You put your right hand in… then you look around to see who did it wrong!
I always loved games like the Hokey-Pokey. It wasn’t the music, it wasn’t the fun with friends, it wasn’t the sadistic need I had to shake it all about (which, let’s face it, is simply a way for the coordinated kids to rub their skills in the faces of the pokey-challenged)… no, it was the competition.
Perhaps you put your right hand in, but I did it better and faster. The Hokey-Pokey, for me, was the supreme pre-school evaluation tool.
I enjoy evaluating and pushing myself to be the best, it’s part of my DNA. Then I became a pastor…
WELCOME TO CHURCH
The idea of either self-evaluating and/or having someone evaluate a ministry of your church can be frightening and intimidating. Who in their right mind would invite personal or ministry critique?
Reality is, however, that even if a church or a ministry doesn’t invite critique, it takes place on an informal level. People are very discriminating. “What did you think about the sermon?” Or, “Do you like the new Sunday school class?”
If this is true . . . if ministry evaluation takes place on an informal level, why not move it to a formal level so that we can benefit from it rather than be a victim of it? Why not evaluate ministry intentionally, in a way that builds up… in a way that sharpens.
SCRIPTURE ON EVALUATION?
Evaluation is not foreign to the Scriptures. In the Old Testament we see God’s people encouraged to give and do their best for him. Israel was to bring their best animals for sacrifice (Leviticus 22:20–22; Numbers 18:29–30). When they did not bring the best, it was an indication that their hearts had wandered from God (Malachi 1:6–8).
While no examples exist in the New Testament of a church passing out some kind of performance appraisal, that does not mean that they did not appraise their people and ministries, nor does it mean that we do not have the freedom to do so.
In 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Paul gives the qualifications for deacons and elders. That means that some kind of evaluation was made or such qualifications would not have made sense. In 1 Corinthians 11:28, Paul preached healthy self-examination to the members of the church at Corinth. He encouraged them to examine themselves before taking the Lord’s Supper. This would result in the proper proclaiming of the Lord’s death (vs. 26) and preclude judgment (vs. 29–32).
Again, in 2 Corinthians 13:5–6, he tells the people of the church to examine and test themselves to see whether they are in the faith. To fail such a test would have been a calamity. But he seems to indicate that not to test oneself would be an even greater calamity. Just as an unwillingness to measure one’s spiritual condition makes spiritual growth nearly impossible, so failure to measure a church’s effectiveness makes its growth nearly impossible.
In Ephesians 6:5–8 and Colossians 3:23–24, Paul teaches that God expects us to give only our best in our work. We are to do our work as if we are working for God . . . as if God deserves our best.
AN EVALUATION IDEA
While there are many ways and many different methods of evaluation I most often employ the up, in, out, down method. This method assumes that a church and its subsequent ministries are living things. Living things grow, change, and go through cycles.
If we think of the church in terms of the human body which scripture so frequently does (Romans 12:3-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Ephesians 1:18-23; 5:25-32; Colossians 1:17-20; 3:14-16), how would we know if a person were healthy, if they were maturing, if they were reaching their full potential, etc.?
Well, living things that are healthy go through cycles from new life to death. How do we measure the life of an organization? A lot of methods, tools, books and/or consultants could be used but I tend towards the simplicity of the up, in, out or down evaluation method.
- Living things grow up functionally.
- Living things grow in spiritually.
- Living things grow out numerically.
- Living things go down and are put to rest to make room for new or other growing things.
The next series of posts will cover each of these in a little more detail.