As a pastor, I hated the idea of evaluation. It sounded too much like a way to open myself up to needless criticism. After all, who really wants to invite an outsider to tell them what they are doing wrong, add more “to do’s” to their list, or make them feel guilty for what they are not doing? Pastoring is hard enough already. Why invite more frustration?
But what if I were to tell you that evaluation can be a positive experience? Don’t misunderstand. “Positive” does not always translate into “easy.” However, evaluation can be positive in the sense that it can clarify issues, reveal potential, and renew hope.
If you were to overhear a discussion from biblical church evaluation, you might here phrases such as:
- “This church works hard and endures a lot to keep going, but in the process has lost their passion for people.”
- “This church has stayed true to doctrinal teaching, yet they are allowing their people to trip over stumbling block”
- “This church looks busy on the outside, but they are dying on the inside.”
- “This church is apathetic and needs to decide if they are going to be serious about ministry or not.”
You may be wondering, “is that kind of evaluation biblical?”
As a matter of fact, yes, every one of those evaluation statements are biblical. How can I be so sure? Because they are pulled directly from Revelation 2 and 3 where Christ evaluates the seven churches. Here’s how those statement read in Scripture:
- “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance…. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first”
- “You hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith… But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam…”
- “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”
- “You are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!”
In almost every instance, Jesus shared a positive and negative with each church. Then, He gave them a course of action to move forward. For example:
- “Do the works you did at first.”
- “Wake up.”
- “Hold fast.”
- “Make up your mind whether you are hot or cold.”
Notice, Christ did not try to make each church conform to a “cookie cutter” template. Instead, He addressed them as unique congregations with unique gifts, skills, contexts, and opportunities. His evaluation had the simple goal of helping them to be more faithful and effective in the Kingdom.
Biblical church evaluation aims to help churches be the best church Christ has created them to be. That means that all church evaluation will seek to point out:
- Things the church is doing well.
- Places where the church needs to improve.
- Action steps to help the church move forward.
I believe that every church must consistently evaluate itself. Why? Because according to the example of Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus is already evaluating churches. And He has great expectations for every congregation.
If we really take our responsibility as the body of Christ seriously, shouldn’t we desire to evaluate ourselves regularly to make sure we are being faithful our calling?
I certainly think so. If you’re not convinced, I’m asking you to evaluate the idea!