ingredients #3: the 500-hour checkup

There’s a third ingredient I would love to see far more liberally applied to college ministries.

Evaluation.

Regular. Evaluation.

Except for those whose personalities are specifically attuned to assessing and/or tweaking their ministries, it has never seemed that “spot checks” and other quality control measures are a big priority among college ministers.

Sure, I recognize that we have our forms and assessments required by many of our overseers. And those things can (sometimes) be helpful.

But I believe one of the biggest roadblocks to the effectiveness we could have as college ministries is that MUCH is “lost in translation” between the hopes in our heads and actual accomplishments – of our various special events, our weekly activities, and even our entire semesters.

How often do you semi-objectively evaluate EACH of the methods within your college ministry? This means far more than spending 15 minutes after an activity saying, “How’d it go? Did students like it? Did we get any compliments or complaints? Was it worth the effort?”

While some of those questions may be a jumping-off point, the far more important questions come along the lines of

  • Did it accomplish the purposes we developed that activity around?
  • Could it have accomplished those purposes better?
  • Did we plan and prepare well enough before this activity?
  • How did it help (or hinder) the progress we’re pushing for in our ministry and individual students?
  • Are our leaders (student leaders or otherwise) skilled in what they did / what they’re doing? How can we continue to train them?
  • How sure are we about our answers to these questions – and how can we measure these well?

…and we shouldn’t just be asking these questions about individual events (a Large Group Meeting, a message, a campus-wide event, a retreat). We should be regularly asking these kinds of assessing Qs about every single one of our standard forms – our small groups this semester, our regular social activities, the series of messages we’re in the middle of, the worship at our Large Group Meetings, announcements, etc. Even little bitty things – your email communications or the ways you setup for Large Group.

While the title of this blog isn’t prescribing a set time (I just wanted a good round number), I imagine running a hard-core, well-done evaluation of your ministry every three weeks would drastically improve your effectiveness. Whatever time frame you choose, would you consider adding the Evaluation ingredient a lot more next year?

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2 Comments

  1. Benson,

    I definitely agree with what you’re saying here. As I’ve been working in the main headquarters for our ministry I feel like we do a pretty good job of regularly evaluating ourselves. However, I don’t think this is happening nearly as often in our ministries on each campus. When I was a student in the BASIC ministry on my campus I remember asking regularly why we wanted to do certain things, but it seemed rare that we would come back and evaluate what we had done. I’ve been trying to encourage this more on my blog as well because I think regular evaluation can be an incredible step toward accomplishing the vision God has given us!

  2. Sooo important! And if you are going to regularly evaluate you are going to need some measure of success or metrics to evaluate yourself by. That’s the tricky bit!

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