As the end of the year approaches, plans may already be made for next year’s ministries. Or perhaps the planning is in process. Regardless of where your church is in the planning process, year-end is the perfect time for some ministry assessment. Most churches plan for the calendar year to coincide with their calendar year budget, so now is the perfect time to assess your current ministries before anything is planned or placed on the calendar.
Why is ministry assessment so important? There are multiple reasons that assessments are important! Here are some top reasons why every church would want to prioritize the assessment of their ministries regardless of their size or budget:
- Ministries launch with the best of intentions and aspirations. However, without consistent assessment and course correction, they can become misaligned with the church’s mission and vision. We call this missional shift.
- Ministries are the tools, methods, and resources we use and deploy to make and develop disciples. Ministries need to change from time to time. Too often, churches get too tied to an obligation for particular events or ministries and lose focus on why they even exist.
- When ministry assessments are conducted, it can be determined whether the ministry is effective in its missional purpose. Assessing helps ministry teams become intentional and have great clarity on the purpose and intended outcome of the ministry. Without an annual assessment, individual team members may develop different ideas on the purpose and intended outcome for their ministry team. We refer to this process as the Accountable Leadership Cycle that you will find outlined in Mission Possible.
- Annual ministry assessments keep churches from playing favorites (people, memories, and ministries) and hold leaders accountable. If we continue ineffective, missionally misaligned ministries, people will experience burnout, frustration, and the church will likely decline due to the ineffectiveness. When a church holds an event or conducts a ministry simply because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings if the ministry were stopped, the church is not being good stewards of people’s time, energy, or resources. Ultimately, the church leaders must be good stewards and leverage all the church’s assets towards the mission of making and maturing disciples. People want to be a part of something that is vital, thriving, and where they can make a difference.
- Assessing ministries allows the church to celebrate the life of a ministry and give it a good funeral. When a ministry has lived its life span and its time has come to an end, it is a wonderful time to celebrate the fruits of the ministry, give it an appropriate burial, and move on to another ministry that will better serve the church’s mission and vision.
- If a church is doing strategic ministry planning, the ministry is really one of the last pieces of the planning. Instead, churches often start with planning the ministries first. First, the church leaders need to determine a vision that reflects the unique way their church is being called to live out the mission of making disciples in this current season within the boundaries of the church’s core values. The church board/council then sets overall church goals that will identify the faithful steps needed in the coming year to live into the vision. Those goals are then used to set objectives – otherwise known as the ministries, programs, and events in the coming year, so the church lives into their mission and vision using the core values as guard rails. The ministry budget comes from the objectives. For more information on strategic ministry planning, check out Strategy Matters.
- Assessing the overall collection of church’s ministries allows leaders to ensure there is a proper mix of ministries offered within the four categories that determine a well-balanced ministry and optimal discipleship growth: Internal Entertainment/Edification, External Entertainment/Edification, Internal Equipping/Evangelism, and External Equipping/Evangelism.
As you can see, there are many reasons to assess your ministries. Before one ministry, event, or program is planned, is placed on next year’s calendar, or is granted dollars in next year’s budget, take the time to assess each and every ministry of your church. It is not only a best practice of accountable and faithful leadership, but it is assurance of the best usage, stewardship, and alignment of God’s resources. Shouldn’t ministry assessments be a fundamental obligation and requirement as a church leader?