Yesterday’s post (and the amazing comments) on college ministry web sites got me thinkin’. As we approach the beginning of the school year, one of our best opportunities for excellence is to bring “fresh eyes” to our ministry. Just like I did for my friend’s college ministry web site, we can ask for outside input about all sorts of ministry areas – both visible things (an Orientation booth, handouts, advertisements, web sites, etc.) and our plans for the new year.
So here are a few ideas for bringing fresh insight to what’s ahead:
1. Get students to take a look at our materials and/or plans, with complete freedom to offer suggestions, “edits,” and ideas.
This one’s obvious, but I bet we all do this way less often than we should.
2. Ask another college minister for the same kind of input.
3. Ask advice from different types of people.
Go beyond just asking the same old people (like fellow staff or student leaders) for help. Solicit evaluations from individuals or groups of people – and perhaps even different kinds of people (extroverts, introverts, sophomores, seniors, brainiacs, etc.). You might be surprised to find that your elements favor only certain types of students, and this will help you correct for that.
Note: If you do this in groups, make sure everyone is heard from, or split groups by type. Oftentimes, a group will produce the opinions of only the most outspoken members, meaning introverts (like me) don’t get heard. Boo!
4. Sleep on it.
It’s amazing how a few days or a few weeks can make even your own eyes “fresh eyes.” Don’t just spend a week on something and then be done with it; come back to it after some time has passed, review, evaluate, and tweak.
5. Observe your materials (or plans) from various real-life viewpoints.
One of the things we can easily fail to do (in all of life, AND in college ministry) is put ourselves in other people’s shoes. When you’re evaluating your ministry efforts, are you only looking through the lens of your personality? Or have you taken the time to imagine how those things will affect, impact, or appear to various types of students (or even individual students you know)?