Every church needs to be evaluated to determine the next steps in improving its ability for effective ministry. You can always improve, and it can occur through a simple, three-fold process:
• Assess — You assess by deciding what needs to change, why it needs to change and how you will change it. This gives you a working knowledge of your strengths and challenges. Consider going to healthychurchsolutions.org and taking our free church assessment. Reach out to us if you need help by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Heidi Sorrells at email@example.com.
• Envision — Once you have assessed where you and your church are currently, you need to envision what you think needs to be changed or improved. What new skills do you need to learn and teach to your team? What will it look like for your church to equip, empower and release leaders with the right tools to enable them to be successful in their responsibilities? What stage of church life is your church in right now — incline, recline or decline? As a leader of the church and from your experience so far, what do you see as your calling over the short-term (1-3 years), intermediate-term (3-7 years) and long-term (8+ years)?
Goals — As you envision the necessary changes, what is your vision for making disciples, developing leaders and multiplication? What three to five changes can you make in the next 90 days that would make a difference? How will you encourage and motivate your people to move from being inwardly focused to becoming focused on the community where God has placed you to advance the gospel? What will it require to move your church from being a church that believes in prayer to being a praying church?
You assess, envision and then you begin to set clear and specific goals that will move your church toward church health and growth. Where are you (assess), where do you want to be (envision) and what steps of action do you need to take next (goals)? Never forget that God’s work inyou is far more important to Him than his work throughyou. There were important ministry skills that enabled your church to be originally planted, then grow, get healthy and survive difficult times. What ministry skills have you forgotten or forsaken over time that need to be rediscovered and reimplemented?
God showed you or someone a vision for your church and how it could become what God desired it to be. God clearly called you to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment, and now it is time to recommit to carrying that out. He taught you how to become others-centered (Phil. 2:3-4), build courage (II Tim. 1:7), lead well (II Tim. 3:16-4:2), develop faith (Rom. 5:3-5) and He gave you a heart for lost people (John 3:16-17). At every stage of your development and your church’s development, God has and will continue to be working on growing you in grace and knowledge.
Would you say you are less self-centered, more courageous, a better leader, have more faith and have a deeper heart for lost people now than you did one year, two years or even three years ago? The ministry skill needed first is hearing God’s voice. To be effective in ministry, you must hear His voice in calling you to ministry, whereHe is calling you and how He desires for you to carry out His ministry. You must follow His voice to bring together the people and resources necessary to lead your church to be the mature, healthy and growing congregation He desires you to become. Do not question in the dark what God showed you in the light.
If you cannot hear God’s voice, how will you know what to do and when He wants you to begin? God’s tool set for hearing His voice is primarily His Word and prayer. Without knowing the Scriptures and without having His Word in your heart (Deut. 6:6), it will be very difficult for the Holy Spirit to move you to make the right decisions. This is especially true in times of temptation and points of pain.
Bill Elliff quotes his mentor Manley Beasley as saying, “The mark of a godly man and the mark of a godly church is that everything they do is God-initiated!” Bill says, “The church will rise no higher than the pastor’s intimacy with Christ.”
Did you know, that at least six times, Jesus said, “I can do nothing that is not God-initiated”? (NASB: John 5:30; 8:28, 30; 12:49; 14:10; 16:13). Though He was God, He laid aside all of the rights, privileges and powers so He could be the perfect human sacrifice for our sins and model for us how a true man should live. He illustrated for us what we are to be and do by showing how we discover that moment by moment. We are to listen to and move at our Leader’s commands. The first ministry skill is being able to discern (Macedonia Call: God to you) the voice of God in all the busyness and noise of the world in which we live.
Here is what Bill says in Presence Centered Church: “Our lives are filled with activity, appointments and hundreds of conversations, but it is our pride that causes us to rarely give God times of undivided attention… If you don’t think you have time, begin by repenting of your opinion of your own importance. The world can make it without you one day a month.” He continues, “Any leader who desires to experience the presence must make deliberate time to dial in… Usually you will make more progress in this one day of concentrated communion than in a whole week of scattered thinking.”
First necessary ministry skill — hearing the voice of God! I hope and pray that we are listening!