The Congregation Assessment Tool (CAT) is an instrument that assesses the perspectives, experiences, and aspirations of members. We consistently emphasize that when the CAT is used in a planning process, it needs to be supplemented by intelligence from the environment. In our consulting work, we collect this intelligence through community demographic data as well as interviews, focus groups, and town meetings with community members and leaders.
In what sense is the CAT a “missional” assessment?
First, a positive climate in a church is prerequisite to missional initiatives. Few things are more disturbing in a church’s organizational intelligence (OI)
than to see that only a third of the members are satisfied, but their highest priority is reaching others. Creating more dissatisfied members is counter-missional.
Second, the CAT gives us a reliable read on the missional flexibility of a church, that is, its ability to fulfill its mission without having to invest inordinate amounts of energy to manage conflict.
Third, the CAT gives us insight into where members are focusing their attention, on persons, power, or ministry.
Fourth, the Missional Church Module of the CAT assesses whether members are more attractional or more missional in orientation. For example, we know that in a typical mainline church only 17% of members are comfortable telling faith stories.
Finally, the Flow Module of the CAT gets a direct read on how members view their discipleship in the world. In the typical church, two thirds of
members indicate that their engagement to impact the world as an expression of Christian discipleship is lower or much lower than they would like. This reveals an important opportunity for churches with a missional orientation.
In these senses the CAT is not simply an internally focused instrument. From a missional perspective, it measures the spiritual/emotional capacity of a congregation to be missionally engaged, the readiness of a church to enfold people into a healthy system, the level of flexibility required to engage missional initiatives, the degree of orientation of members to a missional rather than attractional approach, and the dissatisfaction of members with their current level of discipleship in the world.
Founder of Holy Cow! Consulting