Having outlined the philosophy of ‘pursuing excellence’ we shall now look at the process of carrying out a Ministry Health Check with a ministry team.
1. How long does it take?
Two days, or the equivalent, are needed for the process to be carried out. This may seem a lot of time but to lessen it loses much of the benefit.
2. Initial discussion and information gathering
On day 1 I work with the ministry team and facilitate discussions based on statements that are graded individually by each participant according to the extent to which they feel that statement applies to the ministry from their perspective. These statements relate to vision, team support, handling of finances, relationship with the church, and so on. There is always a range of responses. This helps lead to a constructive and sometimes amusing discussion as to why there are the different assessments.
I seek to get all members of the team to ‘open up’ in a non-threatening and affirming way to consider each of the issues raised from his or her perspective. This often raises unexpected issues that need addressing. I do not myself give direct input (occasional exceptions to this rule!) but help the team members to identify the key issues for discussion and action. This helps ownership and follow through of the Action Plan that is written on Day 2.
Throughout the discussion I make notes, which are agreed with the team, on large sheets of paper, particularly highlighting suggestions made by the team of changes they would like to make.
3. Who takes part?
All active members of the ministry team should be involved. Often the ‘junior’ ones contribute aspects that the leadership may not be aware of, so all have a contribution to make. It is important that the leader of the ministry does not dominate the discussion and I set rules at the start, such as everyone being equal in this context and whatever is contributed is accepted, not judged.
8-10 people is a good size. If there are more than 12 the process can become too drawn out and some will find it hard to participate.
I do not encourage church elders to take part in the whole Health Check unless they are personally involved in the ministry; they can inhibit others from speaking even if not intended. However, it is helpful for an elder to attend for the beginning of the first session to get a feel of the process, and then to be present for the whole of the Action Planning to ensure that what is planned is practical within the overall context of the church’s ministry.
Next time we shall look at how to handle the suggestions that have been made to improve the ministry and how to develop an Action Plan.