Have you ever seen those extreme close-up pictures where you guess what the object is? It’s hard because we don’t often look that closely at what is around us. But when it comes to kids ministry, the opposite is sometimes true. We spend so much time and energy looking at our weekly or daily activities, we can forget to zoom out and evaluate our overall ministry. Is our ministry healthy? Are we moving toward our goals?
When Collins examined great companies, he saw that each one had leaders who zoomed out and honestly evaluated their businesses—even if it was difficult or painful. But no matter what these leaders saw, they didn’t despair because they had unwavering confidence they would prevail. As Collins put it, you confront the brutal facts (yet never loses faith).
As you evaluate your kids ministry, you may encounter at least a few “brutal facts” even if things are going great. There are always areas of concern. However, don’t forget our unwavering confidence is in God, the One at work in our kids ministries, prevailing no matter what. That is why we should never lose hope!
Here are six tips to keep in mind as you evaluate your kids ministry:
- Start with the end goal in mind. Sometimes a kids ministry is considered healthy if kids are attending and if they and their parents seem to be satisfied. Now, there is nothing at all wrong with those two measures, but they don’t give you the full picture of your ultimate goal of anchoring the gospel in your kids’ hearts. That end goal needs to drive how you evaluate every part of your kids ministry.
- Focus on lead measures. A lead measure is something you can control that produces a result, also called a lag measure. So a lead measure would be inviting kids to an event and a corresponding lag measure would be attendance at the event. You can’t control people showing up, but you can control inviting people. As you evaluate your ministry, be sure to put your lead measures under the microscope because they will have the greatest impact on your ministry effectiveness.
- Evaluate objectively and subjectively. Analyze as many objective numbers as you can—they tell a story, but they don’t tell the full story. There is no way to quantify gospel transformation; a big part of it is qualitative, or subjective. Do you see the gospel sinking in? Do you see evidence of gospel transformation? Those are important evaluative considerations.
- Strengthen what is going well. You probably know the strengths of your kids ministry before you even start evaluating it, but your evaluations should confirm them. A common mistake is to neglect the areas of strength and focus on weaknesses. Do the opposite. Pour as many additional resources into where you are winning to win even more. This will be the topic of the next blog.
- Fix what can go better. While you want to focus on your strengths, you don’t want to neglect the areas where you do need to improve. Figure out where you should be in these areas and why you aren’t there, and then come up with a plan to start moving that direction.
- Scrap what isn’t working at all. This is the hardest of all. As you evaluate your kids ministry, you may find that there are things that just aren’t working at all. Most broken and ineffective activities drain your resources. Bathe these in prayer and once you confirm that they need to stop, stop them as quickly and gently as possible. Yes, this will be painful, but in the end your kids ministry will be better for it.
Brian Dembowczyk is the team leader for The Gospel Project for Kids. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Brian, his wife, and their three children live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where Brian enjoys drinking coffee and teaching 1st-3rd graders at church each week.