On his second missionary journey in Acts 15:36ff, Paul revisited the churches he had planted on his first missionary trip to “see how they are” (v.36)—probably to assess their current reality–and for “strengthening the churches” (v.41) to guide them to God’s best next steps.  He was not only a great church planter but also a great church revitalization leader!

After all that’s happened in the last two years, it’s crucial now for a leader to accurately see how his church is, and to follow God’s steps to strengthen it. Today, 65-90% of churches are plateaued or declining in health. They’re urgently in need of hope and help!

What are some markers for assessing your church’s current reality? Dr. Aubrey Malphurs from Dallas Theological Seminary outlines for church leaders the “Ten Warning Signs of a Church Plateau”…

  1. Volunteer numbers have decreased or stalled.
  2. You spend your time putting out fires rather than planning for growth.
  3. Staff are leaving and not developing.
  4. Facility issues are disregarded to handle urgent shortfalls.
  5. The church’s vision looks back more than it looks forward.
  6. The church’s core values are more aspirational than actual.
  7. Young families seem to flock to another nearby church.
  8. Evaluation is considered something that might happen in the future.
  9. The concept of discipleship groups doesn’t extend beyond [the typical] “Sunday School.”
  10. Guests attend, but often do not stay (see www.malphursgroup.com).

Now is not the time for church leaders to be like “ostriches with their heads in the sand.” Ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s dangerous when leaders don’t assess their ministry, and it’s not a good stewardship of their calling.

What are some current, proven ways to assess your current reality?

  1. Pastors can take the Revitalization Pastor Survey to privately assess where you are at, and to determine where God wants to grow (free copies are available from our SCBI Church Health Office).
  2. Pastors and leaders together can take one of many assessments available through our SCBI Church Health Office to evaluate your congregation’s strengths and growth areas; many of these assessments are free, but those which are more extensive can cost as much as $199 for your church.
  3. To assess what is happening in your community and how well your church is reaching/ministering to it, Pastors and leaders can order a free Percepts Demographics Study through our SCBI Church Health Office.

We recommend that you and your leaders enlist a trained, experienced coach to guide your church through this assessment process and to prayerfully consider God’s best next steps. For recommendations, contact John Horn, SCBI’s Church Health Team Leader, at jhorn@scbi.org.