Evaluating Church

1441915_68829979Let’s be honest, we evaluate everything. We do, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously. The trouble is rarely do we evaluate what we are evaluating. Let me explain, as this is particularly problematic with church.

We do evaluate church, and it happens all the time, and I know you do it too. On the ride home you talk about how the sermon was maybe good or flat. You talk about the worship and whether it was anointed or off. We evaluate and measure things.

My contention is not with evaluating the church, it’s with what we evaluate the church by. I would say that in the pastor world the standard three things we evaluate the church on is this: budget, buildings, or attendance. Is our budget growing? Are our facilities top notice? Is our attendance growing? And then we start evaluating how we are doing by our programs (i.e. preaching, worship, youth min. etc)

And none of these things are intrinsically bad. We need to be thinking through our budgets, buildings, people, and programs – but these are not the best criteria to evaluate the church. These are not the best criteria to make sure that our church and communities are pointed in the right direction. Because hear me clearly, what the world needs is not bigger budgets, better buildings, more churchgoers, or cooler programs. What the world needs is more devoted followers of Jesus. We need more disciples.

Neil Cole writes this:

Ultimately, each church will be evaluated by only one thing – its disciples. Your church is only as good as her disciples. It does not matter how good your praise, preaching, programs, or property are; if your disciples are passive, needy, consumeristic, and not moving in the direction of radical obedience, your church is not good.

Cole is seeking to take our focus off of the things the church often does (programs, preaching, etc) to the thing the church is called to make – disciples. And I think this is how we need to be looking at our churches. I think these are the kind of questions we need to be asking:

  • What kind of disciples are we making, and do they look, live, and love like Jesus.
  • Are we doing a better job at that – than last year.
  • Are we releasing and raising up disciples and sending them out?

And rather than just using our budgets, buildings, or numbers to evaluate where we are going, what if we ask this simple question: how are we doing at making disciples? Because for the church to be faithful to Jesus, it needs to be faithful to its calling – to make disciples.

And I think if we ask that question it will point us in the right direction. It will help us to be more faithful. It will help us to not get caught up in all the good things around us and miss out on the most important thing – making disciples.

And so it’s a hard question as a pastor to ask, but I think it’s the right one. And I think it’s one that points in the right direction, because it points to Jesus and the church’s calling. And I think that matters.

…then the church is dying

My youth pastor sent me this picture and quote. He thought I would like it, and he was right.

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The reason I like it is it challenges our priorities. It asks us what matters most, our personal preference or passion for Jesus; is our comfort more important than others coming to know Jesus; what is the centre for us – ourselves or our calling?

These are really important questions to look at and ask. Because I believe the world needs the church. The world needs Christians. The world needs you and me. But it only needs us if our priorities are right. It needs followers of Jesus that are willing to die to themselves, that are willing to put others first, to be last in line, and serve. These are the type of people that change the world, because these are the type of people who courageously follow Jesus.

So I guess this little quote simply is asking me: what’s front and centre in my life ~ God’s calling or my personal preferences. That’s a really good question. A good question to think about, but an even better question to shape and change my actions.