3 Ways to Assess Members
At first glance, the word “assess” sounds devious and dangerous. Other words could be used: evaluate, appraise, rate or measure. But those are weird also.
When I use the word “assess” I use it in this manner: to assess a member of the church is to assess them by looking at their spiritual gifts, their personality trait, their passions, their past ministry experience and other things. The goal of an assessment (of these things) is to help the church member see how God has designed him/her for service and to assist him/her in getting involved in a church ministry or ministries that best fit him/her. With that definition in mind, the word “assess” takes on a most positive meaning and purpose.
3 Ways to Do Member Assessments
Yes, there at least 3 different ways to do assessments with members. A church needs to be very careful which one they choose; it could mean the difference between sweet success and bitter failure.
Simply put, self-assessment is the church member attempting to interpret his/her inventory findings. Having attempted to do this, he/she must next attempt to discover what ministry or ministries that best fit his/her inventory findings. The problem with this way of assessing is that most members don’t have the special training to know about gifts, passions, etc. and how to interpret them plus many members do not know much about the ministries of the local church (their purpose and related details). I am not saying (all) members cannot assess themselves; I am saying that in most cases, most church members are not acquainted with any of these things and are thus unable to properly handle all this new information. With the self-assessment, there is no guidance from wiser, more informed folks.
There is also no incentive to fill out the inventories in a timely manner and there is no one to follow up to see if the inventories have been done and ministries have been chosen (unless someone has been assigned). Too much responsibility is placed upon the individual church member for this to work well. Yes, there will always be a handful of members who are disciplined enough to do it this way. However, in all (kind) honesty, most members are not disciplined enough to do all these things on their own.
This means of assessment is a step up from self-assessment but it too, has its issues. Church assessment is when members fill out the inventories and turn them into someone who been assigned that responsibility. That (other) person then decides when a member is needed for a ministry. In other words, the member who filled out the inventories may or may not be used in any ministry in the church. This is counter-productive and it is not the original purpose of doing the inventories. In many cases, this priceless information (that the member has willingly provided) will end up on a data base or in a file drawer never to see the light of day. If a member does the inventories and if a member chooses to work in a ministry or ministries, that member should be put to work immediately. This is how ministry grows. Church assessment puts too much responsibility upon the person collecting the information; he/she decides who gets to serve and who doesn’t–and when—if ever. This method could be modified to be more effective, however, the following is really the way to go.
This, I believe is the best approach. What is it? When we do I Serve U programs, we will train a limited number of members to become coaches. The coaches guide members through the process of discovering new things about themselves (e.g. spiritual gifts, passions, etc.). Coaches interpret the findings of the inventories, give definitions, ask questions, make suggestions and basically assist the member in finding church ministry that best fits him/her. The coach then fills out a form about the member (that he/she has interviewed) and gives it to the appropriate deacons and ministry leaders (these are the folks in whose ministry/ministries the ‘coached’ member would be serving). This means of assessment truly empowers the church member to be what God designed him/her to be/do. The coaches may also take on the responsibility to ‘follow up’ to make sure the member is serving, that the deacon did put the member to work, and to continue to encourage the member and to make recommendations.
Above all else that could be said for coach assessing, the best thing that can be said is this: it invests in people. It is a form of mentoring that creates new relationships that will bless the church for now and eternity. Our greatest asset is the church membership (the people that have been entrusted to us) and our greatest responsibility to them is helping them grow in their relationships with the Lord and each other. Coaching is worth it because people are worth it. They are worth the time, the prayer, the energy, the effort and yes, the money.
Questions? The Bible says to do all things decently and in order. This is what we attempt to do with the I Serve U program. Our goal is to do more than just put members in ministry; it is to grow the church numerically and spiritually. If we can serve you, please contact us.
Travis Irwin, involvement minister
Athens, TN firstname.lastname@example.org
www.churchinvolvement.com 423 920 3060