learning from our criti-constituents?

Last week, I compared Domino’s Pizza work to reinvent their pizza with the way we, too, should be listening to our college ministry constituents – and even our critics. As I wrote then, our constituents and critics include:

  • your students
  • your staff members
  • your former staff members
  • your graduated students
  • students who left the ministry for other reasons
  • students who have never set foot in your ministry
  • parents of your students
  • campus faculty, staff, and administrators
  • your overseers
  • the person who last had your position
  • other college ministries serving your campus tribe

Whether we spend time thinking about it or not, each of our college ministries has an important relationship with each of these groups – they are, in some way or another, our constituents. And many would argue that our constituents deserve to be critics – and whether you believe that or not, this thinking may be particularly strong among Millennials.

So how might we go about learning from our “criti-constituents”? Here are some ideas:

  1. Survey. SurveyMonkey, other online tools, or even a paper survey could help you discover the opinions of any of your criti-constituents. You’ll want to spend some time in prayer and thought about the questions (both their content and their actual wording). And a mix of open-ended and multiple-choice / “range” questions would probably be helpful.
  2. One-question survey. If you’re in the dark (or fear you’re in the dark) about what “outsiders” think about you, one quick question might be all you need. “What descriptions come to your mind when you think of our ministry?” is a good example. And because it’s just one question, you might get a lot more responses.
  3. Exit interviews or similar follow-up. Sitting down with – or better yet, having a student leader sit down with – a student who has left your ministry could provide some real insight. Of course, you can do the same thing with recent visitors, to see what they really thought about a trip to your ministry. And grads – both recent and long past – have hindsight that could be quite valuable.
  4. An outside question-asker. When I was in a Christian fraternity, the executive director served this role. On a visit to our campus, he sent all the officers out of the room, and then asked for our genuine feedback on how the fraternity was running. We were able to share with him, and he was able to share our collective, anonymous responses with the leaders. You could do this, too, perhaps with a trusted adult from your church or a college minister friend from another town. (I would, however, weigh whether it’s better to involve your WHOLE ministry or just a segment of the most involved.)
  5. A public question session. Of course, much of this might be accomplished just between you and your students, too. As with #4, just keep in mind that a gathering of your truly involved students / your student leaders might be the best setting for a “feedback session.”


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