New program helps congregations analyze ministry

Beautiful Savior, Marietta, Ga., is at a crossroads. While it is a healthy, growing, financially stable congregation, the church’s leadership knows that the congregation needs to make some decisions about where it is going in the future. Does it expand in its present location or relocate to a better spot? Does it daughter a congregation? Does it look into opening a school? And how does staffing play into the picture?

“We’ve been blessed, but we’d like to be more proactive and aggressive in reaching out and deciding how best to serve our community with the gospel,” says Lucas Bitter, pastor at Beautiful Savior.

Knowing its need to do some long-range planning, the congregation turned to the Commission on Congregational Counseling (CCC) for help with the process.

Part of the synod’s Congregation and Ministry Support Group, the CCC works to assist congregations to assess and evaluate current ministry and to develop and carry out plans to adjust or expand that ministry. Through the new Self-Analysis and Adjustment program, counselors take congregations through a process that helps them examine their ministry and make decisions about where they want to go in the future.

The program has four phases. First, a congregation provides the counselor an extensive look at the congregation’s current ministry program, statistics, and history; its community’s demographics and characteristics; and its membership’s analysis of the congregation’s ministry through an online survey.

Next, the counselor visits the congregation for a weekend-long assessment. “The heart of this program is an all-day Bible study where a congregation really gets to think about what it can do to the glory of Christ in its community in various areas of ministry based on what Scripture says,” says Jon Hein, CCC director. Through information gathered from breakout groups at the Bible study, the counselor then works with the congregation to analyze how the congregation is doing in various areas of ministry—what is working and what needs improvement.

The counselor then takes that information home and puts together a summary report as well as recommendations for the congregation. Different modules—or virtual libraries of information—provide the resources that will help the congregation tackle an area it wants to improve. Then the real work begins for the congregation—implementing the action plan.

According to Hein, the whole process will take about a year. But the final goal isn’t just to complete this process—it’s to show congregations how to continue to analyze and assess ministry in the future. “This isn’t a magic bullet that when you’re done with the CCC program, everything’s going to be going well,” says Hein. “It’s not. In fact you’re going to be more acutely aware that things aren’t always going well. But you’ll also have an idea of how to address that.”

Currently 25 congregations are involved in the Self-Analysis and Assessment Program; 120 more have shown interest. The CCC recently trained 30 additional counselors to work with congregations, with plans to mentor future counselors later in 2015. Hein is also continuing to gather material and to work with the other CMSG commissions to produce more resources for the program’s modules.

Bitter says Beautiful Savior, which completed its assessment weekend in October 2014, is excited to continue in the process. “God willing in six to ten months we’ll have a five- or ten-year plan, but we’ll also have refined our ministry in many different areas as we work to be good stewards of all the different gifts and the people that we have.”


Volume 102, Number 1
Issue: January 2015

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