Types of Evaluations
According to the article Back from the Brink: A Leadership Special Report, 85% of churches (approximately 340,000) in the United States have plateaued or are in decline. This is a report from 2005. It is now believe that the number is more like 90-95%.
Membership numbers alone do not necessarily reflect the spiritual health of an individual church, but numbers can be one indicator.
Sometimes the problem is beyond the churches control. Economics and community decline must be considered, but often I have found there are two problems that must be looked at: First time visitor impressions, and church revitalization.
First Time Visitor Impressions
Over the years I have done several of these. This style evaluation deals with how a first time visitor perceives your church. In a way it is similar to "Mystery shopper" programs you may have heard about.
A church evaluator will come in under the guise of being a first time visitor to your church. An assortment of items are reviewed and a report is written up and given to the church.
This sort of evaluation is often requested by churches that are having no problems and want to stay ahead of the game, or a church that has just started to notice things are not quite right.
In Luke 18:8, Jesus asks the question "...when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? "A very relevant question for our day!
In his boot The Nuts and Bolts of Church Revitalization, Tom Cheyney reports that 3500 churches will close their doors each year, and that includes between 700 - 900 Baptist Churches.
I have only recently started doing this type of evaluation. This type of evaluation is normally requested by a church realizing that their time may be limited, and it will require a strong commitment from both pastors and members to turn things around (BTW, this is the type of church that I am praying the Lord will lead me to eventually serve).