Evaluating ministry is an opportunity to see what’s working and what’s not, and there are many ways to get the answers you’re looking for. Here are some tips for starting the process of evaluating your ministry:
- Consider one of many evaluation tools with acronyms. These tools will help you clearly define what you are measuring, which will create actionable results. There’s the SWOT analysis and various methods built off CAKE.
- Get out your goals. Somewhere along the line, you probably sketched out some goals or a mission statement. Dust it off so you can compare what you wanted to accomplish with what you actually did accomplish. Need to set goals? Star with SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Based.
- Narrow down and define what you’re evaluating - growth, impact, effectiveness, satisfaction - and craft surveys specific to what you’re measuring.
- Keep your survey questions specific and concrete. It’s okay to have one or two free-form response fields to answer questions like “What did you like most about the retreat?” but it’s also important to ask questions that have simple answers or yes-or-no answers. Consider asking:
- Was the time of the event convenient? Yes or No
- On a scale of 1 to 5, how likely are you to recommend Sunday school to a friend?
- What kind of snacks would you like to see at fellowship? A. Fruit; B. Gluten-free; C. Cheese and Crackers; D. Other
- Decide how you’ll gather data. There are so many (free!) survey tools available. Pick the one that will aggregate and distribute results in the way that works best for you. Google forms offers user-friendly templates. Survey Monkey is intuitive and easy to use. For a more informal poll, like “Would you recommend our VBS to your friends?” you can conduct a Facebook or Twitter poll.
- Look for trends in the data. Change is difficult so make sure any change you are contemplating is backed by data. If you can show the need to change based on trends in your survey, you can make a stronger case for implementing something different.
- Know what you want to do with the results of the evaluation. Are you and your ministry partners in a position to enact change now, or do you need to wait and bring people around to new ideas? Make sure your team is all on the same page and is open to the results of the evaluation, regardless of outcome. Remind staff members and volunteers that the ministry you do is God’s ministry.
- Pray for your ministry. Pray for the evaluation process, asking the Holy Spirit to work through the tools you dispatch and the people who respond. As you gather results, ask that God would clearly lay out the way forward. No matter how big or small your ministry, God is working through you and through your ministry to bring the Gospel to the world.
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