Church Evaluation Made Simple

Jesus in the gospels was very clear.

He only gave one new commandment. In fact, we call it “THE Great Commandment.”

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35, NRSV

It’s like Jesus was saying, “When you forget what you are about, or when you get lost in the swirl of activity, or when you are over-scheduled and over-whelmed, or when you are not sure what you are doing, or when you lose your way, or when your clarity is gone and you are chasing the wind….then, come back to this one great calling. Love one another. That’s it. That’s the bottom line. That’s what this entire church endeavor is all about.”

And then, just before the ascension, Jesus gave another directive to the disciples - Making disciples of ourselves and others. We call this one “THE Great Commission.”

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
–Matthew 28:16-20, NRSV

This is our calling. This is our commission. This is what we are called to be and do: loving disciple-makers.

So, when it comes to evaluating how well we are doing as a church, these are the bottom-line criteria. Apart from church, these are great criteria for self-reflection. When we take the long look, considering reaching the end of our lives as we know them….and reflecting on our journeys…these are meaningful criteria we could use to evaluate our life journeys. Did we become more loving, like our Lord, each year of our journey? Did we become greater disciples and influence others to become greater disciples of Jesus Christ each year of our journey? What a great way to evaluate ourselves as disciples as well as our corporate experience through our faith communities.

Given this, here’s a first run at some evaluation rating statements. Perhaps your faith community would consider using these as benchmarks this year. No, it’s really not about buildings, bodies, and budgets. Those are only tools used to support the real work of the church. These statements help us focus on the great commandment and commission, cutting through much which interferes with clarity and distracts our attention.

Growing in love

Rate the following statements on this 0 (not at all) to 10 (couldn’t be any higher) scale.
-As a result of participating in this faith community, I am more loving now that I was at this time last year.
-My interactions with others are more loving now than they were one year ago.
-What I believe about God is making me a more loving person.
-My belief system has more to do with God’s love now than it used to.
-My internal attitudes and thought processes are influencing my behavior toward compassion …more now, as compared to this time last year.
-Participating with my faith community influences me to be more loving.
-Interacting with other disciples in this faith community influences me to be more loving.
-My participation in this faith community influences others here to be more loving.
-What we do in this faith community (activities, time, learning, etc.) influences me toward love.
-Our community is growing in its appreciation for our loving spirit.
-We are known in our community for being a love-based organization.
-Our community looks to us when a needs for loving responses arise in our community.
-Our community attributes our loving attitudes to the formation which happens when people are disciples of Jesus Christ.

Making Disciples Of Ourselves And Others

-I am more of a disciple of Jesus Christ now than I was at this time last year.
-Due to my engagement with this faith community, I am more of a disciple of Jesus Christ now than I was at this time last year.
-Interacting with the other disciples of this faith community influences me toward following Jesus as a disciple.
-What we do as a faith community influences me to become more of a disciple of Jesus Christ.
-It is clear to me that this faith community intentionally pursues discipleship.
-This faith community challenges me to live like Jesus modeled and taught in the New Testament.
-Due to my engagement with this faith community, I engage those around me in loving ways, influencing them toward becoming disciples of Jesus Christ.
-I’m so caught up in living in the Way of Jesus that I find myself wanting those I care about to join this way of life.
-I find myself engaged in conversation and dialogue with others around me about living in the Way of Jesus regularly.

I heard a pastor share a strong statement in a sermon once. “If we are not greater disciples of Jesus Christ this year than we were at this time last year, then we are failing one another. We are not being church to one another.” My hope is that we can respond to that statement with an affirmation. “We are greater disciples now than we were last year, largely due to our engagement with each other through this faith community.”

By this love, others will know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ.
Church evaluation made simple – and crystal clear.
May we become who God aspires for us to be.

Mark Tidsworth
Pinnacle President
markt@pinnaclelead.com
Helen