Why Do Some Churches Have Ministry Evaluations?
There is a part of me that loves to read ministry evaluations; there is so much encouraging information found in most ministry evaluations. However, there is a part of me that hates the preparation for these and the constant ‘begging’ folks to fill these things out. So why do some churches have periodic ministry evaluations? This can be answered by other questions: Why do the church leaders want these? They may want them for several reasons: to give an account to those ‘above’ them, to give more resources, to offer support, to create new budgets, to pray over them, etc.
What helpful information do ministry evaluations supply church leaders, deacons and ministry leaders? Once again, these are discovered by asking questions:
Are you on course? Because deacons and ministry leaders need to know if they are reaching their goals. Evaluation forms guide them through this simple process. If they are not on course, they can get back on course.
Are you fulfilling your ministry’s mission statement? Many ministries just float along and most never have a mission statement. Those which have mission statements need to evaluate themselves to determine if they are fulfilling their original purpose. If they aren’t, they may want/need to change their mission statement, revise it or cease to exist as a ministry if the need is no longer there.
Are you funded? What other resources do you need? Evaluations allow ministry leaders to ask for more money if needed in the middle of the fiscal year and to ask for new money before the beginning of a new fiscal year.
Are you accountable? Evaluations allow/give the opportunity for ministry leaders to give an account of how they are using the resources entrusted to them. Accountability is huge to the Lord and it should be huge to the church also.
Wise church leaders and ministry leaders will welcome such accountability.
How Should Evaluations Look or be Worded? You must…
Determine your questions. Your questions must be relevant to your local and congregational needs. You need to know what information you want and incorporate it into your evaluation form. Please request a copy of my evaluations if you need a starting point. Also, you may place questions in these evaluations such as “how may the church staff or leadership assist you?.”
Determine how often you need evaluations. Some church leaders want quarterly evaluations, others twice a year and some only once a year. You’ve got to do what’s best for your congregation.
What are the Preferred Results? What is the ultimate goal of ministry evaluations?
Good stewardship. Fulfilled intentional purposes. Accountability. Encouragement. On all levels: such things positively affect the ministry leaders but also those involved in his/her ministry and the leadership (above them) also become more involved and interested in the ministry and they (the paid staff and the church leaders) also are accountable to the Lord and to those who give. But I suppose the greater benefactors are those who are served by these ministries. It is a win-win for all involved.
What If Ministry Leaders Will Not Cooperate?
In some ways, this is difficult to answer. Generally speaking, unless a ministry has a multi-thousand dollar budget, full time/part time staff, dozens of volunteers and serves scores of people, an evaluation takes two to five minutes to fill out. However, here are some suggestions to you as an elder, deacon or involvement minister:
- Have an understanding with ministry leaders that periodic evaluations will take place—preferably before they start leading a ministry. This is the ideal time to inform and train them in this.
- If they are already leading a ministry, they still need to be informed of ‘why’ this is being done and ‘how often’ it will be done. Questions need to be answered at the time of informing also. Use #3 to gently remind them ‘why’ evaluations are done.
- We expect and demand accountability at work, by our government, by our schools, by charitable organizations to which we give and yes, even our local church. When we ask folks to give their hard-earned money, valuable time and limited energy, we should feel an obligation and responsibility to win and keep their confidence. Note: our older members are most trusting in this area. However, some millennials feel entitled to such accountability.
- Suggest that each ministry leader assign someone in his/her ministry the job of keeping up with events, money spent, number of folks served, etc.(e.g. the information requested on the evaluation forms) and to give that information to the ministry leader upon request (so he/she can fill out the form) . Some ministry leaders are not good at details. This is just one more opportunity of service for someone in the church.
- Give your ministry leaders time to fill the forms out and return them to you. I usually give them six weeks. Six weeks before they are due, I send them copy-pasted and file-attached in emails. Paper copies are given to folks who do not do email.
I have found that most volunteer ministry leaders are busy people; they have families, jobs, hobbies, church attendance/activities/events, school activities, recreation and a host of other important things pulling at them. Gentle regular reminders go a long way in getting the information you need from your ministry leaders for your church leader. Sometimes you may have to make a personal contact by phone or in person to get the information, but the benefits are worth the efforts. Trav