December 10, 2009

Evaluation Ideas

Even though evaluating teaching and learning in the church is difficult, we have to be willing to do the hard work of honestly learning where we are so that we can determine where we need to go. Here are a few ideas of how we can begin to tackle this task:

1) Seek Outside Help
Sometimes it is very true that we are too close to our own situation to evaluate it objectively. By enlisting someone from outside your organization or ministry, you're bringing in a person who can be more objective & unbiased. You can go one of two routes on this: pay some kind of consultant to work with you or partner with another local ministry, denominational leadership, or another organization to come in & give you some feedback & guidance. In my denomination, there are great people who work at the denominational level who can come in for a period of time & provide valuable feedback for little or no cost. Another idea would be to enlist another local ministry that you respect to help you out. This will require courage & a humble willingness to learn from others. After all, local churches are often characterized as competitive rather than cooperative, but Imagine the testimony it would be to others to know that your ministry & another are partnering together to be more effective agents of God's Kingdom.

2) Get Creative
In some groups within the church, evaluation is not only possible, it can also be fun. When it comes to children and teenagers, you can "test" them; just don't let them know they're being tested. Use activities, games, & short term competition to reinforce and evaluate exactly how well you're teaching & your students are learning. I know, it sounds like it would never work, but trust me, I used to think the same thing, but one of my mentors, Roger Glidewell showed me that it does work. So get creative in how your review, reinforce, & evaluate the teaching & learning that's happening in your children & student ministries.

3) Get Away & Decide Where You Want To Go
In addition to anything else you do to begin the evaluation process, you must get away with your team, both staff & some volunteers, & determine your objectives & the steps necessary to reach those objectives. This will likely require more time than you think it does. If a multi-day retreat is not possible in your context, then set a series of times aside so that you can continuously work on the issue. Enlisting outside help is great, partnering with other ministries is also beneficial, but if you are the leader of your ministry or organization, you can't continuously outsource this responsibility. Utilize other people's feedback, but you have to lead.

Honest evaluation is difficult, and it can be downright scary, but it's vital. As the church, we're not just about teaching people facts & information. We're communicating a message that has the potential to revolutionize & transform lives. We can't take our responsibility in teaching that message lightly, & we cannot ignore our responsibility to evaluate how effectively we are teaching, learning, & leading.

What steps can you take in your context to begin having an honest evaluation of your small group, children's ministry, youth ministry, or preaching? Who do you need to get away with in order to identify your ministry or organization's objectives & plan of action?

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