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How to Analyze Your Ministry Year

After my first year in ministry, I handed out surveys to all the middle school students.  What I got back was a huge surprise. I thought I would get back helpful feedback; all I got were comments about my glasses and things that wouldn’t be appropriate to say here.  Let’s just say it was a huge disappointment considering the work I put into it.
It’s not exactly the best part of our job; however, if we can’t review what we do, then how can we ever expect to grow at our craft?  In order to get better, we need feedback.  And, even if we have a method, it takes humility, patience, and the ability to listen to hard truths.  For some of us it’s easy to be self-critical, where for others we always see the glass as half full.  We need truthful and helpful insight.  To get it we need to know the best methods of retrieving it.  Here are three examples of how we can obtain good feedback to analyze the year:

  • SWOTS.W.O.T. created by Albert Humphrey, stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  Essentially, you want to look at what you did well and where you could be better.  The best way to do this test is with your ministry leaders; have them give you insight on where they see big opportunities for growth.  Allow them to share with you their concerns from the past year.  By using this test, you can get a well-rounded look at the past year. (More thoughts on this here.)
  • Interview The Rookies-Sometimes the best perspective is from those who are new to your ministry.  When you are in the trenches for too long, it’s hard to see what’s really happening.  Allow them to ask questions like, “Why does this happen?” or “Why do you do this?”  The answers they’ll give you might seem brutal; however, in the end, it’ll help you see how others see you. (5 questions to ask them right here.)
  • Write A Letter To Your Replacement-Imagine you were about to leave your job knowing that there was a replacement ready to go.  Your responsibility is to tell him or her everything you know about youth ministry, especially your own.  What would you tell them?  What advice would you leave?  What should they tackle first?  Writing this out, and then, looking back will help you see what’s really on your heart and mind.

I still think surveying the teens and parents is important because you do need their feedback.  However, to avoid the immature answers, make sure questions are specific and get it out to as many people as possible.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing a large group survey, try talking to your student leaders.  In the end, the best way to know how you are doing is by looking at the fruit your ministry bares.  Are you achieving the vision or the mission?  Does it look like teens are connecting with Christ through the adults?  Know your goals and you’ll know your growth.  

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Chris graduated from Xavier University in 2003 with a BA in Communications: Electronic Media. He moved to Baltimore in the fall of 2003 where he served as a Jesuit Volunteer for a year. During that time, he was a Case Manager at Chase Brexton, met his wife Kate and felt God's calling to Student Ministry. In the summer of 2004, he was hired by the Roman Catholic Parish Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland as a Middle School Youth Minister. Today he oversees grades 5-12 as the Director of Student Ministry.