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Curator Tim Shapiro
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Five Things to Know about Assessments

Assessment tools are used in congregational planning. Such tools are helpful in strategic planning, formation of new programs, improvement of existing projects and more.

There are internal assessment tools and external assessment tools. Internal tools help you learn about your congregation, its members, staff and other constituents who are part of your congregation. External tools help you learn more about your neighborhood and the community around you.

Here are five things to keep in mind when thinking about using assessment tools.


  1. Surveys that you create yourself are not typically reliable. You often receive opinions rather than good data. Plus, surveys that you create yourself do not typically have additional data sets to which you can compare the information you gather. So, I do not recommend surveys that you create. 

  2. Look for tools that have data sets that you can use as comparisons to the information you gather. This is especially true for internal assessments. 

  3. Tools that measure strengths are helpful because you can connect the data to your congregation’s capacity and passion. Assessments that focus on problems or weaknesses can be dispiriting. It is typically more productive to fortify strengths than to try to fix weaknesses. 

  4. It is natural to feel overwhelmed when you receive information from assessments. Don’t try to interpret all of it at once. Start with the data that most closely relates to your original reason for using the assessment tool. Go back to your original questions. Set your original questions alongside the data. What behaviors come to mind? What action steps get generated? In other words, allow yourself only so much time figuring out the data. Go with what generates the most energy and discern what actions, however small, might be first steps. 

  5. Assessment tools should help conversation along. They are not the lasts word. The conversation you have about the results of the assessment is more important than the data. You know the tool is helping you when it leads you to a really good face-to-face conversation. 

     

web resource
Church Assessment Tool (CAT)
This congregational assessment from Holy Cow Consulting provides benchmark data to inform decisions about identity, clergy search, strategic planning or a financial campaign.
web resource
Church Planter Candidate Assessment
This assessment helps potential church planters and their respective organizations identify strengths and development needs for both parties to discern the possibility of a church planting role.
web resource
Church Health Assessment Tool (CHAT)
This survey is designed to be used during times of change, periods of new development, and when a congregation is beginning a strategic planning process.
article
Reaching Out to Singles Assessment Pack
This training pack contains eight stand-alone assessment tools designed to guide conversations on congregational practices and attitudes that can make or break an effective singles ministry.
article
Institutional Self-Assessment Tool for LGBTQ Inclusion
This comprehensive checklist helps congregations measure how well they include LGBTQ people and their needs. It covers environment, policies, programming, and publicity.
article
The Church Leader's Guide to Personality and Performance Assessments
This article reviews a variety of personality assessments for congregations considering using the assessments in the hiring process or to nurture teamwork.
web resource
Chapter 3: Assessing Community Needs and Resources
This web resource helps answer questions about how to better engage your congregation with the local community by providing various resources and toolkits.
article
Using Facilities Assessments: A Resource from the Center for Congregations
This brief guide gives readers an introduction to facilities assessment and addresses what to do with the completed assessment.
book
Plan 4 It: The 4 Essential Master Plans for Every Church
This book outlines how to strategically plan your building project by sharing practical wisdom and planning tools that consider your ministry, finances, and sustainability.
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