Activity is not necessarily accomplishment! It’s easy to be very busy, especially in church life, yet not be moving forward to great fruitfulness and kingdom productivity. Therefore, it is essential that we stop regularly for periods of review and evaluation. How are things going? Really? What’s going well? What’s not going well?
One common tool for evaluation is the SWOT analysis. Get your key team of leaders together and draw a quadrant on a white board with the words “Strengths”, “Weaknesses”, “Opportunities” and “Threats” written on it. Then brain storm together and create a long list under each category. At this stage don’t evaluate the comments, just gather as many as possible.
Another idea is to use a list of key church health factors that present a holistic approach to ministry, such as your list of “core values”, Rick Warren’s “five purposes” of the church (in his book The Purpose Driven Church), Christian Swartz’s “eight characteristics” (from his book Natural Church Development) or “seven strategic shifts” (from my book Transforming Your Church). Honestly evaluate your church in each area with a rating of somewhere between 1 and 10, 1 being “very poor” and 10 being “outstanding”. Doing this in a group setting is best and the scores can be then tallied and then averaged. Use your one or two lowest scores as points of discussion and then strategise or plan how you can lift the effectiveness of these areas in the next period of time.
Can I say that it takes a really secure and strong leader to be open to criticism and to be willing to acknowledge weaknesses without reacting or feeling threatened. Be a big person by being wise enough to receive feedback with a good attitude (Prov.9:8-9). After all, everyone else knows our weaknesses (personal and church), so the sooner we face them, acknowledge them and deal with them, the better off we’ll all be! Create a culture that is always seeking to improve and to learn do things better.
I believe each church should have a good annual review of each of its ministries, as well as its overall progress. This becomes even more effective and easier to do if there are periodic reviews during the year (e.g. quarterly).