I’ve lost count of the times I’ve had an idea or strategy sound really great in my own mind only to be disappointed as to how it played out in real time. Whether it was a romantic idea for my wife, a cool hangout time with my sons, or an especially creative concept for student ministry, the truth is not every idea works. And the difference between success and failure is often a small piece of missing information I failed to consider or some minor variable out of my control.
I used to respond to these moments with a great deal of insecurity. I bought the lie that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, comical enough, romantic enough or talented enough to “make it work.” It took me some time before I realized how important the art of evaluation was.
I’ve always been good at evaluating through my own filter, but I learned the importance of seeking feedback from others.
I have a litmus test for evaluation in student ministry that’s strategic, keeps the purpose or focus as a guiding principle, and is fairly thorough. But no matter how detailed my evaluation is, hearing another person’s perspective is invaluable. Hearing why something didn’t go as planned from an outside source provides insight into details I often miss.
When you have a team of leaders, students, and volunteers or staff that “get it,” your ministry expands the effectiveness of what it can accomplish. The “get it” factor is when the people around you understand the purpose and focus of your ministry, or event, and they’re offered a chance to have input. Giving them room to provide insight, feedback & constructive viewpoints keeps them engaged and it also helps your own vantage point to increase.
Here are some questions that I ask of myself and those that team with me when we evaluate specific aspects of student ministry:
- Why did we attempting this event/series/idea?
- What are the realistic goals we feel we can achieve if we did this right now? (A Follow-up question can be Were they achieved? Why or Why Not?)
- What are the goals we feel we can achieve if we take the time to prep & prepare? (A Follow-up question can be Were they achieved? Why or Why Not?)
- Did anyone take any shortcuts on the tasks given to them?
- Did we communicate appropriately, effectively & consistently?
- What did you see that was healthy? Needed improved or adjusted?
- What was a youth ministry highlight for you from this event/series/idea?
Being willing to listen to your team is a critical part of evaluating your ministry. Not only does it build good will, it often prevents you from not executing due to missed information.