Every single year in elementary school I got the same note in my report card: “hand writing needs improvement”
It was always an issue for me. Still is, actually… maybe it’s something to do with being left handed or something, I don’t know. Fortunately though, computers and typing hide the problem these days.
It can be tempting to hide the issues our ministry has - to just ignore the failings and focus on the good stuff. And there really is a lot of good stuff, too! But, I want to be a better leader next year than I was this year. I want to care for my people better next year than I did this year. I want to run better programming to meet the needs of our congregation and community next year than i did this year. The best way I’ve found to improve in these areas is through evaluation.
In our youth ministry we do meetings in June where we review every aspect of what we’ve done the previous year. Using the “SWOT” analysis, we walk through the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats within each aspect of our ministry. I encourage my leaders to give completely honest feedback and opinions. I need their input.
I get anxious about these meetings every year because, honestly, every area of our ministry needs improvement and, I know I can’t fix everything. There are multiple things I need to do better, start doing, stop doing. In fact, there are rarely things that our leaders bring up that I’m not already thinking about.
So, what are the benefits of doing all this evaluating then? Let me give you 3
- My leaders know the ministry - and how I operate within it - better than anyone else. They also have a perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of our ministry that I can miss. When I can get all of our leaders to contribute honestly in these conversations, we make great progress and I get better because of their input. It might sting a bit at the moment, but it’s worth it.
- I’m not the only one with good ideas. In fact, many of the best ideas for changes and improvements come from our leaders, not me. That’s not always easy to take - I pride myself on being the one with the strategic vision and plan and all that. So, taking suggestions from others isn’t something I do naturally. I have to deliberately approach these meetings with humility. Otherwise, I could miss great ideas because of my own pride.
- Buy in. If I want my leaders to be highly invested in our the ministry than they’re going to want a say in what’s happening. High investment comes with strong opinions. If every idea comes from me and is executed by me I risk losing my high calibre people who have the passion and ability to help shape the ministry. But, if we come to decisions as a team and commit to carrying them out together we get a lot more accomplished.
So, as your ministry year draws to a close take some time with the people who are most invested in you and your ministry to look at what needs improvement. Find a structure for these meetings that works in your setting and make it a tradition. You and your ministry will both be better for it.