and/or month with others. For my core leadership, we will meet each week. For a group of my peers where I lead a “matrix” meeting across our adult ministry work, we will meet once a month. Without a doubt, there will be emergencies that arise that will require a meeting, but a pre-planned conversation will help us know when the conversations can be most fruitful.

3. Schedule conversations. A great part of leadership is relationship. I don’t want my relationships with our team to feel contrived but I know that the vast majority of our interactions simply revolve around our assigned work. The only way for me to spend any personal time where we talk about life, faith, family, and the things we enjoy is to schedule those conversations. It will take the form of walking to a coffee shop, going to lunch, or a planned break from the up-tempo pace of our work life.

4. Show patience. When it comes to work, I can be a hard-charging personality. I don’t know that I have this natural inclination or if it is a learned behavior. I guess it does not matter… it is who I very likely am at work. By holding to my scheduled meetings and conversations, it will help me practice patience. Rather than giving in to the impulse to rush around and force conversations and decisions, I hope that my calendaring will allow me to settle down. At least a little bit.

5. Establish a reason for every meeting. My coworkers know that I hate two things about meetings: when they are long and when we leave without a reason for having met. By doing this planning ahead of time, I hope to also establish a reason for every meeting to occur. It means that each meeting will not only a reason but also a plan for discussion and/or delegation.

6. Own your calendar by refusing to let others own it. We all work off of Google Calendar where others can search for an open spot on your schedule and send an invitation. I’ve decided that just because I have “white space” does not give others permission to own it. It is okay to say “no” to a meeting or delay it to another time.

I will likely have a mixture of success and failure in all of these areas. I’ll let you know how it goes along the way.

So… what are you doing to make this year more productive in your work?

Read more from Philip here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Nation

Philip Nation

serve as the Director of Advancement and Global Impact Churches with the Baptist World Alliance and frequently speak at churches and conferences. I earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, I was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, I’ve served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. My latest published work is the video-based Bible study Pursuing Holiness: Applications from James. In 2016, I published Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out with Moody Publishers. I’ve coauthored two other books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. I was also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, I have written the small-group studies Storm Shelter: Psalms of God’s Embrace, Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.