We created an event evaluation that uses an easy framework to both celebrate and evaluate any ministry event. The first half focuses on what went well. The second section discusses what could have gone better. This is a personal evaluation. As you work through these questions, be open, honest, and transparent.
A word of warning: In any ministry event evaluation, please don’t solely focus on what went wrong. You can learn so much from what went well too. Be sure to let celebration kick off your conversation. As people discuss the highlights, you will start to see themes. Awareness of those themes will dramatically improve future events and planning. If people loved it, embrace it. If it didn’t work, change it.
Our Inspiration: Why We Needed a Ministry Event Evaluation
One of my favorite things in the whole world is casual hangouts at a friend’s house. Maybe we watch a movie, cook up a meal, or just sit on the porch to play board games. I live for those moments. Thus, I assumed our students would enjoy the same thing. I pitched these non-structured events called “House Hangouts” to our youth directors. We all nodded and made the plans. We asked two families in the church to host our students over the summer. One house was for high schoolers and the other was for middle schoolers. The invitations were sent out, the calendar was updated, and we just waited on the chill vibes and good times.
The chill vibes never came, especially in the middle school ministry. Nearly thirty kids showed up to hang out in someone’s living room. Chaos ensued. Things were broken, leaders hit a breaking point, and things went missing from the volunteer host homes. The staff spent countless hours simply apologizing to the people who opened up their homes. It just didn’t work. Honestly, it was a dumpster fire of failure.
Learning from Mistakes
Mistakes can actually be good! It means you took a risk. It means you did something that scared you. Here is more good news. Mistakes are not a dead end, they’re just a delay. Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s actually a vital part of it. Failure is not final. A misstep can actually be a stepping stone when approached wisely.
So, when you make a mistake, ask yourself these questions:
- What were my mistakes?
- Did any bad habits trigger it?
- What can I learn from this?
- What is my next move?
Let’s dissect these four questions to ask ourselves when we make mistakes in ministry:
What were my mistakes?
My mistake was assuming that what worked for me would work for an eleven-year-old. Talk about a lapse in judgment. I should have thought about the age and stage of our students. Furthermore, if I am really honest, these events sounded like an easy change of pace for summer. It was sort of a cop-out, right? “Let’s just bring the kids into a random living room for a couple of hours,” was also code for “we don’t want to plan that much for the small crowds of summer.” When radically honest with myself, I can begin to see my flawed thinking at the forefront of the problem.
Did any bad habits trigger this?
My bad habits were a two-part cocktail of assumptions and laziness. Since I essentially do this as a volunteer, I wanted to do the easiest possible thing. I learned that what was easy in planning was very difficult in practice. If we had just sat down and made some structured programming, then many of the surprises would have been avoided. How? Because they weren’t surprises at all. We should have given thought to the numbers, space, and structure of the meetings. A little critical analysis would have led to a different solution.
What can I learn from this?
Primarily we learned that a solid structure is important for students. When that wasn’t there, chaos took over. Don’t get me wrong. House Hangouts weren’t a catastrophic failure. The high school house had powerful discussions. The middle school house had fun. Our team handled it like champions. No one got hurt and the damage was….minor.
However, I can see how a few more rambunctious kids and a couple of leader call-outs could have created an unmanageable mess. Our team handled it and the students had a wonderful time. Nevertheless, I can see some possible outcomes that could have been much worse.
This meant that we needed to scrap the plan and rebuild it. This brings us to the final question.
What is my next move?
We decided to move our gatherings to a church building instead of a volunteer’s house. It was a planned and structured hangout. We brought games. Then, we organized reflection questions. We gave the students three clearly-defined blocks — devotional, discussion, and action (movement/games). Our work to plan well in the office allowed the programming to go well at the church.
When everyone gathered, we saw authentic connection, application, and discussion take place. Why? Because we put in the work to prevent a repeat of the same mistakes.
As you can see, when approached well, failure was actually a tremendous teacher. We learned a lot about our students and it changed the way we built events in the future. Ultimately, since we took the time to reflect, we achieved a better ministry plan.
This should be our mindset in ministry. Success is progress. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes honest inventory and transparent assessments. When you commit to learning from your mistakes, you will become a better minister and leader.
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!
The pastors on our team would love to learn more about you and your ministry to help you apply these leadership lessons in your church. Send us an email at Pastor@ForMinistryResources.com or click the button below to schedule a call with a pastor. We hope to hear from you soon!
THIS BLOG CONTAINS LEADERSHIP MATERIAL FROM THE PASTOR CIRCLE. WHAT IS THE PASTOR CIRCLE?
We recently asked ourselves, “how can we serve pastors more personally?” The Pastor Circle is the answer.
It’s a virtual small group community of pastors who understand what you’re going through and want to offer you godly support and guidance. We meet on Zoom once a month to listen to a short devotional and topic introduction, followed by a small group discussion. We hope to see you there next month! Click here to learn more.