A new Barna Group study has been released examining what pastors of Protestant churches are planning to do to improve their churches. In my opinion, no other group has a handle on what is going on in the evangelical world like the Barna Group. I usually read what they publish.
This particular study asked pastors across the nation what they planned to do over the next 12 months to improve their ministries. The research presented the pastors with 12 possible activities and then asked them to rate the priority of each activity. Below is a list of those 12 activities:
- Assess your church’s vision and mission.
- Assess your church’s reputation in the community.
- Measure the demographic and spiritual needs of your community.
- Be more focused on safety and security issues at your church.
- Revamp your budgeting and spending process.
- Conduct an assessment of spiritual transformation in your church.
- Invest in facilities and equipment for children.
- Invest in audio and visual equipment.
- Invest in facilities and equipment for youth/teenagers.
- Invest in technology and digital media.
- Work with an organization to help increase giving.
- Find a search firm to help you hire the right staff person.
The study then looked at the responses, breaking down the most popular by church size. The study had three categories according to church size: (1) Small (under 100); (2) Medium (100-250); and (3) Large (251-plus).
It’s an interesting study and I encourage everyone to read it. Again, let me repeat that I am a huge fan of the Barna Group.
At first glance, I liked the research and the 12 possible activities. But upon closer examination, something occurred to me: All the activities were about the organization, not the kingdom, and most of the activities had to do with ministries inside the church facilities. Nothing was mentioned about moving outside the church property.
In my humble opinion, the best way to improve your church’s ministries is to move outside the walls of the church. Audio and visual equipment is important, but so is serving the poor. Hiring the right staff person is important, but so is showing up at the next city meeting and standing up for more affordable housing in the community. Improving safety and security at church is important, but so is helping a single mom on disability pay her rent and utilities.
Most churches’ ministries don’t need to be improved. They need to be thrown out and a paradigm shift needs to take place. It’s not about your vision, mission and facilities. It’s about the kingdom of God being present in the here and now.