December 9, 2009

Why Evaluating Is Hard-Part 2

This week I've been looking at the problem of evaluating teaching & learning in our ministries and trying to identify some key reasons why it's so tough. Yesterday I mentioned how our foundational purpose for teaching in the church is just different from other educational arenas, & because of that most leaders are poorly equipped to evaluate which leads to a lack of benchmarks or milemarkers that people need in order to gauge growth. Today, I want to point out some other factors that are at work beneath the surface.

3) The Urgency of Now
Whether you are a pastor, a small group leader, or a small group member, you feel this pressure. In ministry, Sunday is always right around the corner, & as soon as you finish one lesson or sermon, another one is waiting for you. That sense of urgency tends to overwhelm people to the point that it is all they worry about. And as Tony Morgan would say, we end up killing cockroaches. In other words, we're so consumed by what's urgent now that we lose sight of what is urgent long-term. Leaders have to find a way to manage that urgency in order to build in a process of evaluating exactly where their ministry or organization is. However, there is another, uglier, thing lurking beneath the surface that keeps us from taking a good look at where we are.

4) We're Not Honest With Ourselves
I think this is tied to the sins of laziness and pride. Deep down we know things aren't right, but we can't stand the thought of admitting it. After all, if we admitted it, people would know we're not perfect. Guess what? They already knew! We have to kill that pride that keeps us from being honest about our teaching or the learning of the people in our ministries. Laziness is a factor because not only do we not want to admit something's wrong, we don't want to have to work to fix it. Plus, if the people we serve don't know something is wrong & aren't complaining about it, why should we create a problem that we have to work on? That is lazy and self centered leadership. You're not creating a problem; you're enabling a problem to grow and fester. Eventually that problem will grow to the point that you can't ignore it, & it will probably be beyond your ability to deal with.

What distracts you? What seems so urgent now that you can't look at the big picture? Have any traces of pride or laziness crept into your leadership and caused you to be less than honest about exactly where you are as a teacher and how well the people in our ministry are learning about becoming more like Christ?

Do the tough work. Ask hard questions that demand honest answers, not church answers. Build time into the rhythm of your leadership to evaluate. Don't be distracted by the urgency of now. Keep your eye on the ball.

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