How to Replant a Church, Part 2: Assessing Your Church in 4 Steps

Bubba Jennings » Mission Worship Church Church Leadership Church Planting

How to Replant a Church, Part 2: Assessing Your Church in 4 Steps

Replanting a church is hard. After you have a clear vision, one of the hardest things to do as a pastor is soberly assess the church you lead. It’s hard because it requires a great deal of humility. It’s hard because ministry is personal. And it’s hard because sometimes, the truth hurts.

I have a friend who once fell asleep while driving on the highway in Oklahoma. When he woke up, he was driving through a field full of cows. Thankfully, he woke up to reality before any people or cows died.

Over time, pastors get tired, over-burdened, and too comfortable with mediocrity. When this happens, it’s like they are asleep at the wheel. Doing a church assessment gives a much-needed wake-up call to reality.

Work on Your Ministry

Be warned; assessment of your church will expose the good, the bad, and the ugly. For many pastors this is painful, because any criticism feels like a personal attack. But if you are willing to take a step back from working in the ministry to assess your church, you will do your church a great service. What you learn will enable you to better love and lead the people entrusted to your care.

Pastors sometimes need to step back from working in the ministry and start working on the ministry.

Over the years, I have done countless church assessments. Like all pastors, I need a fresh perspective on the church I lead. When I’m in the everyday blur of ministry, it’s easy for me to develop blind spots. For this reason, I regularly conduct evaluations on my leadership and our church.

Four Steps to Assess Your Church

Before I stepped into the role of lead pastor at Mars Hill Federal Way—which is now Mars Hill Tacoma—I conducted a full assessment of the church. Doing this helped me understand where the church was and what needed to happen for us to replant the church. If you are considering replanting your church, I strongly recommend that you follow the four-step process I used.

1. Experience a worship service

There is no better way to take the temperature of a church than to visit a church service as a guest. The worship gathering tells you a lot about the health of a church. From the service you should be able to understand the church’s mission and what they care about. Additionally, this experience gives you a perspective of what it is like for a non-Christian to visit.

If it’s impossible for you to visit a service without being seen and known, ask a local pastor friend to do it for you. Have them observe every aspect of the experience and give you feedback.

Here is a list of questions for doing an assessment of a worship service:


  • Was the church easy to find?
  • How was parking? Was there clear parking signage?
  • How were you greeted? Were people friendly? Did anyone notice that you were a guest? If so, what did they say and do?
  • Did you get a first-time visitor packet or anything that stated the vision of the church?
  • Were different areas of the building (such as restrooms and children’s area) clearly marked?
  • Was it clear where to go to get connected? Were you invited to get more connected to the church? If so, what were the next steps?
  • Was there coffee, water, or other refreshments? How was the quality?
  • Did the building feel clean and welcoming?


  • What was the worship music like?
  • What style of music?
  • Based on the style, what level was the quality of the music? How was the volume?
  • Did the worship leader model worship to the congregation?
  • Could you sing along?
  • Did you feel comfortable participating?

Teaching and Leadership

  • What was the sermon like?
  • Was the sermon topical or exegetical?
  • Was the message clear, biblical, and compelling?
  • Did you hear the gospel message proclaimed?
  • Were you invited to salvation in Jesus?
  • Who was the pastor (or pastors) of the church?
  • Did the pastor make a good first impression?
  • Could you see yourself following the pastor?
  • Were you able to understand the church’s mission and values? If so, what are they?


  • What was the kids program like?
  • Was the kids check-in area clean and functional?
  • Did the check-in process go smoothly? Did anyone help you check in?
  • Did anyone give you a tour of the kids area and explain the program?
  • Was there security in the kids area?
  • Was the kids program Christ-centered, and did they teach the Bible?
  • Was the kids program fun and safe?


  • Was the overall experience poor, good, or great? Did anything happen in the service that was awkward or made you feel unwelcomed?
  • Would you go back to this church again? Could you see yourself being committed to this church body? If not, why not?

Be warned; assessment of your church will expose the good, the bad, and the ugly.

2. Get feedback from volunteer leaders and volunteers

Most Christians deeply care about their church and want it to be healthy. Oftentimes, problems continue or opportunities are missed because no one asks the volunteer leaders and volunteers for feedback. It’s wise to seek feedback from your leaders and volunteers at least twice a year.

Here are the questions I ask volunteer leaders and volunteers:

  • What is the mission of the church? This lets you see if everyone is on the same page.
  • Do you understand your role? You would be surprised how many people don’t understand their role and with a little clarity go from being ineffective and frustrated to highly effective and joyful.
  • What additional training do you need? When you ask this question, people will tell you where they feel ill-equipped. Resolving bad training or no training is incredibly important. I will talk more about how to equip volunteers and leaders in a future post.
  • What is working well in your area of ministry? This question helps you see what they are excited about and what is healthy about this ministry.
  • What isn’t working well in your area of ministry? This question helps you see what is hindering this ministry, especially in regard to resources and processes.
  • What needs to change and why? I love to ask this question because it gives room for them to write anything down. More than once I’ve been surprised by the suggestions for change or completely new ideas.
  • If you could only do one thing to improve the church, what would you do and why? This question gives people the opportunity to be innovative. I’ve gotten a lot of great ideas by asking this question. Also, when someone gives a solution to a problem, you can follow up with them and encourage them to implement the solution.
  • Are you being cared for by your overseeing leader? This question assumes they have an overseeing leader. Sometimes volunteers have no one to care for them, which is a problem. If this is a problem area, you can follow up with more questions to discover how to better care for people.

Oftentimes, problems continue or opportunities are missed because no one asks the volunteer leaders and volunteers for feedback.

3. Do a 360-degree evaluation for each staff member

Evaluations can be done for paid staff or volunteers who have a significant leadership role. A 360-degree evaluation is a performance review that includes feedback from peers and from those who are under the staff member’s care. Have the staff member’s overseer do an evaluation, have two peer evaluations, and have three people under their leadership give feedback.

This evaluation should focus on the staff member’s ability to do the following:

  • Share the vision with others
  • Create clear expectations and goals for themselves and the people they lead
  • Communicate information
  • Lead by example
  • Shepherd and care for those under their leadership
  • Contribute to the mission and produce results

4. Do a SWOT analysis of the church

A SWOT analysis (created by the late management consultant Albert Humphrey) is a common business practice that can help you determine a church’s overall health. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Use the SWOT analysis to evaluate each area of ministry in your church. To make SWOT work for a church context, I have tweaked the concept a little.

  • Strengths: Aspects of the ministry that move the mission forward and are healthy.
  • Weaknesses: Aspects of the ministry that could contribute to the mission but need to be improved.
  • Opportunities: New ideas or areas of ministry that will contribute to mission and contribute to health.
  • Threats: Aspects of the ministry that are causing unhealthiness and must be stopped immediately.

In the everyday blur of ministry, it’s easy to develop blind spots. For this reason, I regularly conduct evaluations on my leadership and our church.

SWOT analyses can be intimidating at first, but here are four steps I use that I hope will help you conduct a SWOT analysis yourself:

  1. Gather the staff and key leaders in your church.
  2. Get a whiteboard and make a list of everything the church does on the whiteboard. Write down every program, every ministry, every department—everything.
  3. Draw a big square in the middle of the whiteboard, and in each corner write an S, W, O, or T.
  4. Discuss each item from your list, and then place it in the box where it belongs.

You determine where each item goes by asking three questions:

  1. Does this program or ministry contribute to our vision and mission? If so, how?
  2. Is this area of our church healthy? Why or why not?
  3. What programs or ministries are we doing solely for the sake of tradition? What could we do if we stopped doing a particular program or ministry?

Doing the SWOT analysis requires brutal honesty about your church. If a church is in decline, the hard reality is that things need to change. The SWOT will help you see clearly what needs to change.



Stay tuned for more posts in this series in the coming weeks as we cover the practical details of replanting a church, including how to motivate people for the mission, raise funds, recruit volunteers, and more.


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