Thursday, October 23, 2008

Assessing Church Health

It seems to me that statistics are never that helpful when we want to assess the health of a church – there are too many outside factors that can cause a shift in 'bums on seats', so here are some other possible Church Health Assessment ideas.
In medical health they talk about Human homeostasis that refers to the body's ability to regulate its internal physiology to maintain stability in response to fluctuations in the outside environment. The liver and kidneys help maintain homeostasis. The liver is responsible for metabolizing toxic substances and maintaining carbohydrate metabolism. Regulating and balancing in response to external factors makes a healthy organism – I suspect the same can be said of the Church as population/economic/social/immigration/migration trends seem to knock stats one way or another. This means they are quite difficult to read. If we take this sort of approach to Church Health – which I suspect reflects more the gospel we might be able to come up with some other factors. Resilience – I would suggest that is over stating the case as one sign I would consider of health/discipleship is resilience - pointing more towards where the people are in their faith rather than the ministry of the Vicar/priest/ministry team

Every Member Ministry - I think a good indication also – to be Christian is to be a minister how seriously is that taken up – not just in church but in the community. I suspect a better indicator of health is volunteers per parish population base, from there we could give a percentage basis- I would suggest 50% + would be healthy. The fact volunteerism is on the decline may be an indicator of either poor discipleship, people's busyness, lack of opportunity to serve or poor teaching, but it is certainly an indication of poor church health

Fringe Activities: The Church is in tension it is on one hand a closed system (a worshipping community) but by nature and professing it should also be growing form the fringes. If the Church has homeostasis health then as a body it should be able to regulate its internal physiology to maintain stability in response to fluctuations in the outside environment. Therefore you would see Healthy growth and also healthy decline in response to the external environmental pressures. Health of church governed by what is happening on the fringes – that's what makes it different to the social clubs – that is how worship and mission are balanced out with that in mind here are some other possible indicators:

  1. Visitor Volume Ratio – 5:100 and form there a Visitor Retention Ration – 4:100 –
  2. Friendship Ratio – 1:7 vital sign of life
  3. Small Group Ratio – 7 groups per 100 people
  4. Financial Ratio – $1 in $10 to outreach (local and or Mission)

For what it's worth....

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