Have you wondered why your church is not maturing and progressing like you may have envisioned it years ago? Most churches have been doing the same things over and over for a long time and never really think about how effective the ministry is. Most have not even taken the time to determine what should be assessed.
So, why should we assess the ministries of our churches? To start, we have biblical goals to reach. Consider what Ephesians 4 tells us about why Christ gave us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
“to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
When you think about your congregation, do the words “built-up” come to mind? How about “unity,” “knowledge,” or “mature”? These are the goals we should be seeking, and these should be the results of the ministries and programs in our churches. If your church is not producing in noticeable numbers of people who are tracking towards the “fullness of Christ,” then your ministries are ineffective. If you could snap your fingers and know which ministries in your church were weak, how long would it take you to change them? Would you let it go for a while, or would you take action immediately?
Until we first determine what our desired outcomes are for the ministries in our churches, we will not be able to measure their effectiveness. Let’s start with a necessary foundation.
Checkpoint #1: The Mission Filter
The mission of the Church of Jesus Christ is to make and mature disciples. Therefore, everything we do as a church should, in some reasonably direct way, be leading towards making and maturing disciples of Christ. If it takes a flowchart of more than a couple steps to show the connection between anything you’re currently doing and someone hearing the Gospel, you’re probably off mission and ineffective.
Checkpoint #2: The Discipleship Pathway Filter
I gave you a little wiggle room in #1 above. The “couple steps” I mentioned between the ministry and the Gospel are allowed inside of your Discipleship Pathway. That is the heart of a healthy, effective church. Everything we do lives inside the Discipleship Pathway and has a purpose.
Every ministry and program in your church should fit nicely inside one of just a few steps from milk to meat in the life of a believer. Each of those ministries should be accomplishing a purpose in itself, though. Take, for example, your elementary school backpack “ministry” that packs meals and snacks for disadvantaged kids to take home from school on Friday to provide weekend food. Awesome thing to do! This ministry would live in the “Serving” stage of a Discipleship Pathway. It would most likely have an evangelistic focus wherein along with the food in the backpack, there would also be a prayer note or short weekend sized devotional for the kids and families. If the only thing in the bag is food, then it’s not a ministry that could lead a child or a family to a possible decision for Christ (remember the mission?). It’s a missing step that is necessary for it to be an effective ministry.
Checkpoint #3: The Vision Filter
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18
Vision unstated will be vision unreached. Our final point of assessment for our ministries is if they are moving us forward in achieving the vision God has revealed for our church. Think of the difference between an exercise bike in your home and a sweet 10-speed out on the open road. The vision of the church is the chain that links the back wheel to the effort and energy coming in through the cranks. The exercise bike benefits the one in action on it just like the 10-speed does, but the 10-speed also propels the rider forward towards a destination. That destination is our church’s vision, and the ministries of the church are the action turning the cranks. If we’re not assessing the forward motion and direction, then we’re not getting to the destination anytime soon.
Scott Ball is the Vice President and a Lead Guide with The Malphurs Group. He lives in East Tennessee with his wife and two children. (Email Scott).
A.J. Mathieu is the President of the Malphurs Group. He is passionate about helping churches thrive and travels internationally to teach and train pastors to lead healthy disciple-making churches. A.J. lives in the Ft. Worth, Texas area, enjoys the outdoors, and loves spending time with his wife and two sons. Click here to email A.J.