The Importance of BCS

I can’t imagine God using a sack of cattle feed to teach me something; but then again, He’s God. Mentally grumbling about paying $11.50 for a sack of cubes for my cattle (when less than a year ago I paid $7.50), God gave me pause. While unloading 800 pounds of feed from the back of my pickup, God used an upside down feed sack to teach me something new.

My normal feed sacks are paper with text and a picture of a cow’s head on them. This week, my local feed store was once again out of cubes. As I pulled the Tyvek sack of feed toward the tailgate God whispered “Look.” I stopped and looked up from my task. What Lord, I see nothing different here in the workshop? “Look at what you’re doing”, He whispered in my heart.

That’s when I realized the sacks were different in that printed on the back was a BCS chart. BCS stands for Body Condition Scoring, and it’s a rating system used for livestock. If you will, BCS is a livestock version of our BMI (Body Mass Index). For cattle, we use a 1 to 9 rating system where a BCS of 1 is very poor condition, and 9 shows a cow is overweight.

In a cow-calf operation, BCS is vitally important. It ranges from determining overall cow health and breed-back time, to how much a cow will bring at auction. It’s something I evaluate at key points throughout the year. Here at the Cross-Dubya, we assess BCS at weaning, before breeding, and at the end of their second trimester. Today, I sensed God had a different purpose.

This chart gnawed at me through the rest of the day and as I fell asleep. When I woke up in my recliner, I realized what God was trying to teach me. The acronym BCS could have other meanings and we need to be open to considering how one thing might apply to other parts of our lives. My thought upon awakening was BCS could stand for Body of Christ Scoring. How might we apply this livestock rating system to the body of Christ, today’s Christian church? Wow! That thought consumed my morning.

When I score my cattle, the goal is to have them all at BCS 7. Most ranchers consider a BCS 7 optimal condition for livestock. In learning about BCS years ago, a BCS 7 means the animal has 25-30 percent body fat and will be ready to breed-back faster than thinner or heavier cattle. It also places them in best physical condition to avoid injuries from muscle loss (too thin) or mobility issues (too fat). Monitoring BCS and adjusting feeding regimens ensure our Cross-Dubya cattle maintain an average BCS of 7 year-round.

I thought and prayed about how I could apply the BCS system to churches, and here’s what I came up with.

BCS Score



1 - Thin

  • Bone structure (hooks, pins, ribs, back) clearly visible and sharp

  • Visible all-around muscle loss

  • No fat deposits or muscling

  • Very low attendance

  • Lack of enthusiasm by members

  • Resistant to change or new ideas

  • Often operating in the red

  • Cannot keep pastor

2 - Thin

  • Visible space between vertebrae

  • Significant muscle loss in hindquarters

  • Few fat deposits

  • Dwindling attendance

  • Membership losses

  • Ad hoc finance

  • Closed to outsiders

  • Little or no community involvement

3 - Thin

  • Very little fat cover around foreribs, back, and loin

  • Visible backbone

  • Muscle loss in hindquarter

  • Mounting membership losses

  • Inability to attract new members

  • Budget shortfalls

  • Lack of programs for different age groups

4 - Borderline

  • 12th & 13th ribs are still visible

  • Must feel to find spinous processes

  • Slight muscle loss in hindquarter

  • Minimal fat deposits

  • Lack of Bible-based teaching (apostate)

  • Messages are  more worldly than godly

  • Budget challenges

  • Membership static

  • Often funds pet projects rather than community-wide

5 - Moderate

  • Ribs are mostly hidden

  • Fat deposits forming in brisket and sides of tailhead

  • Significant debt load

  • Lots of casual members that make two holidays per year

  • Little growth

  • More "pew sitting" than evangelism

6 - Moderate

  • Ribs fully covered and not visible

  • Hindquarters are plump and full

  • Brisket has some fat

  • A “closed” or non-inclusive society

  • Members all look & think alike

  • Managed budget

  • Average member age increasing

  • Majority of activities done by very few workers (90-10 rule)

7 - Fleshy (Optimal)

  • You can only feel spinous processes with firm pressure

  • Abundant fat cover on each side of tailhead

  • Fat in the brisket

  • Good mobility (can run, turn, up and down easily)

  • Uses each member’s unique talents, skills, & gifts

  • Open, non-judgmental inviting environment

  • Guest follow-up program

  • Balanced budget & minimal debt

  • More $ given outside the church than spent inside the church

  • Discipleship & other training opportunities

  • Something for everyone

8 - Fleshy

  • Smooth appearance (bone structure is disappearing)

  • Fat cover is thick and spongy

  • Brisket is full

  • Lots of cliques (Us vs. Them)

  • More interested in having members than making disciples

  • Worldly attitudes, focusing on politics from the pulpit, etc. more than teaching God’s word

  • Pride of savings & return on investments

  • Little real community outreach

9 - Fleshy

  • Square-looking appearance (bone structure no longer visible)

  • Tailhead buried in fat

  • Reduced mobility

  • Behavioral problems (bossy, entitled)

  • Low percentage of member engagement

  • Lots of distractions & activities that yield very little spiritual growth

  • More interested in size of savings & influence than serving community

  • The building is more important than the people in it

As with any rating system, BCS has a certain amount of ambiguity and ratings can be subjective. Ranchers become better at applying it with experience. And like writing or painting, we sometimes use broad strokes. My goal is not to invite comparison or cast criticism, but to encourage each of us to evaluate ourselves and our churches against the righteous standard found in God’s word.

Do you know your BCS? Share on X

Looking at some of today’s Christian churches, I see the results of too many concessions to worldly views and not enough application of God’s word in our lives and communities. We’ve become complacent in our faith and that complacency invites dissention from the standards of Christianity (morals, values, behaviors, service, etc.) from which Christ established the Judeo-Christian faith. I don’t believe this to be a sudden shift, but a slow drifting away from the example Christ sat for us through His life. Consider how secular our nation has become in the last 70 years.

God’s word has not changed, we have.

Today, there are churches that spend more time entertaining than teaching from the Bible. Corporate worship is not a bad thing—it should set the stage for learning by preparing our hearts to receive God’s word. Worship, however, does not develop the discipline and strength needed for our journey in faith. There are other churches that mistakenly believe they should shut their doors to sinners and people in need. Instead, we should invite those who are most vulnerable into our fellowship.

I firmly believe we are standing on the edge of a great precipice of time. We have little time left to either return to safety (2 Chronicles 7:14) or slip into the abyss of this world. My fervent prayer is that no Christian will fall away (1 Timothy 4:1-3), as we are nearing the end of our race. I pray we each finish strong.

God’s blessings,



Please join me each Thursday evening at 9:30 Eastern as host Coach Mark Prasek and I take a trip Around the Cross-Dubya on PJNET TV. We discuss this week’s blog post, offer insight about the lessons learned, and enjoy the fellowship of friends in the live chat room.

46 thoughts on “The Importance of BCS”

  1. I don’t know if I’d put a sack of cow feed on my preferred reading list, but maybe I should. I’m freshly impressed at the things God can use to get our attention and reveal truth that is vital to our present and future welfare and freshly grateful that you pay attention when God has something to say, even if it’s written on a feed sack. Beyond that, a heartfelt “AMEN” to your assessment. I am deeply aware that the moral and spiritual failure in our beloved country is not due to poor political choices. The political, academic, and media cesspool polluting the minds and hearts of our people and weakening America’s foundations is a direct result of decades of deterioration in the Body of Christ. God bless you, my friend, for once again shining light on truth we don’t like to admit and challenging us to look in the mirror when we’re looking for someone to blame.

    1. Thank you Mr. Ron. And yes, sometimes it can be difficult to look in the mirror and give ourselves a proper assessment, which often means coming clean with God. Of course, He already knows my filth, but He expects me to be subject to Him enough to admit it. I think He designed it this way so that our honesty instills a desire to repent and grow in our faith. Thank you so much for your candid and always kind comments sir.

  2. How insightful!This looks like more than a morning’s work, and I’m sure it was. It’s wonderful. I could easily rate churches I’ve been involved with in the past as a 6 or 8 using your criteria. My current church is a healthy 7, I’m happy to report.

    1. In my life, I think I’ve covered the spectrum/range of BCS my friend, both personally and via the church bodies I’ve been a part of. Like my cattle, maintaining that BCS 7 rating takes a lot of work, measuring, and commitment. I’m so very pleased to know you’re in a growing, healthy church that is focused on God’s word and carrying out Christ’s great commission. God’s blessings gentle friend.

  3. What a brilliant idea God gave you, J. D.! Isn’t it amazing how He can open our eyes and have us see things differently than we ever have before? Thankfully, my church falls in the 7 range, but there are too many that have fallen prey to worldly temptations. Yes, we need to pray for this nation that has drifted so far off course when it comes to our Judeo-Christian values. With you, I pray it’s not too late.

    1. Thank you Ms. Martha. Yes. I too wonder sometimes if our nation has gone too far off the rails and God has removed His hand of blessing and protection from this nation. Is it too late for America? I honestly don’t know ma’am. Is it too late for each one of us, and for our churches? No ma’am, but time is running out fast I believe. God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. I hope you enjoyed Ms. Pauline; and I hope you and Mr. Tom are settling in. I can’t wait for you to resume your writing, as God calls and leads my friend. I miss that wonderful sense of humor God has given you to share and bring joy to our lives with.

  4. Very relevant topic as I see more churches worrying about social issues than spreading the Gospel. We need to examine our lives using this kind of scale too. If someone looked at our lives and our finances, would they see God or the world?

    1. Oh, yes ma’am Ms. Yvonne. I could not agree more ma’am. Yes, we must confront sin; and we should always seek to teach God’s word and spread the gospel throughout the world. But, as you so aptly point out, before we can get our church in optimal condition, we need to get ourselves there. Once each of us in a right relationship with God, then our church will follow suit. And if it doesn’t, then perhaps it’s time for a new church. I’ve never been much for church hopping, but I’ve learned that being Don Quixote tilting an windmills is futile. The best soldiers survey the battlespace and know when to advance, retreat, and stand our ground. And only when we ourselves (and sometimes I feel like a BCS 1-3) are operating in optimal spiritual condition are we in a position to move forward effectively. God’s blessings ma’am.

  5. It’s amazing what God will use to get our attention and teach us. I pray as well for us all to stay faithful to God in the days ahead. May we keep on encouraging one another, staying in His Word daily.

  6. I expect some others (besides me), as we read your chart, find some areas in our churches that we need to work on. You have shared an informative and thought provoking post, my friend. God was speaking to you and you shared with us–doing His work, my friend. Thank you and may God bless.

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Katherine. I think, if we’re brave enough to be honest with ourselves, we can all admit to needing some tweaking here and there to reach and maintain our optimal physical and spiritual condition. Whether individually or as a herd (church), we are most effective and efficient when we’re operating in that optimal range. God’s blessings my forthright friend. I thank God for you!

    1. Thank you! And yes ma’am, I love when God invites me to come and reason with Him. When I’m in prayer, study, and meditation upon Him and His word, the world around me disappears. I so enjoy those moments of being “lost in His love.” God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. Awww… Thank you Ms. Mimi. I was a bit apprehensive about sharing this, and learning how to format that table in WordPress was a challenge in itself. Am so pleased that you enjoyed my friend.

  7. J.D., interesting ranch definitions and explanations once again. I agree about how many believers have made concessions. As you noted, God has not changed, but we have! I pray we finish the race strong!

    1. I’m happy you enjoyed Ms. Karen. When I can engage my readers with something, my day is made! I can assure you though that I learn more from y’all that y’all do from me. 🙂 God’s blessings dear sister.

  8. Mr. J.D., Once again, I am amazed at the correlation you get from farm activities and Christian living. This was an excellent post and an eye-opening chart! May we all, and our churches, finish strong!

    1. Thank you so much Ms. Edwina. Am glad you enjoyed ma’am. I made a career out of data analytics, measuring performance, and developing “Return to Green” plans. I think developing this chart for the church was the most challenging analysis I’ve ever done. I’m sure glad God was there to help me along the way. I know it isn’t perfect and there’s always room for subjectivity in any scoring/rating system like that; but my goal wasn’t to prosecute or “throw shade” as the young people say, but to give us cause to stop, reflect, and consider how we might become more effective, both as individuals and as a church.

  9. I couldn’t help but assess my church’s BCS score as I read your chart describing the health of cattle as it could relate to the church. Whew! I am happy and proud to belong to a church that rates a score of 7. Once again, you keenly perceived a unique message from the Lord to help we non-ranchers. Thank you, for sharing J. D.!

    1. I’m very glad you are part of a church that fits in the optimal assessment range Ms. Kathleen. I’m not surprised that many of my Christin writing friends have the objectivity to make honest assessment, and you find yourselves in that solid middle range. My heart breaks though for those on both ends of this spectrum though. Oh how I pray this will help them to see that before it’s too late. God’s blessings sweet lady.

    1. So glad you enjoyed Ms. Barb. The key, I think, is recognizing that there is always something more we can do to help optimize both our physical and spiritual condition. God’s blessings gentle soul.

  10. Hi J.D. we have a BCS two-wheel tractor & at first that’s what I thought you would be talking about. It has a lot of different implements that go with it. Finish mower, sickle-bar mower, roto-tiller and maybe 1 or 2 other things. Your clarity is amazing as far as your conversations with the Father. I’ve missed a lot of posts, but you have yet to let me down as far as nice and meaty posts. I was definitely filled with the portion He offered you to discern. A lovely mindset you have to have done the above chart. Stay blessed & bless. (Blessing other IS 2nd nature to you.)

    1. Familiar with the BCS brand Ms. Kari, but that’s not what this post was about. 😀 You may be getting a photo request from me one day though, as you always plant great ideas ma’am. Thank you so much for your many kind words; and I’m so pleased you were able to read and enjoy this post. Have missed your comments and fellowship sweet friend, but understand. Your poetry and kindness toward my family and me has been the blessing sweet lady. My best to you and Mr. Mark.

  11. J.D., this is such a powerful, insightful post! Like you, I believe the Body is suffering in many areas when we need to grow stronger as His return approaches. Your chart caused me to pause and reflect on my own personal health, as well. Thank you for continuing to spur me on in my faith.


  12. I find your insight amazing! Obviously God-inspired, my friend. In these days of the growing apostate church, this chart will pinpoint areas of concern. These are days when the false will be separated from the true. I agree, may we be wise and finish this race strong!

    1. Amen Ms. Karen! Let us finish strong my sister and friend! Let God’s light shine so brightly through our lives that we show folks where the shadows of sin are lurking in their lives. Time is growing so short dear friend.

  13. Kathy Collard Miller

    Very, very important insights, J.D. I’m so grateful there are those, like you, calling attention to the slide away from faithful truth-telling and away from ear-tickling.

    1. How very kind. Thank you Ms. Kathy; and I’m sure proud to be standing beside you, Mr. Larry, and so many of our Christian writing friends in proclaiming God’s truths to the world. God’s blessings sweet friend.

  14. I enjoyed your BCS comparison. Not everyday Christians are compared to cows but it served its purpose well and gave me pause to evaluate.
    One thing I always enjoy in your posts is how you listen to God’s voice and then share it with us. Thank you.

    1. You make a good point there Ms. Karen, but then again, I’ve sat and watched some on Sunday mornings and it’s difficult to tell the difference between their nonchalant, disinterested gum chewing and the rumination (cud chewing) of one of my cows on a sunny, cool morning. Am so very glad you enjoy ma’am, as I try to repay you and others for the wonderful insights and encouragement your posts bring.

  15. This was an amazing writing…totally God-inspired! I learn so much about cattle farms from you, but the most important thing is the spiritual lessons they produce. I have already passed it on to a few friends. I pray the Lord continues to inspire your thoughts to bring life to others.

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