Church Assessment - The First Step Toward Church Health
A church assessment is a necessary first step towards understanding the needs of your church and gaining an objective view of the current health and vitality of your church body. Without the discipline to gather objective information about your church climate, you can end up miles down an errant rabbit trail. Periodic church evaluation is crucial to informed decision-making and effective leadership. Don't think of this type of appraisal as an additional "project" to take on - you'll feel overwhelmed. Instead, think of a church assessment as a routine "check-up" to ensure that you're healthy and aware of any potential issues. A simple check-up will give you the awareness to be "proactive" instead of "reactive" in your church leadership responsibilities.
Church Assessment - Importance and Timing
A church assessment is a listening tool and "listening well" is a critical aspect of effective leadership. Just as importantly,
church members will feel heard, understood, and valued. Therefore, a church assessment should be considered at the following times:
During periods of change such as:
- › Transition in church leadership
- › Shift in demographics of the church body
- › Change in ministry focus of the church
- › Restructuring of staff/program framework
During periods of new developments such as:
- › In preparation for a large project like a capital campaign
- › Increasing ministry offerings or programs
- › Expanding or relocating to another facility
During periods of strategic planning such as:
- › Identifying the priorities/goals for the coming year
- › Distinguishing the unique strengths of your church to be maximized
- › Categorizing the needs of your unique church community
- › Budgeting for the future
Click to download our Free Guide to Church Assessment.
Life moves fast in the 21st century and change is a constant factor. We recommend that you conduct a church assessment every 12-18 months to stay on top of the changes in the life of your church community. We recommend you allow plenty of time to gather as much feedback as possible. Allowing for a survey window of 30-60 days is best, followed by a series of leadership team meetings to discuss the findings and results, identify the priority issues, and make adjustments for the future. In some cases, the use of an objective, third-party facilitator can be helpful in this process.
Church Assessment - A Tool for Leadership and Membership
A church assessment is a powerful tool for both leaders and members. The minimum participation goal should be 20% of the adult
church body, with the ideal participation being in the 25%-35% range. Each participant in the process needs to do his or her own
church appraisal work separate from the "group think" of the committee discussion. The use of an anonymous church assessment
tool is best. The reported findings from the individual church surveys should be compiled and distributed to the church review
committee and then discussed together.
When the committee convenes, the discussion of the results should focus on:
- › Strengths and weaknesses discovered
- › Areas of agreement and disagreement identified
- › Disparity between how leaders and congregation members rated the church
- › Underlying reasons for any disagreements unearthed
- › Discuss together an overall summary of the three strengths and three areas of concern
In considering the use of a church assessment, discuss the following questions together with your elder board and/or leadership team:
- › Do we have a current and accurate baseline of where we are for the purpose setting goals and objectives for the future?
- › Is listening (openness to feedback) something we genuinely value as part of our leadership model?
- › What benefits could we foresee in conducting a church appraisal?
- › What issues/fears/problems cause us hesitation in considering the use of a church appraisal tool?
- › If we could take advantage of the ability to add our own custom questions to the church assessment, what would we ask?
- › Based on our current calendar, when would be a strategic timeframe to conduct a church review?
Church Assessment - Where to Start
A powerful church assessment which has been used by hundreds of churches across America is the Church Health Assessment Tool (CHAT)
from Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTi). The CHAT survey questions are based on the "Ten Traits of a Healthy Church" from the
best selling book, Becoming a Healthy Church (Dr. Stephen A. Macchia, Baker Books, 1999/2006).
The Church Health Assessment Tool (CHAT) offers the following unique combination of benefits:
- › Web-driven
- › Anonymous
- › Responses of leadership and congregation dynamically compared
- › Convenient and cost effective
- › No tabulation work required
- › Easy-to-read report delivered to your email inbox
- › Follow up coaching is available, but not required
Executive Vice President
Christianity Today International, IL
"Steve Macchia is at it again. His burning passion to see churches achieve maximum health has taken the next step. CHAT (Church Health Assessment Tool) provides churches with an easy-to-use look at themselves that could move many congregations toward the health that Steve (and, more importantly, the Spirit) envisions."
New Way Ministries, CO
"Without a doubt, one of the greatest needs of a large number of churches in America is to become more healthy. Leadership Transformations' new CHAT survey should be a great help to all who use it. It is a joy to recommend it to you!"
The Mission America Coalition, CA
Steven A. Macchia
Founder and President