9 More Findings from Church Health Surveys

Some months ago, I posted general findings about churches based on our Lawless Group’s Church Health Survey. Here are nine more of those general findings.  

  1. Worship is often rated as the highest area of the church’s health. That doesn’t mean, though, that church members see worship as healthy – it’s just that they see worship as healthier than any other area of the church. Even a high-ranking worship service might still be viewed as unhealthy. As noted in my previous posting, evangelism and discipleship are usually ranked the lowest.
  2. Churches tend to be inwardly focused.  It’s not uncommon for church members to tell us that “there are enough churches in our community” or “we need to meet the needs of our members before we minister to others” or “a church should not start a new church until it has adequate surplus in the budget.”
  3. Church members don’t know what the church is doing.  It’s quite common that CHS respondents tell us they don’t know if the church provides evangelism training, offers mentoring for new believers, helps members use their spiritual gifts in ministry, or provides a number of other opportunities. Sometimes, respondents don’t even know if the church has a prayer list or a prayer room.   
  4. Church members usually know when there’s ongoing struggle. They tell us if the church has seen recent conflict, and they recognize when those conflicts are unresolved. They have no problem admitting when their church has cliques. Interestingly, church staff are sometimes less aware of conflict. 
  5. Increasingly, more respondents are unsure about the way to heaven. An increasing percentage is undecided about whether Jesus is the only way to heaven or whether good people of other faiths may go to heaven. Perhaps not surprisingly, younger respondents tend to be more uncertain.
  6. At least according to CHS respondents, churches do not deal “quickly with open, flagrant, and unrepentant sin of church members.” I say “at least according to CHS respondents” because some churches may deal with sin without broadcasting the issues; thus, respondents would not know. I suspect, though, that their perception is accurate: churches just don’t deal with the issues.
  7. By far, members say they’re willing to serve in the church. If every person who says he/she wanted to serve were serving today, churches would have no need for volunteers. What the CHS tells us is that either (a) respondents are being untruthful, or (b) churches don’t do a good job of recruiting, training, and supporting willing people. I suspect it’s the latter.
  8. Church members don’t know if their church is growing (if it’s growing) more by transferring members from other churches than by reaching non-believers. It’s not surprising to us that members don’t know this answer, but it is concerning. Churches that don’t talk about this difference tend not to be evangelistic.  Transfer growth can lull them into an evangelistic nap. 
  9. Members say they have “at least a few friendships with people who are not Christian.” Whether they grieve over their friends’ lostness is another matter, but the problem is not that they’re completely disconnected from a mission field.

Do any of these findings reflect your church?

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