Things have changed in our churches and may never really go back to pre-pandemic standards. Sunday schools, missionary ministries, and special services may not survive the pandemic. Youth and children’s ministries will be unrecognizable as we adjust to new social norms. Small group teaching ministries and community fellowship gatherings may die out because of a lack of willing participation by church members who feel they are unsafe or unnecessary. These realities present church leaders with 4 questions they must answer:
- What ministries are alive and can be increased?
- What ministries are struggling and can be improved?
- What ministries are dying and shouldn’t be invested?
- What ministries need to invented?
Basically, we need to know what’s working? What can work better with a little effort? What’s not working and is draining resources? What do we need that we don’t currently have?
Every ministry or church has at least part that is thriving. It may be the messages, worship experience, or community outreach. It could literally be any ministry in your church but you must identify them objectively. That means, the ministries of the church must be evaluated based on the overall goals, vision, and mission of the church, as well as the ministry’s ability to meet those goals. We must do everything we can to reduce the subjective input of our feelings, any nostalgia, traditions, and pet peeves about each ministry. Here are 7 steps to consider.
Step 1: Pray
Pray for your church and yourself. Pray for your leaders and decision makers. Pray that the Holy Spirit will prepare your hearts and minds to participate in the evaluation process. Pray and invite the Holy Spirit to guide you every step of the way.
Step 2: Review our goals.
Take a hard look at your stated goals, your vision statement, and mission statement to be sure you understand what they mean. It may be helpful to write the goals in a list format. Once you have the list written, rank the list from most important to least important. This will help you prioritize your decision in the next few steps.
Step 3: Identify the measurable factors.
In each goal and statement, there are some factors that can be used to measure your effectiveness. Those factors could be volunteer participation, attendance, geographical impact, community impact, contributions to mission work, or new salvations and baptisms. List the measurable factors and assign benchmarks for determining how effective or ineffective your ministries are operating.
Step 4: Start counting.
Once you know what you should measure, start counting. Find out numerically how many people are actually attending services. Find out how many resources are being assigned to each ministry. Also consider the time and energy investment you’re making in each ministry. Your return on investment is based on the goals you have for each ministry.
Step 5: Place each ministry in a bucket.
Every ministry in your church should fit into one of 3 buckets: working, struggling, or dying.
Step 6: Make the right call.
Working ministries can be put on auto-pilot and/or slightly improved. By auto-pilot, I mean you can put systems in place to keep those ministries going with minimal additional effort. This will free up energy and resources to address the struggling ministries that need your attention to improve them. But only pour resources into those ministries that can be brought up to a status of excellence that helps you reach your goals. Dying ministries must be handled carefully. Sometimes, it’s hard to make the tough call to discontinue support for a dead ministry. But it might just be the right call. This critical decision can mean the difference between starting a newer, more effective ministry and obligating resources to drag along dead weight.
Step 7: Start something new.
If you go through all the steps and notice there are some gaps in your ministry effectiveness, it may be time to think outside of the box. Look at the landscape of ministry around you and abroad. Broaden your exposure to understand the methods and technologies that are working in other places. Take your time to develop the ministries you believe will help you reach your goals. Test before you launch. Get buy-in from stakeholders. Make sure the new ministry efforts are sustainable.