Evaluation is one of those things that can be tedious and time consuming—and certainly not very glamorous—but oh so necessary to the success of your ministry.
And the reality is evaluation of your ministry is happening constantly, whether you have an active and intentional evaluation system in place or not.
- Your kids evaluate your ministry every week and choose to engage or disengage based on the results.
- Your parents evaluate your ministry as to whether it is meeting their needs, whether those are legitimate needs (spiritual formation of their kids) or not (keeping their kids busy while they attend church).
- Visiting families evaluate your ministry from the moment they drive into the parking lot.
- Your volunteers evaluate your ministry and choose to buy in to the vision set before them or not. They often will set their own serving standards by the level that is set by your ministry as a whole.
- Even your staff and core leaders are evaluating their experiences, your leadership and the quality of ministry that is set.
Evaluation is happening, whether you like it or not. That’s one reason why being active and intentional about evaluating your Children’s Ministry is critical. The other is obvious: You cannot improve on something unless you know its current condition. It’s that simple.
So here are some thoughts about evaluating your Children’s Ministry:
When do I evaluate? In a word: always. As you walk around while ministry is going on. As we talk to parents, leaders and staff. As we lead meetings & programs. At regularly scheduled intervals (after Sunday services; after big events; monthly, quarterly and annually).
What do we evaluate? In a word: everything. Here are 10 major areas that you might want to start with, creating lists beneath each one relevant to your ministry:
- Vision, Mission & Goals (how they are being accomplished);
- Staff recruiting & Assimilation;
- Staff Training & Nurture;
- Weekly Program;
- Family Impact & Parent Partnerships;
- Administration (yes, efficiency & management matter…a lot!);
- Curriculum & Resources;
- Outreach & Special Events;
- Facilities (safety, appropriateness, etc.)
Just about everything you need to keep an eye on will fall into one of these areas. Of course, we evaluate with the overall goal of spiritual formation.
How do we evaluate? In a word (or three): in multiple ways!
- Personal observation.
- Response cards.
- Informal conversations.
- Formal interviews.
- Focus groups.
- Feedback from leaders (train your staff & core leaders to evaluate with you).
There are tons of ways. One great way is through “mystery” evaluators, or what we call “incognito inspectors.“ Invite someone your teachers don’t know to visit your children’s ministry and give their insight. Then debrief with them afterwards. I have asked my sister, with her five kids (including three via foreign adoptions and one autistic) to visit anonymously and tell me everything that was good, bad or indifferent. Get creative with how you collect feedback.
The most important thing about evaluation is that you actually make it a priority!