Implementing "Real Time" Church Health Assessment

By Dick Loizeaux

An annual church health assessment is important. But is it enough? Not by a long shot.

I track my exercise and diet between annual physicals so I don’t have to tell my wife I got a bad doctor's report. I pay attention to the health of my marriage between my anniversary dates so my anniversary will not be spent dealing with a long list of disappointments. I try to give staff performance feedback between annual performance reviews so nothing in the annual review will shock or surprise them. You probably do those things as well, don’t you? We all know intuitively that an annual review evaluation is not enough. So why do we think an annual church health evaluation is enough?

The pace of change in America makes annual church health evaluations important but insufficient. We need something more. We need constant feedback and constant adjustment if our churches are to thrive and grow.

That is why effective pastors practice “Real Time Assessment” (RTA).

Four Question Real Time Assessment
RTA is as simple as 4 quick questions. Three are the same for every event or ministry. One is tailored to the specific event or ministry you are assessing.

The three questions that are always the same are:

What did you like the most?
What could we improve?
What else would you like to tell us/me?

Learn those 3 questions and you can apply them to almost every situation to get the feedback to make a real time assessment.

But there is another question. It should actually be the first question because it is the most important question. It is a question designed to measure whatever you identify as a “win” for that ministry or event. Forming the question forces you to be clear about what your goal is and enables you to get
useful feedback. 

Four Question RTA In Action

For example, what is the “win” when a visitor attends your your Sunday Worship Service? Turn that “win” into a question. It might be “What was your first impression?” or “Did our service connect you with God?” or “Did the service impact your life?” or “Did you feel welcomed?” 

Whatever your “win” is, take that and make it the first question on your “Guest Response Card.” Then add the other 3 questions below it. 

So a Guest Response Card that enables you to do Real Time Assessment would read something like:

1. “What was your first impression?”
2. “What did you like the most?”
3. “What could we improve?”
4. “What else would you like to tell us/me?“ 

Either make it an attachment to your first time visitors email, or include a stamped, return addressed Guest Response postcard with your first time visitor letter.  Say something like “We are so glad you visited us last Sunday! We would love to know your reactions because we are always striving to improve our ministries. Would you take 30 seconds to fill out the enclosed evaluation for us?” Maybe tell them if they bring the card with them the next Sunday you will have a gift for them. 

Using Four Question RTA Everywhere

Now that you understand the “Four Question RTA” process, look for all the different places you can use it to get real time feedback. You can use it to evaluate adult Sunday School classes; seminars; small groups; Newcomers Luncheons; outreach events; Sunday Worship Services; Membership Classes; almost any ministry in the church. Use it as an evaluation form at the end of every event or every ministry
program season.

You can even use the questions periodically to get feedback on your staff meetings or elders meetings. Determine your “win” for the meeting and then get verbal feedback on the 4 questions:

1.  “Do you think this meeting was valuable or productive?” or “Does everyone feel listened to and understood?” or “Do you think we accomplished what we needed to?” or “Was this meeting a good use of your time?” or “Do you feel good about the outcome of this meeting?
2.  “What did you like the most?”
3.  “What could we improve?”
4.  “What else would you like to tell me?“ 

Assessing After The Feedback

The “Four Question Real Time Assessment” is a powerful tool to get accurate, honest, timely feedback. But that is only the first step of assessment. The second step is to pay close attention to the feedback. Analyze it. Try to determine why people answered the way they did. Then ask God to show you what you should do with that information.

1. Does this identify a strength we can leverage? How?
2. Does this identify a weakness we need to correct? How?
3. Does this identify a spiritual issue we need to pay attention to. How?
4. Does this identify a lack of understanding of our identity or values or of the purpose of this event? If so how can we improve understanding in that area? 

Got it? Four Question Real Time Feedback. Four Question Real Time Assessment. Build it into your routine and it will keep your church improving between annual church health assessments so that each annual assessment will look better than the last. And wouldn’t that be encouraging?











Church Plant Articles, Church Health, Dick Loizeaux