“A renewed church requires Christian leaders who are characterized by honest and objective evaluations of the impact they are making.” states David Kinnamon, President of Barna, in The State of Your Church. What kind of evaluation process does your church have in place for every ministry, every leader, and the church’s vision? How do you measure the effectiveness of each? To take it a step further, how are you evaluating the impact of each? How are people being transformed? How is your community (the congregation and the neighborhood you serve) being transformed? How honest are those evaluations? How objective are those evaluations?
In a recent webinar, the subject of accountability came up. While there is always some unpacking to do when I broach this subject, there was substantially more pushback and negativity towards this word in this group. Later in the follow up coaching with the teams from this webinar, we spent more time unpacking accountability. As I commonly discover, the resistance to accountability is seated in fear. There is a fear that if congregants (in particular “volunteers”) were to be held accountable for doing what is expected or what they had committed to do, people would leave. In other words, we would rather keep our expectations low with no accountability likely resulting in ineffective or subpar ministries with a greater number of disengaged congregations. What is misunderstood is that when we raise the expectations and practice accountable leadership, the church has more effective and impactful ministries with engaged, spiritually mature leaders. While a church shifting to this kind of culture may initially have fewer leaders, long-term the church will be healthier and more vital with more leaders who are younger and more diverse.
How are church’s goals set every year? What are they based on? Often leaders sit in a room and base goals on whims and dreams because they have not had training on strategic planning. Goals for the church should be based on the next faithful steps for the church to live into its vision. Then the objectives (ministries, programs, events) are planned based on the goals. The budget needs to align to the objectives. The assets need to be leveraged for the overall strategic plan. All ministries, events, and programs (which should already align with mission, vision, goals, and objectives) need to clearly define the purpose and desired outcome and then evaluate afterwards based on those criteria. So often all of these pieces of the ministry are disjointed with no evaluation, let alone questioning their impact. We often repeat the same ministries year after year because “we’ve always done it that way.”
How are ministry team leaders, staff, and clergy evaluated in your church? Are they evaluated on their effectiveness in serving and leading the church in its disciple-making mission, living into the vision, and accomplishing the goals? Or are they evaluated on how well they cater to the desires and preferences and care for the congregation? What criteria is used for raises of paid staff? Are bonuses paid in lieu of raises or in addition to raises when goals are met or exceeded? How are these leaders evaluated in how their leadership is equipping and deploying congregants in ministry and leadership? How are these leaders evaluated on how they are impacting the community and equipping other leaders to impact the community?
Why is all the evaluation important? First, it is a question of stewardship. We need to be faithful in how we steward all the resources the church has been blessed to receive. Second, without evaluation the church has no idea if the ministries are effective. Third and most important, as disciples and as leaders of the church, we are accountable to Christ for leading the church in its disciple-making purpose to transform the world. Friends, the leaders are accountable to Christ for investing and leveraging the resources for the greatest Kingdom impact!
For assistance in evaluating your church’s vitality, vision, and community connection, check out the Church Vitality Dashboard.