During this blog post series, I am trying to help you assess your church by providing ten questions to evaluate your church’s approach to each of the purposes of the church: worship, evangelism, discipleship, ministry, prayer, and fellowship. In addition, I ask about your church’s biblical foundation and Great Commission commitment. Some of the questions may surprise you, but I hope they will challenge you. Today’s questions focus on your church’s ministry and service.
- Does your church have a person responsible for pastoral care in each small group? Small groups are the place where life-on-life Christian living occurs; thus, that’s likely where members will learn about each other’s life needs. If no one is responsible for pastoral care in the group, everybody will assume somebody else is doing it.
- Do members know how to connect with ministry caregivers? If I have a need that necessitates ministry, would I know whom to contact to share my need? Churches that do ministry well make it easy for members to connect with caregivers. In a time of need, nobody has to “figure out” how to connect with the right person.
- Have you lost members because they fell through the cracks when facing a crisis? No church catches every need, but losses due to bad processes and unclear structures ought to cause leaders to evaluate the system in place. A church that catches only some of the needs of the congregation is not really a ministering church.
- Does the church know the needs of the community? This point is really simple: a church cannot minister to the needs of its community if they do not know those needs. Can your church leaders describe the demographics of your community? the level of poverty? the needs in the schools? the social ills?
- What percentage of small groups did an outreach ministry event in the community last year? Tackling the needs of a community often involves targeted efforts: small groups of people take on specific projects. The combined efforts of a congregation then impact the community.
- Is your congregation willing to cross barriers to reach people? Does your church know what ethnic groups live in your ministry area? If so, are they willing to cross cultures to share the gospel and plant churches? Is your church open to reaching out to people caught in bondages (e.g., sexual sin, addictions, etc.)? One thought: if your church is not already crossing these barriers, it’s hard to answer these questions in the affirmative.
- Does your church provide training in ministry (e.g., divorce recovery, grief care, hospital visitation, biblical counseling)? Even if your members are willing and ready to minister in the community, they will likely need some training. Ministering churches make sure to provide this training.
- Is the preaching in your church applicational? What may seem an odd question in this category is actually an important one. If your members hear they are to love their neighbors, minister to the sick, etc., will they hear only admonition – or will they also hear practical ways to apply the teaching in their lives? Admonition without accompanying opportunities for application often leaves the hearer struggling to be obedient.
- Do church members see their homes as lighthouses for the gospel? Is their home simply a place to live, or is it a base for ministry? Churches that do ministry well lead members to see their home as a lighthouse and their street as a mission field.
- If your church disappeared from your community, would the community miss you? An honest answer to this question will tell you a lot about your church’s efforts to minister in your field.
Suppose you were to score each question on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being "I'm very displeased with where my church is" and 10 being "I'm very pleased with where my church is"), what would your score be? What other questions would you add to this list?