Taking time to evaluate your ministry is one of the most essential components for successfully leading your children’s ministry. How can you know what to fix if you don’t know what’s broken? How can you know what to duplicate…or eliminate…if you don’t evaluate?
In short, you can’t.
Add to that the fact that children’s ministry is, in my opinion, the most complex department in the church, and the need for regular & intentional inspection becomes all too apparent.
Yet we often have no plan for evaluation. Here are a 5 ideas that might help:
5 Ways to Evaluate Your Children’s Ministry
Learn to listen.
It’s amazing what you can learn simply by learning to listen intentionally. As you converse with kids, parents & volunteers, put you evaluation ears on and listen to what they are saying. Catch the quick statements which reflect their thoughts and ideas about what’s happening in your ministry. And have some way to record your thoughts. For years I carried around a Moleskine notebook and a pocket pen & by the end of Sunday morning I usually had 2 or 3 pages filled with notes. Now I record everything in Evernote on my iPhone. The point is, listen to the conversations & capture what you hear in order to evaluate the feedback – and teach your core leaders to do the same.
Ask for feedback.
Many times leaders will avoid this simply because it opens the door for people to complain. Do it anyway. Ask intentional questions. Create surveys & questionnaires. Hold “town hall” meetings (these work great over lunch!). Put polls on your website. Be purposeful and systematic about it (and don’t over-do it), but ask for feedback. Aside from the value of what you receive in return, you are also communicating value to those who you ask – you might be surprised at the goodwill this produces with them.
Solicit thoughts from staff.
Many times we are slow to offer or receive insight from other staff (I’m talking non-children’s ministry staff). We don’t want to step on toes, and we don’t really believe that they know anything about what we’re doing in our area. This usually is the product of the silo mentality in our churches (which is way too common!). But here’s what I’ve discovered:
- Because many other staff have kids in my department and they are “on the inside” of church happenings, they can provide a unique perspective;
- Often they will hear about our department from people who will not speak directly with me (and vice versa);
- They often will not share their thoughts simply because I’ve never asked.
Ask away – you might be surprised at the value of the insight other staff will offer you.
Bring in someone incognito.
I share the story of bringing in my sister who has 5 kids (including 1 autistic, 1 from China & 2 from Uganda) to do this for me. It’s a tremendous way to get a fresh perspective on your ministry. Follow the link to learn exactly how to do it.
Get professional evaluation.
Sometimes bringing in experienced outsiders is the best option, and this is what we do with our Children’s Ministry Assessment. This is especially good if:
- You are new to the ministry & want a comprehensive evaluation of where things stand;
- There has been recent major transition or trauma in the church or ministry (change in pastors; major shift in direction, significant disunity, disagreement or disruption; etc.);
- There is a desired change in direction for the ministry (an experienced outside voice always lends credibility to leadership direction).
However you do it, be sure to make evaluation a regular and intentional part of your leadership.
What other ways do you evaluate your Children’s Ministry?
(please share in comments below)