Congregational Survey and Ministry Audit Five Marks of Healthy Congregations

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1 Congregational Survey and Ministry Audit Five Marks of Healthy Congregations The Conference Council of the Missouri Annual Conference, in collaboration with Bishop Schnase, has designed two new tools to assist congregations in evaluating ministries pertaining to the five marks of healthy congregations. They may be used together or separately as churches and leaders evaluate ministries and strive toward health and vitality. The Survey is designed to be taken by many individuals in the It is intended to be summarized by a small task group from the church, and it will produce fruitful discussion. An initial set of questions in the Ministry Audit were written by Bishop Schnase. The Conference Council then added to that list. The audit is designed to by used as a worksheet by leaders of a congregation to consider specific aspects of each of the five marks of healthy congregations. Here are some alternatives for using the tools provided by the Conference Council. Alternative One 1. Take about ten minutes during worship one weekend and invite everyone who attends to take the Congregational Health Survey. The survey can be completed in about seven minutes and will need just a couple of minutes to be introduced. 2. Assign a small group to evaluate the results of the survey to learn how parishioners perceive the strengths and weaknesses of the 3. Focus first on areas that appear to need to be strengthened according to the results of the survey and use the ministry audit to lead to a dialogue about what the congregation needs to do to become more effective. Later, the church council can look at other sections of the ministry audit to make strengths even stronger. Alternative Two 1. Divide the Ministry Audit into sections and hand each section to appropriate teams for making an evaluation. 2. Ask each team to report back to the church council what they have learned and any action steps they intend to take to make improvements. 3. Use the Congregational Health Survey as a pre-test and a post-test to evaluate whether those changes make the desired difference. Alternative Three 1. Set a learning time for the regular meeting of the church council. At each meeting, select one section of the Ministry Audit for dialogue and discussion. 2. Assign work to appropriate groups that can initiate new or improved ministries based on what you learn. 3. Use the Congregational Health Survey results to stimulate the discussion in each section. Don t simply trust that church leaders know what parishioners think! A

2 Radical Hospitality Ministry Audit Is our congregation s hospitality Christ-centered? How do we regularly stress the importance of hospitality as a mark of Christian discipleship through the preaching and teaching ministries of the church? In what ways are members and visitors in all Sunday School classes, Bible studies, and outreach ministries regularly encouraged and reminded to invite neighbors, friends, and acquaintances into the ministries of the church so that they might encounter the love of Christ? Is this understood as an expectation of membership? Is our hospitality producing fruit? Are visitors attending church; are they getting involved beyond worship; are they becoming disciples and church members? How many people have joined in the past year by profession of faith? By transfer? Is there a plan to see that more may come next year? Does our congregation make intentional plans for involving new persons in ministry? Is our congregation rotating the same people through various leadership positions, or does it welcome new leaders? Is our congregation s hospitality accountable? Is there a consistent plan with clearly-defined responsibilities for visitor follow-up for those who attend services, day schools, scouting programs, and various other ministries of the church? Who is responsible for holding us accountable in carrying out the plan? What contact do visitors receive and from whom in the first days after visiting? Is there a plan for assimilation that involves lay and clergy staff during the weeks that follow from the first visit? Who has that responsibility? Does the church regularly attempt to start new ministries, such as Sunday School classes or other small groups, focused on new members and visitors to the congregation? When was the last ministry started? When is the next one scheduled to begin? What are our specific goals for participation, and what are our strategies to increase attendance and participation in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and worship? In what ways does our plan include extending ourselves beyond the walls and into the community? How do we go in search of those who are to be invited? Who is responsible for carrying out these plans, who is responsible for evaluating their effectiveness, and who is responsible for making changes? Does the pastoral leadership and lay leadership of the congregation participate in at least one training event per year aimed at learning from other congregations or leaders from other congregation on how to enhance hospitality? If our church has a staff, how are they (including church secretaries, choir directors, children and youth directors, day school directors, and support staff) held accountable for fostering an atmosphere of hospitality for members, visitors, and those served by the church? Does our congregation s hospitality ministry demonstrate excellence? In what ways do we encourage behaviors like the following: moving to the middle of the pew so guests can have the aisle seat; helping the mother who is taking a noisy child to the nursery? Who takes responsibility to assure that announcements do not use jargon and/or information only the active members will understand What do we do to be sure ushers, greeters, and other hosts are easily identifiable by guests? 1

3 Does our congregation expect visitors? Is there a consistent and positive program of ushers and greeters, with specific training on welcoming, hosting, and accommodating the needs of visitors? Who is responsible to the training? What is our communications plan that for assuring that prospective members and visitors receive information about the church and upcoming events, such as church newsletter, , community newspaper, letters of welcome from the pastor or staff? Are all visitors and prospective members receiving the major sources of congregational communication? Does our congregation have an advertising/marketing plan for reaching new people? Is this plan carried out with a quality that will attract those who are not involved with a church? When and how frequently do the Trustees evaluate facilities, giving special attention to their appearance and inviting quality? Are the facilities inviting, attractive, safe, and easy to navigate? What steps have we taken in the last three years to improve them? When did we last evaluate our signage that assists visitors in finding the facility and in finding their way throughout the facility? What have we done recently to improve our signs? Is there accessibility for disabled persons? Do we clean house before Sunday because we are expecting guests? Who is responsible to walking the building each Sunday morning to assure it is ready for company? Is our congregation s hospitality a collaborative effort? Will a visitor experience hospitality offered consistently whether attending worship, a small group, or a meeting of United Methodist Women or United Methodist Men? Do those who represent our congregation in VIM trips or community work days offer the same hospitality as what they expect to receive? How are we training them and responding them of that responsibility? Do most church members believe hospitality is their responsibility, or do they expect it to be offered by a select team? What have we done to remind them of that responsibility? Notes 2

4 Passionate Worship Ministry Audit Is our congregation s worship Christ-centered? Are sermons practical, relevant, and prophetic, helping connect people to God and helping them grow spiritually? Are children made to feel welcome? Are there means by which children grow in their understanding of the faith through worship? Does our music reflect the joy of the risen Christ? Does it encourage encounters with God? Who is responsible for assuring that its theology is consistent with our Wesleyan heritage? Is our congregation s worship bearing fruit? Do church members invite friends to worship because they are excited about what they have encountered? Would visitors to worship in our congregation describe it as inspiring, motivating, or life transforming? In what ways are the lives of those who participate being shaped through the music, Sacraments, and liturgy of worship? How do we know of these changed lives? Is our congregation s worship accountable? Is weekly and regular attendance an expectation of church membership? How do we reinforce that expectation? Are those who attend taught that their active participation has a positive impact on other worshipers? How do we teach that principle? Do leaders learn from worship guests in order to improve the worship experience? Who is responsible for that task and to whom do they report what they learn? Does our congregation s worship demonstrate excellence? Do the pastor and other staff and laity who lead worship give adequate time to preparation of sermons and music so as to enhance excellence? In what ways does the staff-parish committee encourage that commitment of time and resources? Is there particular attention to the quality of music and singing? Who has that responsibility? Is there high-quality, safe childcare for young children? Are varieties of generations made to feel at home? How do we make church members aware of our safe sanctuaries policy? Is worship contextual to the surrounding community? Is worship in our congregation designed to use all of the senses? In what ways are we intentional about being multi-sensory? Is the environment intentionally designed to fit the theme? (Lighting, candles, art, smells, video, etc.) Who is responsible for assuring consistency between the theme of worship and the environment in our sanctuary? Is our congregation s worship a collaborative effort? Do worship leaders take opportunity to visit and learn from other congregations? How is church leadership intentional in encouraging worship leaders to learn from others? What are we doing to improve? Do all participants have a sense of their significance in making worship meaningful for other worshipers? How do we encourage their involvement? Is there open conversation between worship planners and worship participants as to what makes worship meaningful? What is a strength in our worship that we might be able to teach other congregations? How could we invite others to learn from us? Notes 3

5 Intentional Faith Development Ministry Audit Does our congregation offer intentional faith development that is Christ-centered? Is there a plan or practice of encouraging personal devotional reading and personal Bible study throughout the year? Is the devotional reading of books or scripture encouraged during Lent or Advent? Who is responsible for encouraging these spiritual disciplines? What opportunities are offered for short-term studies (Advent, Lent, summer, etc.) that deepen the faith or understanding of Scripture? How do we invite newcomers, visitors, and non-church neighbors attend? What is our intentional plan for helping members discover their spiritual gifts and how to utilize them? In what ways have we given people opportunities to use their specific gifts in their service through the church? Is intentional faith development in our congregation bearing fruit? Does the number of participants in small group ministries total at least 50% of the average weekly worship attendance of the congregation? Is there an indication that lifestyles and behaviors of church members are being impacted by the study offered by the congregation? In what ways do we give members opportunities to identify and articulate those personal changes? How have we encouraged those who are growing in the faith to mentor persons who are newer in the faith? What new small group ministry has congregation attempted in the last six months? What will be the next group we offer? Is faith development in our congregation accountable? Are church members expected to have a growing depth of faith through an intentional study plan? How do we tell members about these expectations? How do we reinforce the expectations? Can you name who is responsible for carrying out the intentional ministry of faith development, who will evaluate the effectiveness of the ministry, and who will assist in making changes that help the ministry become more effective? How is that person/group supported by the resources of the congregation? Does our congregation s faith development ministry demonstrate excellence? Are there sufficient opportunities for people to study, learn, and teach the faith in small groups, such as Bible Studies, Sunday school classes, prayer teams, covenant groups, and ministry teams? How do we communicate those opportunities to members and guests? Is Confirmation regularly taught? Is there an expectation that adults as well as young people will learn the basics of faith? Is there an intentional plan for helping individuals explore (recognize, understand, and respond to) God s call to them to ministry, either clergy or lay? Does the congregation offer short-term but intensive experiences (retreats, Emmaus, etc.) designed to deepen faith quickly? Is faith development in our congregation a collaborative effort? Does the pastor teach, lead, and/or participate in the small group ministries of the church? Does the pastor teach at least one weekly Bible study? Have the pastor and/or laity taken training opportunities to lead studies and classes? Do church leaders regularly learn from other congregations how to develop a more effective teaching ministry? What other congregations are we working with to develop workshops that train others to do what we do well? Are lay persons involved in leading small groups and classes? Notes 4

6 Risk-Taking Mission and Service Ministry Audit Does the congregation offer Christ-centered mission and service? Are there mission and service opportunities offered by our congregation that focus on serving the least among us? Do some of these opportunities require church members to enter into partnership in a handson manner with those they serve rather than just offering money? Do they provide an opportunity for those who are served to become more independent and gain dignity? Are there ministries that invite members to stretch beyond their comfort zone at the risk of being criticized? What ministries do we offer that confront racism, classism, and other forms of oppression? Is the congregation actively seeking opportunities to create new faith communities for those who are not currently in its membership? Is the mission and service offered by our congregation bearing fruit? How is the community we serve being changed through the mission/service ministries of our congregation? Is there a notable difference in both the lives of those being served and those who serve? How do we identify and celebrate those changes? Where has the congregation focused on a ministry long enough to have a long-term impact? Do church members take advantage of opportunities for community mission/service beyond those offered by the congregation? How do we name and encourage those opportunities? Is the mission and service offered by our congregation accountable? Is there an expectation that church membership requires at least one commitment to service within or beyond the church each year? What do we do to communicate the expectation? Is our congregation committed to ministry with persons who live near the church, regardless of their faith orientation or lack of one? How do we learn about their needs? How are younger people and new members invited to become involved? Is the ministry financed in a manner that it can be sustained? Does the mission and service offered by our congregation demonstrate excellence? Does the mission/service ministry require the best from those who serve? Are gifts made through the ministry of high quality as if the gift were given to one s own child? How do we monitor the quality of in-kind gifts that are given? Do those serving offer the utmost respect and concern for the dignity of those being served? How do we seek to learn about the cultures we serve when they are different from our own? How do we train those who serve to understand and communicate respect? Do the ministries we offer lead to restoration of right relationships and reconciliation while discouraging judgment? Is the mission and service offered by our congregation a collaborative effort? How is the mission work of congregation and of the conference regularly reported and communicated in the congregation with invitations to participate? Are VIM trips planned collaboratively with the Missouri Conference and/or with neighboring congregations? Have our leaders attended VIM leader training? Are church members encouraged to write letters to legislators and take other forms action that will help resolve the missional need on a larger societal scale? Notes 5

7 Extravagant Generosity Ministry Audit Is the generosity of our congregation offered in a Christ-centered manner? Does the congregation participate in an annual church-wide stewardship/pledge campaign to deepen the commitment of members and extend support for the ministries of the church? Who is responsible for assuring the plan includes significant lay leadership, communication, and personal witness about giving and tithing? In what ways are people encouraged by example and witness to grow in generosity? Does teaching about stewardship focus on the Christian s need to give more than the church s need to receive? How does the congregation communicate the expectation that church membership requires proportional giving with the goal of tithing and beyond? Are young people taught Christian generosity through Scripture, example, and opportunity? Is the generosity offered by our congregation bearing fruit? Do church leaders and pastors support proportional giving leading to a tithe by example? Are church members showing increasing giving habits through their financial offerings to the church? Is there an increasing percentage of the church budget being spent on ministries beyond the walls of the congregation? What was the percentage 10 years ago? What is it today? Does the congregation support the special offerings of the denomination as well as offerings to UMCOR in response to disasters and other times of immediate need? Is the generosity offered by our congregation accountable? In what ways does the pastor teach, preach and practice the tithe? How do finance committee members and church leaders hold themselves accountable to tithing and growing in extravagant generosity? How is this communicated to the congregation? Are congregation leaders clear in their understanding of sources and patterns of income, salaries and support plans for church staff, decisions and priorities for expenditures, and systems of accountability? Who is responsible for auditing the accounting systems? Does the congregation faithfully support the apportionment covenant that makes possible connectional ministries across the Missouri Conference and the United Methodist Church? Does the generosity offered by our congregation demonstrate excellence? How do those who give generously receive appropriate encouragement and appreciation from the pastor or from other church leaders? Does the congregation have a Planned Giving or similar committee that encourages and facilitates bequests, estate gifts and legacy giving for the purpose of the church or particular ministries? Does the congregation pay the staff at a level that approximates the lifestyle of members? What is the intentional plan for communicating the theology of giving throughout the year rather than just during the pledge campaign? Do other congregations in our community perceive our congregation as generous? Is the generosity offered by our congregation a collaborative effort? What resources, books, or consultants do leaders learn from? What other congregations are models for our work? Notes 6

8 Survey Please take a few minutes to fill out the following survey. After reading the question at the left, place a mark in the box at the right that most closely describes our response. You will not be individually identified through this survey. We will learn more about the effectiveness of the ministries of our congregation by compiling all of the responses as a group. Thank you for our assistance. Radical Hospitality 1 I am wanted, needed, and valued in this 2 Our congregation welcomes people we don t know to our small groups or worship services 3 I believe our congregation actively encourages people who are not in leadership to share their ideas. 4 I am enthusiastic about inviting another person to participate in my congregation s ministries. 5 Our congregation works cooperatively with other congregations and other denominations to do ministry. 6 Our congregation attracts people of cultures that are different from my own. 7 Young adults are valued and encouraged to take leadership in this 8 In my first visit to this congregation I felt comfortable (welcomed). 9 Hospitality is represented in all areas of our congregation (small groups for women, men, youth, mission, etc.) and is part of the culture of the Passionate Worship 1 I encounter God in this congregation and feel that God is actively guiding what we do. 2 The worship service in which I participate inspires and motivates me to live more fully in the presence of God. 3 My prayer life is stronger and more satisfying because I am involved in worship here. 4 Worship services in this congregation enhance my personal worship practices. 5 There are other people in this congregation who pray for and care about me. 6 Worship in this congregation is attractive to people who are younger than me. 7 I attend worship whenever possible. 8 The people with whom I worship are actively involved in worship and contribute to my experience Neutral Neutral 1

9 Intentional Faith Development 1 My congregation offers me an opportunity to grow in my faith by participating in a small group (e.g. Sunday School, midweek study groups, etc.). 2 I am currently participating in a small group that is offered by my 3 Other people in this congregation are interested in my faith development and encourage me to grow. 4 I have an active personal study life for my faith development. 5 I have a better understanding of the faith today because of the ministries offered by this 6 I am learning about my spiritual gifts and have an opportunity to exercise them in this 7 I am learning the faith from a person who is more spiritually mature than I. 8 I am teaching the faith to a person who is newer to the faith than I. 9 The leaders of this congregation value intentional faith development and encourage my participation. 10 My congregation offers me the resources I need to develop my faith (e.g. books, pamphlets, video, daily devotions, etc.) 11 I am growing in an active personal prayer life that is enhanced by my participation in the ministries of this Risk-Taking Mission/Service 1 I personally serve Christ through actions that respond to the needs of persons beyond the membership of this congregation 2 This congregation offers me opportunities to exercise my faith through Christian service. 3 This congregation offers me opportunities to exercise my faith through ministries of social justice. 4 The leaders of this congregation are intentionally helping me discover how I can best serve other people in the name of Christ. 5 During the past year, I served on a mission team or project with others in this 6 This congregation actively seeks ways to be in service in the community and the world. Neutral Neutral 2

10 Extravagant Generosity 1 I give at least a tithe of my income for the ministries of this congregation, or I have an intentional plan for increasing my giving to a tithe within the next five years. 2 I am excited when our congregation takes a special offering because it means we are giving ourselves away. 3 This congregation looks for opportunities to support those who are beyond its walls. 4 I give with a glad and generous heart. 5 Good giving habits are intentionally taught to young people in this 6 This congregation helps me grow in the grace of giving. 7 Giving is taught in this congregation in a way that is positive and helps me grow in faith. Sense of Belonging 1 I know what is expected of me as a member of this 2 I am energized by the work I do on behalf of this 3 I know the mission of this congregation, and I am helping accomplish it. 4 I am happier, healthier, and more satisfied with my life than I would be if I were not a part of this 5 Leaders in this congregation are gifted and called to be leaders, and committed to improving as a leader. 6 An environment of trust exists within this Neutral Neutral Demographics Age Group Under Over 65 Gender Male Female Ethnicity African-American Asian Caucasian Hispanic/Latino Native American Pacific Islander Other Relationship to Congregation Member Guest Active but not a member 3

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