For any of us that work full time, this is one of those topics that often raises some levels of stress! Who enjoys annual "performance evaluations". For any leader this idea means critique, honesty, compassion, confrontation, and often discomfort. It should also mean encouragement and affirmation, but as humans we often remember the areas that need improvement over areas that are affirmed and rewarded.
Evaluation is a topic in every classroom, business, government, and organization. There is a constant need for assessing whether the work we are doing is achieving the desired results. In classrooms we often take tests. In businesses we look at the bottom line. In government leaders watch opinion polls. How do we measure success as ministry? What are the questions that we ask ourselves to see if we are succeeding as followers of Jesus and as leaders in His church?
In almost 20 years of ministry I have seen many different strategies utilized by Christian leaders to evaluate success. The most common in churches is to measure the 3 B's: Buildings, Bucks, and Butts. This refers to the Church's Facilities (Buildings), Budget (Bucks), and Attendance (Butts in the seats). In many churches if these things are doing well, then we can move on to more other more depth assessments. Interestingly enough, this evaluation tool leaves out the things that Jesus seemed to care about most.
In Schools evaluation methods continues to be one of the most controversial elements of education. Currently many schools are administrating the big Spring Tests that the State of Texas prescribes for student, teacher, school, and even district wide evaluation. Students, Teachers, Schools, Administrators, and District leaders can be rewarded and punished as a result of this giant evaluation. It is a highly controversial conversation to ask a professional education if they believe that these evaluations are helpful or hurtful (if you ask, be prepared for a passionate response).
The bottom line is that evaluation is always a difficult task. When we ask the question, "How am I doing?", it opens our hearts to injury. We are terrified to find that we are lacking in some way, we hate hearing that we have areas that can improve. Even the most humble amongst us do not enjoy to hear of our shortcomings and failings.
Yet we all know that we need assessment to continue to grow, improve, and even just understand what we are doing well, or not. As followers of Jesus we need this as well. Scripture consistently encourages us to reflect on our actions and test our motives. It tells us to confess our weakness and sin to one another. It tells us to bear one another's burdens and strengthen each other as Iron sharpens Iron. So let's take a few minutes and let's face this formidable foe together.
As followers of Jesus are we succeeding? Are we actively doing the things Jesus commanded us to do? A missionary to Guatemala named George Patterson in the 1960's developed a short list of Commands that have been called the 7 Commands of Christ since then, that summarizes the commands we see the early church in Acts 2 actively following. It would be good for all believers to ask themselves if they are faithful to following these basic Commands. Here is a link to George sharing how the Commands were discovered/created.
George's Command List is as follows: 1. Repent and Believe, 2. Be Baptized, 3. Make Disciples, 4. Love (Neighbors and Each Other) , 5. Abide (Prayer), 6. Give, and 7. Gather (Lord's Supper). If you are doing all of these things well, then we can go to the hard ones like, "Pick up your cross daily and follow me."
But how do we evaluate our ministry(s). Are we, as a local expression of Jesus Followers, doing the things that Jesus expected of us? Here at Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, we are doing so much. We have weekly worship services, weekly Bible Study classes, children's ministry, youth ministry, missions ministry, community engagement classes. We have staff meetings, counseling sessions, committee meetings, study sessions, prayer sessions, devotional times, camps, service opportunities, strategy sessions with leaders, and that is just a glimpse. We could add so much more. How do we evaluate whether we are accomplishing our mission?
Calvary's mission statements says that we, "exist to make disciple-makers for the glory of God among the nations." How do we measure if we are accomplishing that task? The answer to this question can be very complex. In fact there are many organizations providing services to churches and ministries that help perform complex assessments and evaluations to help ministries understand whether or not they are accomplishing their vision. I think we can find a simpler way!
I would love to hear what questions you might ask to evaluate the ministries that you serve in? Feel free to comment below and share your questions and thoughts. In my next post I will share a story and a tool that could be helpful in our evaluation processes.