Reading Guide and Worksheet
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1. Overall Impressions
In a sentence or two, describe your overall impression of the Health Check Report.
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2. Setting
Beginning on page 5, the report describes the changing context of ministry, including new patterns of worship attendance and the growing sense of many who “assume [Christians] to be judgmental, hypocritical, homophobic, and inauthentic” (10). This description of setting leads to several ideas for growth based on the belief that “a strong progressive voice in the community is a positive distinguishing attribute that could be leveraged for growth” (9). What is your experience? How do your friends outside of the church talk about Christians? Do you agree that the key for growth is for our congregation to be known in QCA for our progressive voice?
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3. Facility and Location
In talking about the tendency of the congregation to sit in the back third of the sanctuary, the report says “it’s almost impossible to generate adequate energy or intimacy in worship with the congregation so scattered” (14). Do you agree, and do you think the congregation will agree to sit closer to the front?
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4. Hospitality
The Hospitality section (22-28) offers a lot for us to think about, but the key idea is that “One of the most challenging aspects of creating a culture of hospitality in any church is helping members to understand that they are ‘hosts’ not ‘guests’” (22). The section ends with a story of the experience of a “secret guest,” illustrating that like most churches “we are friendly to each other while ignoring new folks” (27). Does this story surprise you? How does the experience of this secret guest help you to see ways our hospitality satisfies longtime members rather than “[attracting] those yearning for a genuine encounter with the Holy, but who have not yet found that in a church” (22).
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5. Stewardship and Development
The analysis in this section is sobering, including this ominous prediction: “[The] failure of top-level leaders to take responsibility to raise the money needed will contribute to a downward spiral where less is done and less is given” (28). Moreover, the section includes charts (30) showing that we are a church in maintenance mode. However, the report goes on to say “This is a challenging, but not unusual, predicament. Most churches are finding that the strategies that motivated growth and generosity in the past do not work as well in our society today or for next generation givers. New strategies are required to set FCC on a path to membership growth and a financially sustainable future” (34-35). Do you agree with this analysis and how effective to you think the recommendations (31-32) were implemented in our church?
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6. Volunteer Engagement
This section includes two church vitality diagrams. Where would you place our congregation on the diagram on page 33? Do you agree with the placement of the church on the diagram on page 34? How do you respond to the sentence, “Management vs. ministry must be an immediate concern” (34).
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7. Branding, Marketing, and Evangelism
While, like most churches, we do a pretty good job communicating with our members, “new members in the wider community, for the most part, are never recipients of information about a local church or how they might be included in its life-changing projects (ministries)” 36. How did you learn about the church? Can you recall times when people from outside of the church participated in our ministries?
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8. Governance and Safe Church:
This section includes a focus on performance appraisal, which we tend to think apply only to paid staff: “An adequate performance appraisal system should include all employees and all those functioning as officers and leaders who have responsibility for achieving the vision and mission of the church. Job descriptions and annual goals should be based on how the individual or team (e.g. the Council) will contribute to achieving the vision and mission of the church that year (41). Do you agree that our Ministry Boards should appraise their performance? Do you consider such appraisals important, unnecessary, idealistic, other?
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9. Vision and Mission.
Do you agree that we “could do a better job of defining and promoting a contemporary vision and mission that inspires the congregation to boldly be the body of Christ in Moline and beyond; and to inspire the community to want to be a part of a church that is changing the world” (42-43)? Do you think our current mission “purpose) and vision are adequate (42)? Is it worth the time, trouble, and expense to redefine our mission and vision?
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10. Recommendations:
Finally, there are eight recommendations, pages 43-47. Please label each recommendation and sub-item as follows: 1-Urgent; 2-Important; 3-Needed; 4-Unimportant or Not Needed.
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