While serving as the Director of Women’s Ministries for over 20 years, every January we had a “state of the ministry” meeting where we would focus on two questions: 1) What are we doing well? and 2) What can we do better?
But what criteria do we use to answer those questions? Numbers do not always reflect an accurate picture. A ministry can be growing while drifting from its purpose. Similarly, numbers can be decreasing while growth among those who remain is increasing. As my pastor frequently says, “More time with fewer people has greater kingdom impact.”
To sort that out we developed the following criteria for evaluating the success of our programs:
Equipping the saints, growth, and evangelism
- Is the ministry primarily staff-led or lay-led? (Lay-led is better in the long run.)
- Does the ministry have a growth track that regularly equips the saints to do the ministry? (Lay leaders should always be training their replacements).
- How many lay people involved in the ministry are being given real responsibility?
- Why are numbers increasing or decreasing?
- Does the ministry regularly present the gospel message?
- Are those who are involved in the ministry actively inviting people to hear the gospel message?
- Are people coming to faith and growing in their faith?
- When people leave the ministry, is it because they are rejecting Jesus or seeking new ways to serve him?
Ministry Leadership and Oversight
- Is the ministry primarily staff-overseen or elder-overseen?
- Does the ministry have functioning elder oversight?
- At the practical top of the team performing the ministry, is there one or many? (One alone at the top can lead to burn-out.)
- Does the ministry respect, encourage and strengthen the priorities that God has placed on those in the ministry?
- Does the ministry respect, encourage and strengthen the relationships and authorities that God has put in place?
- Is everything that is done, done for the glory of God?
- Does the ministry attract those who are seriously interested in Christian growth and discipleship?
- Is the ministry attractive and inviting?
- Is the commitment of discipleship set appropriately high?
- Is the teaching rooted in the Bible?
- Is the teaching something that those listening don’t already know?
- Does the ministry have a planned curriculum for teaching the whole counsel of God?
- Does the teaching also show the Bible study method to confirm the authenticity of the message?
- Does the message ‘feed the sheep’ (cause growth) or ‘beat the sheep’ (cause a try-harder perfectionism)?
- Is the message “be perfect” or gospel oriented?
- Is the teaching connecting with those being taught?
- Is the teaching clear and practical? Or is the message couched in Christian jargon, vague or abstract?
- Does the teaching excite those listening about Christianity?
- Is the teaching of the ministry done by a group of people?
- Is the teaching of the ministry reviewed and critiqued by a group with authority over the teaching?
- How much real teaching and discipleship is happening in the ministry?
- Does the message lead to changed lives when it is heard?
- Does the message cause the listeners to grow in living their faith more fully?
- Are people becoming more people of the Word?
- Are people becoming more people of prayer?
- Are people becoming more people of faith?
- Are people becoming more single-minded in their identity are part of the household of God?