Have you ever found yourself in the midst of a ministry program where things just don't seem to be working out, but you don't know why?
Everyone who has worked in church ministry knows how frustrating that experience is. If you're in the middle of it now, you're missing one thing: a way to evaluate your program.
Maybe you've started a new youth program, pioneered your church's first soup kitchen, or are thinking about starting a church from scratch. No matter how big or small your project is, church ministry evaluation is a crucial part of church life.
That doesn't mean it's easy. Project evaluation is a challenge in any context, especially in ministry. How do you evaluate your ministries in a prayerful way, and where do you even start?
If you haven't evaluated your church ministries yet, keep reading. This article explains everything you need to know about the importance of church ministry evaluation. Plus, you'll get copy-and-paste questions and fields to create your own church ministry evaluation form.
Table of Contents
- How to Do a Church Ministry Evaluation
How to Do a Church Ministry Evaluation
Church ministry evaluation is an ongoing process and has four phases:
- Planning your ministry.
- Implementing your ministry plan.
- Evaluating the ministry outcomes.
- Making changes to your ministry (re-planning).
We'll dive deeper into each phase before sharing the copy-and-paste questions and fields you need to build your own church ministry evaluation form.
Phase 1: Planning Your Church Ministry
One question that doesn't get asked enough in churches is: what exactly do you want your ministry to accomplish?
If you don't have a plan in place before you start, your church ministry evaluation will be made all the more challenging. After all, how can you grade yourself without knowing what it was you intended to achieve?
That's why it's crucial to set goals and objectives before you even launch your ministry. It's important whether you're setting your church's overall strategic plan or simply starting a coffee hour.
When drafting your plan, consider questions like:
- What do you want to happen in this ministry?
- How will you know if you've achieved it?
- What kind of marketing strategy will this project need?
- What kind of help will you need?
- Who needs to be involved (i.e., volunteers or donors)?
- How does this project compare to your church's vision and values?
Start by setting broad goals and adding specific objectives. This becomes your roadmap for evaluation. If you know what you want to accomplish, you'll know what questions to ask when evaluating your ministry.
Phase 2: Implementing Your Ministry Plan
Now, put your plan into action. As your new ministry unfolds, see what works and what doesn't.
Make a mental note (or keep an evaluation file) of how the program goes. You'll use those observations in the next step.
Phase 3: Evaluating Your Ministry's Outcomes
This is when you get to the meat of the church ministry evaluation process. (If you're already at this phase, see below for a ready-to-use ministry evaluation form.)
In the evaluation phase, you'll ask ministry evaluation questions to compare your ministry results to your original plan. Look at where your ministry succeeded and where it fell short. Is there anything you would do differently if you had it to do again?
Phase 4: Re-Planning
When you've finished your church ministry evaluation, there is still more to do. In the final phase, you'll go back to your original ministry plan and make the necessary changes.
This includes changing any aspect of the ministry based on how you want it to more effectively meet your goals. For instance, you might:
- Increase or decrease the amount of funding your ministry receives.
- Change your ministry's hours or location.
- Change the content or focus of your ministry.
- Up your marketing game to attract more attendance.
- Expand the scope of your ministry to reach more people.
- End the ministry if necessary.
After you're done making a new plan, it's time to make changes to your ministry. Then, you'll continue the church ministry evaluation process all over again.
The evaluation process may seem like a lot of work, and that's because it is. It's also never really finished.
However, it can be the key to getting your church ministries off the ground. It can even take your ministries from good to great.
Church Ministry Evaluation Form
Below, you'll find a text template of a church ministry evaluation form. Use the free ministry evaluation questions and fields to build your own form.
Planning Your Ministry
- Ministry idea:
- Overall goal(s) of this ministry (fewer than three):
- Specific objectives of this ministry (at least five):
- How this ministry expresses your church's mission and values:
- Time period that the ministry will run before evaluation:
- Expected launch date of the ministry:
- Expected end date (if applicable):
- Supplies/equipment needed:
- How will you obtain your supplies?
- Expenses that this ministry will incur (list them all separately):
- Total expected cost of the ministry:
- Sources of funding:
- Employees, staff and volunteers involved in this ministry:
- Who will be in charge of the ministry?
- What decisions will the person in charge make?
- Project stakeholders:
- Expected obstacles or problems in this ministry:
- Plans to overcome these obstacles:
Evaluating Your Ministry Outcomes
- Did your ministry meet its overall goal?
- Did your ministry meet any of its specific objectives?
- What obstacles, if any, prevented your ministry from meeting its goals?
- Was the established timeline sufficient to evaluate your ministry?
- Did enough attendees/clients come to your ministry to make it worth the cost and time?
- If not, how can you make your ministry more available and accessible to them?
- Which volunteers and staff performed well?
- Which volunteers and staff did not perform well, and why?
- How do the project stakeholders feel about the ministry's outcome?
- Should the ministry continue to operate, and if so, when will its next evaluation be?
- Do you need to write any policies, instructions or operation manuals to make it easier to continue the ministry?
- How much money did your ministry cost?
- Which expenses exceeded the expected amount?
- Which expenses came in under the expected amount?
- Did any unexpected expenses occur?
- Were any expenses unaccounted for?
- Do any expenses need to be reduced to make it possible to continue the ministry?
Evaluating Potential Ministry Expansion
- Can you expand your church ministry to serve more people?
- Do you have access to sufficient funding (such as interested donors)?
- Do you have enough leaders/facilitators to expand your ministry?
- If not, can you hire more staff or train more volunteers?
Church Ministry Evaluation Best Practices
One of the most important practices in church ministry evaluation is to write down your observations as you bring your project to life.
Keep referring back to your planning points and ministry evaluation questions. Make notes about how the ministry is going to help you remember what happened. When evaluation time comes, you won't have to rely on your memory to recall details about the ministry project.
Keep Emotions in Check
Let's face it: sometimes ministries don't go as planned. It's natural to be disappointed when your ministry doesn't work out the way you had hoped. At evaluation time, emotions can run high and tempers flare.
It's your responsibility to make sure your emotions don't cause the ministry's evaluation process to be too personal. Never blame or lash out at others for a church ministry's problem.
Yes, you may need to critique someone's performance. However, if you can't contain your anger, it's better to take some time to cool down before digging into the church ministry evaluation process.
Remember to Include Staff Evaluations
Staff evaluations are one of the hardest parts of a church ministry evaluation. That's because everyone comes to ministry with a vulnerable heart ready to serve and receiving feedback and correction is painful.
But that doesn't mean it can't be done. Staff evaluations are a crucial part of evaluating your church's ministries. If a ministry is struggling — or thriving — your staff is a part of the reason, and they deserve feedback on their performance.
Not sure where to start evaluating your staff? Begin by considering:
- How closely are they fulfilling their job description?
- What is working in the ministry?
- What could be functioning better in the ministry?
- How do their actions and personality contribute to the ministry?
- What challenges have they faced?
- How would the ministry be different with another person in their role?
These questions connect staff evaluations to ministry evaluations. It's best to do both in tandem. That way you can work with staff to improve their performance at the same time as they improve their ministries.
If you're intimidated by the idea of giving your staff challenging feedback, remember that it is a Biblical practice. Throughout the New Testament, the apostles challenged one another on their ministry practices. Paul even had to call Peter out publicly when his misguided approach to ministry was driving people away from Christ (Galatians 2:11-14)!
Although we recommend taking a more gentle approach to your ministry evaluations, rest assured that giving feedback is part of healthy church culture.
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