The Value of Evaluating

by Rev. John W. Fogal, Sr.
john-fogalSocrates gets credit for saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Maybe that’s a bit overstated but the Bible is clear on this subject. “Examine yourselves”… (2 Corinthians 13:5) and that can apply to the church as well as to individuals. Jesus taught that we are to be “fruit testers” (Matthew 7:16-20). The Apostle Paul wrote “his work will be shown for what it is…and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Corinthians 3:13). He also wrote, “But if we examine ourselves, we will not be examined by God and judged in this way” (1 Corinthians 11:31NLT). I don’t know what all that means but it does seem to be to our advantage to examine ourselves now rather than wait until the Judgment Seat of Christ. 
So, how should we examine our churches? By counting nickels and noses? Is size the best measurement? Notice, Paul wrote about the “quality” of our work, not the “quantity.” Can “quality” be measured? I believe it can. The New Testament does give us a clear picture of some “Quality Characteristics” that describe what a healthy church looks like. There are instruments available to measure these qualities. But, what is the value of using them? 
The people, not the pastor or church consultant, are saying what needs to change. We find the area of need in time to treat it before it is too late. People are more likely to change when they participate in the process. It is the least painful way for God to get our attention and give us a wake-up call. It helps us focus on the one area of church life that will make the most difference in the church’s health—rather than trying to do so many things and not doing anything very well. It tells us what needs to change in order to become healthier as a church. 
So, don’t be afraid of an evaluation. It is a wise thing to do—just like getting a physical exam. Nobody should feel threatened. This will keep the church focused on its mission and tell us how we are doing. Don’t live in denial. Be open and learn by using a reliable, accurate survey tool. Wouldn’t you like to know the verdict now rather than face our Lord on judgment day not knowing? 
Rev. Fogal is the Church Health Director for the Western Pennsylvania District and a Church Health Specialist with Church Health Service.


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