The New Year is often a great time to reflect on 2018 and also to look forward to what 2019 will bring. We can do that as individuals as we recall the moments of joy, the difficulties and the goals we achieved over the last 12 months. And, especially if we are involved in church leadership, we can do that as a leadership team together. There are several good assessment tools for churches that are useful in discerning health or vitality indicators, but to start the conversation I have compiled a free Church Health Checklist. This Checklist (download here) arises out of the common themes I see emerging from consulting with well over a hundred churches.
Why is it important for a local leadership team to reflect on church health?
Firstly, 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure'. Preventative-proactive approaches such as collaborating with the congregation around a clear vision for the church or a leadership team covenant can save much grief down the track with a minimum of effort.
Secondly, if a leadership team identifies negative health issues that are emerging, it can be both easier and possible for the team to deal with those issues before they get out of hand. Or, if needed, to request outside assistance in the form of consultancy or some other intervention at the earliest possible opportunity. In my experience, problems that are allowed to develop over many months tend to become quite difficult to remediate.
Thirdly, a conversation around church health can identify areas of upskilling for the leadership team, and foster their ongoing development. This may be through coaching/mentoring, or training workshops. For example, encouraging and skilling members of the leadership team other than the pastor to be involved in training and equipping Christians in ministry and leadership. Such a conversation may also identify adjustments in job descriptions for the pastoral team and other leaders.
Fourth, growth blockages can be identified. Maybe a conversation about health will lead to the realization of the need for strengthening connections with the local community. Or recognizing that co-ordination between various ministries is struggling. Or to some clear decisions about planting in a neighboring suburb. According to my research, identifying growth blockages in a relatively healthy church can unlock much growth and vitality.
I trust you find the Checklist a useful tool for those fruitful conversations about health and vitality as you embark on 2019!
© 2019 Ian Duncum. All rights reserved. No reproduction without written permission. Ian’s book, The Impact of Church Consultancy will be released shortly. Click here to pre-order a copy, or to receive an invitation to the book launch.
Dr Ian Duncum is a trained and accredited (with John Mark Ministries) church consultant with 20 years experience of working with non-profit enterprises and churches across a number of denominations. This has also included denominational leadership roles in church health and development. An accredited minister with a track record of revitalising and growing churches, Ian also trains church consultants, facilitates training for ministers and leaders, and mentors/coaches pastors and other leaders. He can be contacted at www.ianduncum.com.au or firstname.lastname@example.org