An Update and Reflections on the Church Health Assessment

When church leaders seek a meaningful place to assess the health of their congregation, where do they turn? Late last summer, the Siburt Institute launched the Church Health Assessment (CHA) to provide just the resource.

The CHA is an online research tool designed to measure a congregation’s health in nine critical areas. Those areas include: leadership, mission and values, spiritual formation, congregational culture, intergenerational dynamics, worship, and financial life. Although other similar tools exist for congregational assessment, this is the only tool available today that is tested for reliability and specifically designed for Churches of Christ.

CHA was developed by skilled ACU researchers Dr. Carley Dodd and Dr. Suzie Macaluso, and in conjunction with consultation partners including Missions Resource Network and Hope Network. Twelve congregations have used this tool since September, and early indications suggest it serves as a useful resource when deployed with a consultant to help congregations identify strengths, growth areas and possible blind spots.

In early June, Macaluso led a session on the development and early use of the CHA at the Christian Scholars’ Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. There, she reported several interesting items emerging from the data on these 12 churches:

  1. Elders and ministers are generally more optimistic in their perceptions about the church’s well-being than members are.
  2. Conflict is often a hidden but real thing in declining congregations.
  3. Aspirationally, churches want to attend to multiple generational contexts—such as children, youth, young adults, or singles. However, those aspirations are often not demonstrated by budgets or programming.
  4. Although it is far too early to see this in the data, there are indications to suggest that healthier churches have leader teams in which elders and ministers highly regard each other and are trusted by the congregation.

These findings are preliminary; more data is needed to really confirm. However, they resonate with the work I do with congregations as a consultant and suggest the CHA can be an important tool for congregations in assessing health.

Click here to learn more about CHA. The cost of the CHA instrument is $395; churches also will need to engage a consultant through either the Siburt Institute or one of our partners. The CHA offers your consultant a broad and comprehensive set of resources to get a real and useful snapshot of your congregation’s health. It is not a magic pill; rather it serves as viable tool to see the truth about your congregation. For leaders, truth is our ally. Only when we face the truth can we also see the ways in which God desires for us to walk!

Blessings on your summer!

Dr. Carson Reed is Vice President for Church Relations at Abilene Christian University and Executive Director of the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry. He also serves as the Director for the Doctor of Ministry Program and holds the Frazer Endowed Chair for Church Enrichment in the Graduate School of Theology. Through the Siburt Institute, Carson does consulting work with congregations and church leaders across the country. His teaching and research centers on leadership, preaching, and issues surrounding faith and culture. Carson and his wife Vickie have been married for over 30 years and have four grown children.
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Author:  Publish Date: June 23, 2017

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CHARIS hosts conversations of and about Churches of Christ. The website is intended to support education for Christian life and community through contemporary discussions and historical sources that variously witness to the gifts (“charis”) of God among Churches of Christ, especially their plea for visible unity among Christians through ongoing renewal and restoration of Scriptural beliefs and practices among God’s people.

The CHARIS website is supported by Abilene Christian University (Abilene, TX, USA), the Center for Heritage and Renewal in Spirituality (CHARIS) at ACU. The purpose of CHARIS at ACU is to seek God’s blessings for a healthy relationship between the Christian college/university – its faculty, staff, and students – and the church heritage that gives identity and meaning to such a school. This underlying concern for Christian colleges/universities, and their relationship to the churches, is reflected in the form and content of the CHARIS website.

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