7 Practical Questions to Evaluate Your Church Ministries

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When was the last time you conducted a ministry audit?

It’s always best to be continually monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of your church’s ministries but every two-three years it’s good to take a comprehensive look at all of your ministries together. It’s important to know what is working and what isn’t.

  • Is each ministry healthy and productive?
  • Does each ministry operate in support and alignment of the others?
  • Are all the ministries, guided by the mission, moving in the same direction?

When your church’s ministries are functioning well together it’s like a finely tuned orchestra that produces a beautiful symphony. At its best it inspires people to want to be part of the orchestra.

On the other hand, if the musicians don’t know what part they play, can’t play their part, or even playing a different symphony, the result is an unorganized musical mess.  The dissonance is more than annoying. It makes good musicians want to leave the orchestra and music lovers will go somewhere else.

One of the most common mistakes churches make is having too many ministries. They are often added randomly over many years rather than in orchestrated unity and intentionally designed for your church.

No one church can do all ministries, so the question becomes, which ones should you do? Are they a random collection or do they represent a “divine thumbprint” that is prayed about and designed as a master plan? For more on this aspect, see this post: A Lean Ministry is a Smart Ministry

7 Practical Questions to Evaluate Your Church Ministries

(Ask these questions for each of your ministries)

1) When did the ministry begin and why was it started?   

Any specific local church ministry may have served a significant need years ago when it started, but it is still relevant and meeting real needs today?

A good place to begin an audit on each ministry in your church is to have a clear sense of when it began and why it was started. Life, culture and ministry have adapted and changed. Has each ministry kept up?

Its there a sense of freshness about the ministry, is it thriving and growing in strength, reach and overall impact?

A good place to begin an audit on each ministry in your church is to have a clear sense of when it began and why it was started. Life, culture and ministry have adapted and changed. Has each ministry kept up?Click & Tweet!

2) How does the ministry support and advance the overall mission?

Nearly any ministry in a local church can be deemed important and helping people, but that doesn’t mean you should do it. Ask the question, how does it specifically support and advance the overall mission?

Be honest with that last question. Almost any ministry can be said to fit under the mission of the church, but relatively few actually help move the church forward when we consider the overall health and strength of the body of Christ.

Perhaps this is a slightly different but better way to ask the question. Is the ministry enhancing the forward movement and overall progress of the church?

3) Are the ministry outcomes greater than their input, energy and resources?

The question of input vs output is both a strategic question and one of spiritual stewardship of resources. (Resources meaning time, people and financial.)

One of the most common situations I see in churches is a tremendous amount of effort and energy invested into a particular ministry but with little results.  It’s typically exhausting and discouraging for all involved.

Can the struggling ministry be turned to greater spiritual productivity (life change) by good leadership that brings clear vision, prayerful goals and healthy growth or is it destined to drain resources with little results?

One clear evidence of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in any specific ministry is that the spiritual outcomes are greater than the human investment. We all know what it looks like to see God moving!

One clear evidence of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in any specific ministry is that the spiritual outcomes are greater than the human investment. We all know what it looks like to see God moving!Click & Tweet!

4) How would you assess the overall effectiveness of the ministry?

Jesus was very clear in His teachings including several parables about producing spiritual fruit. We have been given gifts, talents, opportunity and responsibility. The results of each of your ministries matter.

Jesus also looked for specific things like faith, risk and obedience when it came to the growing early church and their ministry to reach people and change lives.

The elements such as faith, risk and obedience in the operation of our ministries are as much about our growth as those we seek to serve.

As power was unleashed into the early church, Jesus was always about maturing the body of believers and extending their reach with the gospel message. We carry the same responsibility.

  • What are your benchmarks for each ministry?
  • What are the agreed upon measurements?
  • Who is responsible for that assessment?
  • What helps you to know the ministry is working or is not working and is exercising good stewardship?
  • What is your impression of God’s voice in the matter of each ministry?

5) Does your church staff and key volunteer leaders have the bandwidth to lead the ministry?

You may have several good ministries that fit your biblical, missional and ministry philosophy construct, but if you don’t have the leaders to lead them, its wise to wait.

Always invest in raising up new leaders before starting new ministries. The reverse results in anemic ministries and tired and discouraged volunteers.

You’ve heard this before, but let me say it again, less is more.

Don’t overload your leaders with too many ministries and end up inadvertently demotivating them and causing your church to get stuck in the paralysis of busyness.

The best combination is developing leaders and a strategic approach to ministry architecture.

Always invest in raising up new leaders before starting new ministries. The reverse results in anemic ministries and tired and discouraged volunteers.Click & Tweet!

6) Could the ministry be continued by a volunteer but not under the church’s responsibility?

Every idea for a new ministry that someone in the congregation comes up with does not need to be owned by the staff leaders of the church.

A better approach is to empower the person with the idea to lead the ministry on their own. You can encourage them, give them some coaching, but its up to them, not the church staff to provide the leadership to make it happen.

We have many examples of this at 12Stone Church. Sharp volunteers had a great idea, we encouraged them, gave guidance and empowered them to lead. It’s their ministry, not 12Stone’s and we cheer them on!

7) If the ministry was ended, what would happen?

This may seem like an unreasonable question, since any ministry can help someone. But it’s a good question when we remember the principle that a lean and intentional ministry structure is much more effective than a random collection of ministries that a small handful of people feel passionate about.

When one ministry within the church is brought to closure it gives opportunity for deeper investment and greater results in the remaining ministries. The principle of focus multiplies each ministry’s effectiveness.

Every local church increases the potential for greater impact when it decreases the number of ministries it leads.