Russ Crabtree, who developed the Church Assessment Tool into what it is today, proposed that a church’s vitality can be easily measured by discovering how church members answer two questions:
- How satisfied are you with what is happening in your church overall?
- What do you perceive is the level of energy and excitement in your church?
As a part of his work, however, he defines that satisfaction does not imply self-satisfaction. Rather, it carries a meaning of wholeness and health.
When members report experiencing their church as a healthy, growing place — and as a place with a high level of energy and excitement — you have a vital congregation.
But you cannot reach higher levels of satisfaction and energy by simply talking about them. They occur naturally as byproducts of other activities.
So what has his research revealed as the characteristics and activities of vital, healthy faith communities? They include the following areas.
- Vital worship
- Lifelong learning
- Spiritual formation that fits complex lifestyles
- An open leadership system
- Quality relationships
Each of these characteristics deserves a lengthy discussion, but for now, it is important to ask: “How would your church members assess these activities in your congregation?”
How To Get Started
Assessment tools such as the Congregation Assessment Tool, or CAT, are an essential way for a church to identify the perspectives, experiences and aspirations of its members in response to these characteristics.
Particularly with the CAT, we have seen over time how this in-depth scan of the congregation can reveal invisible dynamics and provide powerful insights through the Vital Signs Report. This often helps leaders make better decisions in less time and with more confidence.
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