A few years ago, I took some friends to one of my favorite churches,  Cathedral of Faith Family Praise Center, located about 45 minutes south of Atlanta in Forsyth, Georgia. We had barely pulled into the parking lot before we were embraced by their spirit of excellence. As we were walking through the parking lot, a family who were also heading in smiled warmly and greeted us. Then, a gentleman ran ahead of us to open the door, saying “welcome to Cathedral of Faith.” I knew from that moment that this was a church of excellence, and that the members and leaders alike were well trained.

Kudos to Apostle Vertise Rozier and all the staff, clergy, leaders and members of Cathedral of Faith for showing that excellence is indeed a standard.

It’s hard to really explain what excellence looks like in a church; it’s just one of those things that you recognize when you see it. Establishing excellence in a church is even harder since so many seem to disagree on what excellence is. I usually gauge how excellent a church is by how smoothly things run. Excellent churches should run like a well-oiled machine. Here is a quick survey to help you figure out if your church operates in excellence. Keep in mind, this isn’t a scientific survey. It’s pretty much just based on my insight and experience (like the rest of OIC).

  1. Is the exterior of your church (lawn, signage, building exterior, windows, steps, rails, parking lot, etc.) clean, well-maintained, well-lit and attractive?
  2. Can a first-time guest easily identify who the ushers are? Leaders? Clergy?
  3. Can a first-time guest easily identify where they should enter the parking lot, where they should park, which door they should enter, and where the restrooms are?
  4. Will a first-time guest find your church and common areas clean, tidy, well-lit and odor-free?
  5. Will a first-time guest find your members, volunteers, staff, and clergy to be smiling pleasantly and willing to assist with any basic needs (finding a place to breastfeed the baby, sharing information about upcoming services)?
  6. Does your service start on time and end at a reasonable hour? Is your church fluff-free or mostly fluff-free?
  7. Do you plan services, meetings, rehearsals, and other gatherings far enough in advance to get the word out in a timely fashion and to plan every detail to perfection?
  8. Are those who serve in ministry (in any capacity: youth, hospitality, clergy, administration, etc.) qualified to serve in the area in which they work?
  9. Does your church conduct regular and thorough internal training and development for all ministry workers?
  10. Does your church maintain an open and clear line of communication with its members?
  11. Do your ministries serve well? Do the choirs sound excellent? Musicians? Praise team? Do the ushers know how to usher? Altar workers? Announcement clerks? Are your staff, clergy, leaders and volunteers regularly evaluated for progress and growth?
  12. Is the chain of command clear within leadership, staff, clergy and members? Does everyone know who to go to with questions, concerns, and authorization, and what to do if they are dissatisfied with their outcome? Are the procedures clear (e.g. submitting announcements, requesting meeting space, planning an auxiliary event, joining an auxiliary, registering for a class)?
  13. Do you utilize media to add a more modern element to your ministry (video announcements, electronic newsletters, e-mail blasts, Facebook, Twitter, streaming services, an updated, professional, uncluttered and current website)?
  14. Does your worship service flow smoothly, without a glitch, from start to finish? Are all who are on the program in position on time and prepared to minister with excellence? If there is a presider or expediter, is s/he aware of who is doing what? Are the people who are on the program aware they are on the program?
  15. Do your ushers work diligently to minimize excessive walking, talking, eating or other irreverent behaviors in the sanctuary?
  16. Does the pastor (or other preacher) have a thoroughly prepared sermon each week?
  17. Has a sound check been performed before service?
  18. Is everything your church does, carried out to the very best of your ability? (Programs, flyers, services, church bulletins, newsletters, conferences, trainings, Sunday School classes, correspondence, planning, etc.).
  19. Does your church have an annual budget? Are your bills, invoices, payroll, and other obligations paid on time? Does your church conduct regular internal and/or external audits?
  20. Do you adhere to the laws that govern non-profit organizations, and obtain outside counsel or professional advice when you don’t know what the law is?

If you answered “yes” to all 20 questions, it sounds to me like your church is pretty excellent. Kudos to you for making the body of Christ look good!

If you answered “yes” to 15-19 questions, I’d say you’re pretty close. Keep up the good work, and strive to do better.

If you answered “yes” to 10-15 questions, not bad, but you definitely have room for improvement, in my opinion. I suggest you develop a plan to perfect those areas that are lacking, and make haste to implement the plan!

If you answered “yes” to fewer than 10 questions, your church is probably just focused on the worship aspect of service, and not the logistics. If you’re happy where you are, carry on.  If not, give me a call and let’s get you on the path to excellence.

If your church practices excellence, tell me about it. I’d love to hear what excellence looks like in different churches.