The idea of having someone evaluate you as a leader and pastor or evaluate the ministry of your church can be frightening and intimidating. Who in their right mind would invite personal or ministry critique? Some would argue that we should not evaluate the church or its people because it is a spiritual, not a secular, undertaking. Only God should appraise a spiritual ministry such as a church. I would argue that we must not allow fear and personal feelings of intimidation to get in the way of honest, objective feedback. That a ministry is a spiritual endeavor is more an argument for than against healthy critique.
Far too many churches have offered up ministry mediocrity under the guise of "it's a spiritual undertaking for God." Scripture encourages God's people to give and do their best for him. Israel was to bring their best animals for sacrifice (Lev. 22:2022; Num. 18:2930). When they did not bring the best, it was an indication that their hearts had wandered from God (Mal. 1:68). In Ephesians 6:58 and Colossians 3:2324, Paul teaches that God expects us to give only our best in our work. We are to do our work as if we are working for God. When Jesus turned the water into wine at Cana, it was the best, not mediocre, wine (John 2:10). If God gave his best for us when he gave his Son, (John 3:16), how can we not give our best for him?
Even if a church doesn't invite critique, it takes place. It takes place every Sunday on an informal level. People are very discriminating. On the way home from church, a husband naturally asks his wife, "What did you think about the sermon?" Or, "Do you like the new Sunday school class?" Some go so far as to have roast pastor or roast church for Sunday lunch. Seeker church pastors are quick to remind us that when lost people visit our services, they do so with a critical eye. If ministry evaluation takes place on an informal level, why not move it to a formal level so that we can benefit from it rather than be a victim of it?
Every leader should ask, Am I evaluating my ministry effectiveness and do we evaluate the effectiveness of the church? Personal ministry and church ministry appraisal are necessary to refine any work for God. When you avoid honest, objective assessment, you are opting for comfort over courage and ministry mediocrity over meaningful ministry.
Evaluation is not foreign to the Scriptures. While no examples exist in the New Testament of a church passing out some kind of performance appraisal, that does not mean that they did not appraise their people and ministries, nor does it mean that we do not have the freedom to do so.
In 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Paul gives the qualifications for deacons and elders. That means that some kind of evaluation was made or such qualifications would not have made sense. In 1 Corinthians 11:28, Paul preached healthy self-examination to the members of the church at Corinth. He encouraged them to examine themselves before taking the Lord's Supper. This would result in the proper proclaiming of the Lord's death (v. 26) and preclude judgment (w. 2932). Again, in 2 Corinthians 13:56, he tells the people of the church to examine and test themselves to see whether they are in the faith. To fail such a test would have been a calamity. But he seems to indicate that not to test oneself would be an even greater calamity. Just as an unwillingness to measure one's spiritual condition makes spiritual growth nearly impossible, so failure to measure a church's effectiveness makes its growth nearly impossible.