My longtime friend is a partner in a new restaurant here in Dallas, and he and I ate breakfast-for-lunch over there on Friday. At some point, he asked for my honest opinion on anything I noticed… and if you know me, you know that analyzing any experience is like Christmas for me.
I hemmed-and-hawed, not because I don’t thoroughly enjoy that process, but because I’m always worried I’m going to insult, bore, or otherwise turn off with my tedium. But he assured me he wanted my thoughts – even the ticky-tack stuff – and kept encouraging me to write those thoughts down on a Comment Card.
Your college ministry has likely wrapped up the bulk of its operations for the semester / quarter, but there may still be students hanging around taking Finals or waiting for graduation. And even if everybody’s gone home, fortunately for today’s idea they don’t have an awful lot to do as they sit at home.
It might be high time to get feedback from your students, just like Shane asked for my ideas about his eatery. Maybe it’s through constructing a survey, a direct email to a bunch of students, or several in-person interviews. Maybe you can encourage students to ponder and then follow up – specifically – in January. Whatever. However you do it (and that’s worth praying and thinking through, of course), there’s double delight in student feedback:
1. For your college ministry.
Feedback will make your campus ministry better. No doubt about it. It’s a chance to get the wisdom of many, many counselors. And even when some students aren’t all that “wise” about your ministry (’cause they’re new or ’cause they’re not so wise!), it’s a chance to learn what they think about your ministry… and knowing people’s perception is just as important a piece of information as their ideas for betterment might be.
2. For the students.
Everybody likes knowing they’ve got a hand in something. Everybody likes believing their opinion matters. And especially students in the Millennial Generation like knowing they can enact change, they have a voice, there’s authenticity in their leaders, they’re a part of the team, and so on. Soliciting feedback (and treating it with respect) conveys all that. (And I’d point out – specifically – some of the changes you make as a result of feedback. Maybe even name names…)
One last idea: Don’t just ask students. Ask volunteers (if you have some). Those guys and gals have some of the most important feedback you need to hear.
And while you’re at it, consider who else’s opinion matters: maybe parents of students, faculty, administration, past people in your position, townspeople, donors, alumni. In various ministries, any or all of these people might have really important things to share.