When I do a church consultation, I usually want to know if pastoral leaders know the answers to the questions below. Too often, they don’t – and that finding usually coincides with finding a church that is inwardly focused.
1. Is your community growing, stagnant, or declining? This question ought to be an easy one, but I’m surprised by how many pastors aren’t sure of the answer.
2. What is the ethnic makeup of your community? It’s hard to reach a community you don’t really know.
3. What percentage of your community does not look like your church? Many pastors assume their congregation reflects the community, but that’s not always accurate.
4. What’s the age demographic of your community? In many cases, pastors are shocked when they learn how young their community is (primarily because their church is older).
5. What’s the fastest growing age segment of your community’s population? Pastors who can’t answer that question usually aren’t thinking strategically about the future.
6. How many people in your community attend church every Sunday? This answer is usually easier to find than the number of unchurched people in your community – but it answers both questions.
7. How many languages are spoken in homes in your community? You might be surprised by this answer. Just because people speak English in public doesn’t mean that’s the language they use every day – or the language in which they would most prefer to worship.
8. What’s the average household income in your community? Sometimes it’s quite different than the assumed average income in the church, reminding us again that our congregations don’t always reflect our community.
9. What is the name of the primary political leader in your community? Maybe it’s a council chairperson, a mayor, or someone with another title; regardless of the position, though, you should know this person.
10. What’s the growth goal/plan for the community in the next decade? Pastors who are thinking about the future know this information.
What questions would you add? How many of these questions can you answer?
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Chuck Lawless is dean and vice-president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. This column was originally published at chucklawless.com. Used with permission.)