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Key Questions For An Effective Ministry Assessment

Key Questions For An Effective Ministry Assessment June 22, 2018Leave a comment
ministry assessment

Effective church ministry assessment questions are essential for growth. If we want to get better at what we do, then we need to honestly assess it, recognise positives and negatives, and develop plans for growth. This is true individually, and organisationally.

I’ve worked with churches that have unintentionally introduced growth caps to their mission, vision, and cultural plans because they did not learn from their prior performance. This principle is true of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual performance, in any area you may work in.

Creating a church ministry assessment is easy enough because as leaders we already ask many of the essential questions! The visionary leader will always ask “what’s next?”, whereas the strategic leader will ask “how will we do it?” The action-orientated leader wants to know “when can we do it?” and the thinking leader says “how did we do?” Depending on our leadership style, we may gravitate to one or more of those questions naturally. But we need to ask all of them, and not just in a token way to tick a box, but in a thorough, meaningful manner.

To start this process of church ministry assessment, you must develop a culture built around a consistent, robust review process. This asks a series of questions about something we want to review – a ministry or event, for example. These questions are considered and answered by leadership and the answers shape any change that may be needed.

If we don’t regularly implement a review process, we will plateau our personal or church growth. It’s a leadership principle that if plateau-causing thinking becomes the norm, stagnation and decline inevitably follow.

Using a review process is important, but only if done consistently. Making a review part of the leadership culture will see the most benefits over time. Having the right people as part of the process is key, too. Anyone on the team and any key people with influence need to be present to have their say and listen to others. Finally, it’s important to give ourselves to the process emotionally, especially when areas or actions dear to our heart are the ones being reviewed! The heart of healthy ministry assessment questions is a desire to see growth. We want to see activities, projects, and events be all they can be and continually improve. A simple ministry assessment you could use asks questions based around four phases, which I will expand on below:

Ministry Assessment

Ministry Assessment Phase 1: Plan

This is considered the start of the ministry assessment if you are intending to start a new initiative. But if you are working with an existing initiative, it might be later on. Either way, some good planning questions to ask include:

– What is your goal? What are you wanting to do? What does success look like?

– How will your mission and vision shape it?

– What milestones will you use? How will you measure progress?

– Who needs to be involved? Have they been part of a dialogue so they have the opportunity to contribute and buy-in, or share questions and concerns?

– Is it achievable with your available resources of people, energy and expertise? If there is a resource gap, what is your plan to manage that?

– When do you need or want to complete it? Is this reasonable and achievable given your team and resources?

Assessment Phase 2: Do

Time to follow the plan! Some erroneous thinking can creep in here, especially from leaders who subscribe to an ‘action-first’ style of leadership. These leaders are the type who don’t really respect a plan and jettison it as soon as feels convenient. Sometimes, this is behind the language of being ‘Spirit-led!’ Now, this might be the case, but sometimes, actually isn’t the Holy Spirit. Remember, the Spirit is the spirit of order, not chaos. If the fruit of jettisoning or ignoring a plan is chaos, overlooking it might not automatically be a God thing!

The point here is that it might be convenient for the leaders, but might not be for their team. Plans are wonderful servants and terrible masters but do bring order, stability and protection. If you are wanting to ditch a plan, get your team buy-in before you do. Otherwise, the review part of this process could be full of very painful conversations for you!

Simply put, planning without action is stagnation.  Action without planning is a reaction. But planning partnered with action creates momentum.

Ministry Assessment Phase 3: Review

After your initiative, it’s time for the review. The best practice is to do this by discussing as a team if you have one. Good questions to ask include:

– Did you achieve your goal? Why or why not?

– How was your timescale?

– What worked, and what didn’t?

– What didn’t work as well as you thought, and why?

– What worked better than you thought, and why?

– How did the team, and key individuals, perform? Who overperformed, who underperformed, and why?

– How did your resource availability and usage help or hinder your initiative?

Ministry Assessment Phase 4: Improve

A thorough and honest review should provide a lot of useful information that can help you upgrade your initiative the next time you run it. The same information can also be leveraged for other initiatives. Good questions to ask include:

– What are you going to do differently next time?

– What will you do that you didn’t do?

– What will you not do?

– What didn’t you do that you will next time?

– What realistic changes can be made that have the greatest impact?


Armed with this data, you can move onto the planning stage and begin again. Growth and continuous improvement won’t be far away from your projects, events and activities if you implement this as part of your leadership culture. You’ll see individual and organisational development and will continue to get better at what you do, which is one of the aims of leadership. This is the purpose of ministry assessment. So plan, do, review and improve. Again, and again, and again!

I offer churches a number of comprehensive ministry assessments that review different aspects of church life and provide a plan for development and improvement. You can find out more here. You can also take one of my free church health assessments here.

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