Evaluating 21st Century Church

Nearly everyone involved in this Christian Movement, from paid professionals to tangential participators, is curious about how we know we
are being effective as Church….NOW. We know how we used to evaluate ourselves way back in the 20th century. Building or maintaining our buildings, putting more bodies in the pews, and raising or at least maintaining our budgets were our organizational metrics (three Bs for short). Every denomination developed annual forms to report our church’s progress in the three Bs. Over time, we lulled ourselves into believing the three Bs are the goal of being church, since this is what we measured and took the most air time in our leadership team meetings. We mistook tools of ministry for the goal of ministry.

Now 21st century Christ-followers are just as disenchanted with organizations as those in our larger culture. Building a good organization may be important on some level, but is certainly not the goal of this Christian Movement. Transformation of individuals, families, communities, and ultimately the world appears to be God’s intent when we read the gospels. When we are becoming disciples who love, then we are succeeding. When we join God’s movement to transform this world, then we are succeeding. When we use the tools and assets we are given (church campus, collective energy, money, etc) toward transforming ourselves and others, then we are succeeding. Sure we want to keep our organizations running smoothly, but that’s not our ultimate goal or priority.

Below is a list of statements for rating. These are not exhaustive or meant to be prescriptive. Instead we suggest that you use these faith-statements as conversation starters with your church about what we need to measure now, in this 21st century church. These statements are not refined or perfectly articulated, overlapping and intersecting one another. Given this, your church can use these as a beginning place for considering what you are actually about as a faith community. Collectively engage these statements, discerning how you would articulate them for your congregation. What is it we are really after when it comes to being church together?

Rate each statement below on a scale of 0-10; 0 = no progress, 10 = could not be any better
As you do so, place each statement in the middle of this sentence
“As a result of participating with this church,___________________________________, than I was at this time last year.” For example, the fist statement below is to be read as, “As a result of participating with this church, I am more loving than I was, at this time last year.”
• I am more loving now than I was
• I am more connected with other disciples who’s aim in life is to live in the Way of Jesus
• Our family is more engaged with our neighbors
• Our family actively contributes to one another’s disciple development
• I am more engaged in efforts to improve the lives of people in our community
• I serve with others in more specific tangible ways to transform our community toward the better
• I am more interested in and focused on the common good in our community
• I am more eager to engage others in meaningful and loving conversations about God’s engagement and interaction with us
• I am more forgiving
• I am less judgmental in my thinking, attitudes, and actions
• I am more gracious and caring when engaging others who hold different perspectives than me
• Aquiring more money and things is a lower priority, while contributing financially to the betterment of this world is a growing priority
• I financially and prayerfully support at a higher level those who go to challenging places in our world, carrying and embodying the good news of the gospel
• I carry less resentment toward others who have wronged me
• My family relationships are improved due to my efforts to forgive and invest in relationships

Reviewing this evaluative statement list, it’s clear we are looking for transformation in our lives as individual disciples as a result of community of faith participation. When churches use this or a similar self-evaluative statement list, they are positioning themselves for the community of faith evaluation. Now they are ready to ask what the church is doing to help disciples develop or grow regarding each of these ways. What is our church doing to contribute to the transformation of individual disciples, families, communities, and the world? Our role as church is to partner with God’s world transformation efforts. So isn’t it time to get focused on where God is focused?

Mark Tidsworth
President, PLA