November 2018 E-news from the Siburt Institute

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With more and more churches utilizing the Siburt Institute’s Church Health Assessment (CHA), our researchers have been able to identify emerging trends in a statistically reliable way. Now that 18 congregations have used the CHA to learn more about members’ perceptions and attitudes, what are the top two strengths and the top two areas of struggle common among these churches? We invite you to find out from this excerpt of a Mosaic article by ACU’s Dr. Suzie Macaluso (pictured), one of the experts who developed the CHA.


What the Church Health Assessment Is Teaching Us

There has long been a need for a tool that Churches of Christ could use to assess the health of their congregations. Numerous survey instruments exist, but they lack the ability to address issues that are specific to Churches of Christ. Working with Dr. Carley Dodd (’70), we constructed the Church Health Assessment (CHA) to fill this need.

What has the CHA told us about churches? To date the CHA has been used in 18 congregations ranging in size from 70 members to nearly 1,000. The survey has been used in congregations in Texas, Oklahoma, Canada and California. The congregations using the CHA have been predominantly white, with more older members, and few members who were new to the congregation.

The major areas of struggle for churches surveyed have been family life stages and congregational culture and values. Participants are asked about ministries and programs targeting various stages of life, including children, teens, young adults and intergenerational ministry. They are asked about overall attitudes toward these groups, along with their perceptions of how well the church is meeting their needs. Within this factor, we see that many congregations lack sufficient parenting programs, and that singles and young adults/professionals do not feel as if they belong or are included in the congregation. We also see that the congregation understands the importance of children and youth, but that the youth group is rarely thriving and the children’s ministry also is an area of weakness. Many of the congregations surveyed also showed a lack of sufficient multigenerational activities.

Participants also are asked about the morale of the congregation, whether frustrations are present, how easy it is to recruit and maintain volunteers, membership growth and decline, and tension felt in the congregation. Many CHA respondents report that their congregations are not very open to change and that any changes that are made have led to some people leaving. Churches find it difficult to recruit and keep volunteers, and their morale is low. Most of the churches that have completed the CHA have seen substantial decline in the past five years with few new members added. However, those who are still there are very loyal and committed to one another, and to the church and its mission.

It’s not all bad news for congregations though! Several areas of flourishing are evident in these 18 congregations. In particular, churches seem to be doing well in spiritual formation and discipleship and church relationships.

Click here to read more on Mosaic.

Dr. Suzie Macaluso


Ministry in Times of Illness and Loss workshop comes to Arlington in February

Church leaders are invited to a special one-day workshop in Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 23. The workshop, titled “Ministry in Times of Illness and Loss,” is co-sponsored by the Siburt Institute and Lifeline Chaplaincy. Topics include:

  • Being a Caring Presence in Difficult Situations
  • Making Effective Hospital Visits
  • Helping Those With Chronic Illness
  • Sojourning With Those in Grief
  • Supporting Families Dealing With Dementia and Alzheimer’s
  • Learning to Listen Pastorally to Families in Crisis
  • Care for the Caregivers (Including Church Leaders)

Registration information will be available soon through the Siburt Institute website. Also, read more from Dr. Virgil Fry (’74), executive director of Lifeline Chaplaincy, in a recent Mosaic blog post.

Make your voice heard on the 2019 Ministers’ Salary Survey

The Siburt Institute will launch the 2019 Ministers’ Salary Survey email campaign in late January. Dr. Carley Dodd (’70), Siburt Institute research director and ACU communications professor emeritus, will lead the process again for the upcoming year. The survey gathers information about current levels of compensation for ministers in Churches of Christ throughout the U.S. For this survey, “minister” includes any person paid by a congregation for ministerial work, including but not limited to such roles as preaching, youth, children and executive. We will publish results on our website by May 1. If you would like to participate in the 2019 survey, please complete this brief online form to ensure that you receive the invitation to participate.

“Why Preaching Matters!” with Rick Atchley video now available

Earlier this year, Rick Atchley (’78), senior teaching minister at The Hills Church in North Richland Hills (Texas), delivered a powerful message on “Why Preaching Matters!” At a sold out Siburt Institute Lunch and Learn event, Atchley spoke on why he believes preaching remains at the core of the Christian experience and shared his passion for the verbal witness of the kingship and lordship of Christ. Widely known for his ministry to ministers and for pouring himself into developing preachers for the next generation, Atchley has been in ministry for nearly 40 years. A video of Atchley’s presentation has been posted to the Siburt Institute YouTube Channel. Enjoy!



  • “Kindness is a condition of life, an attitude of the mind, and a disposition of our affections. It costs no money, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. Kindness can be expressed in every interaction. Our kindness toward others initiates inexhaustible ripples of grace and healing that only God in heaven can track.” – Don McLaughlin, Love First: Ending Hate Before It’s Too Late
  • “Our failures and our scars in faith are part of maturity. It is absolutely useless to wish for the faith of yesterday. Daring faith is real today, scars and all. … Scars become the stuff of our faith today and tomorrow.” – Randy Harris and Greg Taylor, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John

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