By Debi Nixon
"CLASS, TAKE OUT A PIECE OF PAPER AND A PENCIL."
Remember how your heart raced when a teacher blurted out those words? Pop quiz! Ugh! You'd rather do anything than take a test. Right?
As painful as tests were at times, they provided our teachers with a helpful way of assessing how we were growing as students. In the same way, giving your ministry periodic tests can also help you assess the growth of your children, staff, ministry programs, and procedures.
When was the last time your ministry had a checkup? Assessing the details of your ministry will help guide your ministry as you seek to live out God's calling to change children's lives for Christ. A ministry of excellence is clear on its ministry progress and is continually adapting, changing, and growing to meet the spiritual, emotional, and social needs of its children and families. Where is your ministry? To find out, take out a piece of paper and a pencil...
Evaluation is only effective if you have a clearly defined purpose or mission statement. If not, do that first. How can you know if you've hit the target if you don't know what the target is? Evaluation helps you know if you're achieving what you've set out to accomplish.
Evaluation helps your planning process; helps assess the progress of your children and families in fulfilling your ministry's purpose statement; and also helps you know what to communicate to children, parents, volunteers, and your church family. Evaluation examines the difference between your vision and what you're currently providing to help create new ministry goals and plans.
WHAT TO EVALUATE
Evaluating or measuring your ministry results against your purpose may seem rudimentary, but many churches make little or no effort to assess results, either in terms of ministry program objectives, ministry procedures, or children's and families satisfaction. To decide what to evaluate, begin with clear, defined values, goals, and objectives that are consistent in fulfilling your minstry's purpose. From your clearly defined goals or vision, evaluate all that you offer. For example, does your curriculum meet all the objectives as defined in the values you've established for your ministry? Is your facility child-friendly, inviting, and representative of your ministry? Do the programs you offer meet the spiritual, emotional, and social needs of children? What is your parents' satisfaction level with the ministry you offer to children?
It's easy to place our primary focus of importance on the big picture. However, it's in the details that the big picture is clearly brought into focus. A great architect once said, "God is in the details." Evaluating and paying atttention to all the details and aspects of your ministry turns it into a ministry of excellence.
WHEN TO EVALUATE
To improve your ministry with children and families, evaluate the details of your ministry daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually - carefully examining what you're doing and accomplishing.
For example, you may assess your facility and what it communicates about your ministry by doing a weekly walkthrough, taking note of the physical condition of the rooms and equipment. From this evaluation, develop and implement goals and plans to help with maintenance and improvement. At the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, we complete a weekly facility maintenance report for each room, hallway, entranceway, and restroom in the children's ministry area. Details of this evaluation tool include equipment and facility repair needs, room cleanliness, and needed supplies. From this report, we develop a weekly action plan with the church facility ministry and the children's ministry team.
You, also, could implement an evaluation tool after each weekend for your Sunday school. What went well? What could be improved upon? Other evaluations may be quarterly or yearly, based on the time and length of the minstry. Of primary importance is that the details of your ministry are evaluated on an ongoing basis throughout the year.
HOW TO EVALUATE
When deciding how to evaluate, it's important to choose a variety of methods. By using different tools, you'll have a more comprehensive review of your ministry. The results of your evaluation should also be put in writing for future review and use. The following are examples of evaluation tools.