Sunday, March 31, 2019

Smart Churches Assess Themselves - In Groups and Regularly!

By Warren Bird, Ph.D.

After your last trip, how many times did you receive a survey asking, “how did we do?” You get asked by your airline, rental car company, hotel, and more … but probably not by the one that’s floundering! Whenever you tell yourself, “I hope this company sends me a survey, because outside eyes like mine can see where they need to improve” – too often they don’t.

Likewise, churches that review their progress inevitably get better. If we reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7), then smart church leaders are constantly examining the seeds they’re sowing. As management expert Peter Drucker taught, what gets measured gets managed.

Self-assessment can help that happen. One researcher compared several thousand pastors, dividing them between those who meet in peer groups to those who don’t. Her report title said it all: “Is the Treatment the Cure?” Bottom line: as the graphic below illustrates, amazing things happened when, as this researcher framed it, “pastoral leaders met regularly with other ministers or pastoral leaders in a small group for continuing education and support.”1

Introducing ChurchBoardScoreTM

Good news: ECFA recently released a free assessment that your church can use and discuss as a peer group—ideally as a church board.

Named ChurchBoardScoreTM ( this online tool will help your board evaluate its performance, giving you instant feedback from your self-assessment.

The best parts of the assessment feedback are the suggestions of very specific and practical ways you can improve. In fact, we’re finding that even those who get a high score tend to peek at the coaching tips to learn how they can become even better.

Don’t let the “free” entry fee throw you. This new tool took months to develop. It’s quite robust in the guidance it offers. We believe ChurchBoardScore will enable your board to have some lively discussions, to get better, and your board will want to come back in a number of months to take the assessment again.

Tip from research: Anytime you assess as a group, and then discuss and apply what you learned, you’ll improve all the more.

1Marler, Penny Long, “A Study of the Effects of Participation in SPE [Sustaining Pastoral Excellence] Pastoral Leader Peer Groups,” April 2010, presented to Austin Presbyterian Seminary.