Measuring a Church’s Relational Health
“We are a friendly church.” This is a statement that has been used by most churches. The reality is that while some churches have appeared friendly during “meet and greet” times, they have no effort made towards integration and fellowship. A church with a warm greeting may still have a cold fellowship. Churches with a cold fellowship are more likely to face a declining attendance, as people no longer feel cared for by the leadership or other members in the congregation. Therefore, measuring a church’s relational health becomes increasingly important.
Relational health has been defined as different things throughout the years. In the book, Who Cares About Love (Arn, NyQuist, and Arn, 1988), the relational atmosphere in a church is pictured as the Love/Care Quotient (LCQ). That research shown that there was a direct relationship that exists between being perceived as a relationally healthy church and a growing church. It was found that growing churches showed a significantly higher LCQ than other churches that had been declining for five years, regardless of denomination. All of that together shows that churches that are lacking in love and care from leadership to members are usually declining. Healthy relationships attract people and a lack of healthy relationships repels.
Still, what defines healthy relationships? Biblically speaking, healthy relationships centers in on a single word, “oneness.” For example, Ephesians 4:3-6 reads,
“Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
In this passage we are immediately drawn to the repetitious use of word, “one.” Seven times in these four verses the word is used to remind the Ephesian believers of the oneness that is in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. So what does oneness look like? It implies closeness in proximity and togetherness in thinking, action, and goals. Therefore, creating an atmosphere that healthy relationships can flourish is vital for overall church health and growth. In the book, Comeback Churches, Ed Stetzer writes about promoting fellowship, “Intentionally connecting people in community is not an option for the church. It’s a biblical mandate—the essence of what it means to be the body of Jesus Christ” (2010, p. 151).
Measuring Relational Health
Now that we have a basic understanding for what healthy church relationships looks like we can begin to measure the relational health. We will do this through two primary methods, hard data collection and surveys. This will give a church a good starting foundation for understanding the state of their relational health.
- The first piece of hard data to collect would be looking at what material has been brought to before the church to teach them about love, congregational care, and fellowship. This would be sermons topic and in a series. Small groups and Sunday school curriculums. A key point in understanding the churches relational health can be found in whether it is a teaching topic during the last two or three years.
- The next piece would be statistical data. The data collected would be the average worship attendance compared to the number of individuals that attend small groups. Small groups could range from Sunday school classes, home groups, teen youth groups, and others. Small groups are a place where intentional relationships are built and an excellent place to grow healthy.
- The last piece would be knowing how many people arrive to the church fifteen minutes early to fellowship and don’t leave for at least 15 minutes after service. This wouldn’t include those that have to prepare for the service and clean up afterwards (most of the time) but those that are there early and are leaving late after the service because they desire to communicate with others. The time spent in worship does not provide a time for intimate Christian fellowship (it is important to worship together though) but the time before and after can.
This simple seven-question survey would be sufficient to give first time guests and entrenched members. While it would be best to remain anonymous, it would be important to also include space to obtain the persons age, and how long they have attended, martial status, and such in order to gain an understanding about different demographics relations also (These were adapted from, Who Cares About Love).
- Were you greeted at the front door?
- If you had children with you, were you told about Children’s church and the church nursery?
- If you are a current attender are you currently involved in a small group (Sunday School, youth group, home group, bible study, etc) through the church?
- On a scale of 1 – 10, how loved do you feel the pastor cares for the members?
- On a scale of 1 – 10, how loved do you feel the members care for other members?
- If you are in a small group, on a scale of 1 – 10, how loved do feel in your group?
- If you are a member, on a scale of 1 – 10, how loving do you feel that you have been to first time guests or new members?
Arn, Win. Nyquist, Carroll. Arn, Charles. (1988). Who Cares About Love? Church Growth Press. Lakewood, Colorado
Stetzer, Ed; Dodson, Mike (2010). Comeback Churches. B&H Books. Kindle Edition.