Karl Vaters: 8 Non-Numerical Ways to Assess the Health of a Church

There are healthy churches of all sizes.

In recent years there’s been a renewed emphasis on defining health numerically. But that’s not the only way to measure church health and effectiveness.

In my previous article, Effective Small Church Metrics: Why Average Results Aren’t Typical Results, we saw that statistics, surveys and comparative metrics are not as helpful in assessing small church health as they are in assessing big church health.

So, what’s a small church to do?

Today, we’ll take a look at 8 helpful ways to assess the health and effectiveness of a church without using numbers.

1. Ask “What Should We Be Doing And How Well Are We Doing It?”

Jesus gave us the Great Commandment and Great Commission. That is the mission of every church. But the way one church is called to do that is going to be different than the way another church is called to do that.

Every leader of every church needs to know how their church is fulfilling the Great Commandment and Great Commission within their context.

We must constantly assess the health and effectiveness of the congregation based on the following questions: Are we a worshipping church? A loving church? An evangelistic church? A compassionate church? A discipling church?

But, without a numerical component, how do we assess how well we’re doing those things? That’s what points 2-7 address.

2. Talk To The People In The Church

In the 1980s, Ed Koch, the mayor of New York City, was famous for walking through the streets of Manhattan, asking everyday citizens “how am I doing?”

As you can imagine, he didn’t always hear the answers he wanted, but the fact that he kept asking the question is an important lesson for all leaders.

“How are we doing?” should be our constant attitude. We need to ask the questions and be open to honest answers.

3. Hear From People Outside The Church

There’s a limit to what we can learn about the health and effectiveness of a church by talking amongst ourselves. We need an honest assessment of how our church looks from the outside looking in.

When friends and neighbors visit, we need to provide a way for them to give their feedback. Some churches ask unchurched friends to visit a Sunday service so they can tell us what they see, feel and experience from their perspective.

If you’re afraid to hear what outsiders have to say, it’s a big red flag that you know the church isn’t healthy, you’re just not ready to admit it. Or perhaps it’s to painful to hear what you already know to be true.

4. Compare Your Demographics To The Neighborhood’s Demographics

Churches typically look like their neighborhood in one of two ways:

Unhealthy churches tend to look like their neighborhood used to look – either when the church was founded, or during the last strong pastorate. They’re freeze-dried in place, repeating patterns that no longer work. And they’ve lost the ability to speak to the people around them today.

Healthy churches look like the neighborhood looks today – with a similar demographic blend of ages, ethnicities and so on. They haven’t changed their core message or their values, but they’ve learned how to communicate them in a way their current neighborhood can hear and understand.

5. Does Your Bulletin Have A Mix Of Inward-Focused And Outward-Focused Events?

Unhealthy churches are concerned with their own events and comfort – and the bulletin will reflect that.

Healthy churches have a good blend of events to strengthen the current congregation (worship, discipleship, fellowship) and events that reach out (ministry teams, evangelism, compassion ministry).

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Source: Christianity Today