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This is a Test!

Practical ways to discover if your ministry is
making the grade.

“Class, Take out a piece of paper and a pencil.”

Remember how your heart raced when a teacher blurted out those

Pop quiz!

Ugh! You’d rather do anything than take a test. Right?

As painful as tests were at times, they provided our teachers with
a helpful way of assessing how we were growing as students. In the
same way, giving your ministry periodic tests can also help you
assess the growth of your children, staff, ministry programs, and

When was the last time your ministry had a checkup? Assessing the
details of your ministry will help guide your ministry as you seek
to live out God’s calling to change children’s lives for Christ. A
ministry of excellence is clear on its ministry progress and is
continually adapting, changing, and growing to meet the spiritual,
emotional, and social needs of its children and families. Where is
your ministry? To find out, take out a piece of paper and a


Evaluation is only effective if you have a clearly defined purpose
or mission statement. If not, do that first. How can you know if
you’ve hit the target if you don’t know what the target is?
Evaluation helps you know if you’re achieving what you’ve set out
to accomplish.

Evaluation helps your planning process; helps assess the progress
of your children and families in fulfilling your ministry’s purpose
statement; and also helps you know what to communicate to children,
parents, volunteers, and your church family. Evaluation examines
the difference between your vision and what you’re currently
providing to help create new ministry goals and plans.


Evaluating or measuring your ministry results against your purpose
may seem rudimentary, but many churches make little or no effort to
assess results, either in terms of ministry program objectives,
ministry procedures, or children’s and family’s satisfaction. To
decide what to evaluate, begin with clear, defined values, goals,
and objectives that are consistent in fulfilling your ministry’s
purpose. From your clearly defined goals or vision, evaluate all
that you offer. For example, does your curriculum meet all the
objectives as defined in the values you’ve established for your
ministry? Is your facility child-friendly, inviting, and
representative of your ministry? Do the programs you offer meet the
spiritual, emotional, and social needs of children? What is your
parents’ satisfaction level with the ministry you offer to

It’s easy to place our primary focus of importance on the big
picture. However, it’s in the details that the big picture is
clearly brought into focus. A great architect once said, “God is in
the details.” Evaluating and paying attention to all the details
and aspects of your ministry turns it into a ministry of


To improve your ministry with children and families, evaluate the
details of your ministry daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and
annually — carefully examining what you’re doing and

For example, you may assess your facility and what it communicates
about your ministry by doing a weekly walk-through, taking note of
the physical condition of the rooms and equipment. From this
evaluation, develop and implement goals and plans to help with
maintenance and improvement. At the United Methodist Church of the
Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, we complete a weekly facility
maintenance report for each room, hallway, entranceway, and
restroom in the children’s ministry area. Details of this
evaluation tool include equipment and facility repair needs, room
cleanliness, and needed supplies. From this report, we develop a
weekly action plan with the church facility ministry and the
children’s ministry team.

You, also, could implement an evaluation tool after each weekend
for your Sunday school. What went well? What could be improved
upon? Other evaluations may be quarterly or yearly, based on the
time and length of the ministry. Of primary importance is that the
details of your ministry are evaluated on an ongoing basis
throughout the year.


When deciding how to evaluate, it’s important to choose a variety
of methods. By using different tools, you’ll have a more
comprehensive review of your ministry. The results of your
evaluation should also be put in writing for future review and
The following are examples of evaluation tools.


Ministry reports may include a weekly facility report as discussed
above, a monthly review of the financial report, a weekly review of
Sunday school or weekday programming, or an achievement


This is a great way to gather ideas, perceptions, and information
about your ministry. During a brainstorming session, no ideas or
thoughts are rejected; all ideas are discussed and evaluated. This
is an evaluation method that has been used effectively at our
church with our children’s ministry volunteer leadership team,
staff, and children’s volunteers. In these brainstorming sessions,
we’ve examined such topics as identifying the spiritual and
emotional needs of our children; answering the question “Is our
worship child-friendly?” or “What’s the state of our children’s
volunteers?” During a brainstorming session, it’s helpful to have a
guided and specific list of questions to keep the participants on
track. From these brainstorming evaluations, develop action plans
to meet your ministry objectives.


Round-table evaluation involves meeting with selected focus groups
of four to 10 people to discuss current ministry programs, issues,
concerns, future needs, hopes, or dreams. These people can be
children, parents, volunteers, or leadership teams.

For example, to evaluate and collect information on a key issue,
invite a selected group of participants to a morning coffee or
weeknight dessert. Children would love to eat pizza or ice cream
with you! Establish ongoing round-table groups to evaluate the
details of your ministry. By involving people in the process,
they’ll take ownership of the ideas and be passionate about seeing
the vision realized. You can use the same format for the
brainstorming evaluations to guide your round-table


This method of evaluation is important when you understand that
part of your ministry success depends on parents’ and children’s
satisfaction with the programs you’re providing. You can conduct
effective surveys on a quarterly, semiannual, or annual basis.
Parent surveys assist in collecting information about perceived
strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Research recommends that you
survey all parents/children at the beginning of the Sunday school
year to collect bench-mark data and information to assist in
planning. By administering the same survey periodically over the
course of the year, you can measure, change, and redirect your
course, if necessary. It’s also helpful to have parents and
children provide feedback on special programs immediately after the

The likelihood of a survey being returned depends on how easily
understood the questions are and how easy it is for the participant
to complete the survey. It’s more likely that a participant will
complete the survey when he or she is able to choose a
multiple-choice response with a clearly identified value, such as
1=Needs to Improve; 2=Fair; 3=Good; and 4=Excellent. A survey
response may be as simple as True or False. You may also want to
allow for brief comments and remarks at the end of the


As a ministry leader, it’s critical to assess your current
ministry offerings in relation to your purpose statement. Using
your purpose and value statement, make a list of what programs and
ministries you’re offering to fulfill your mission. What is it that
you’re offering that you want to keep? What needs to be improved
upon? What needs to change? What aspects of your ministry offerings
aren’t consistent with your ministry values? What ministry programs
or procedures need to be added to help fulfill your purpose

In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul writes, “Examine yourselves to see
whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.” Paul urged the
Corinthians to examine and test themselves to see if they were
really growing as Christians and actively seeking Christ’s presence
and power in their lives. We should do the same with ourselves and
the people in our ministries.


The use of rubrics has become a popular trend in the field of
education as a form of assessment and evaluation. A rubric is used
in the education world as not only an easy method for evaluation,
but also as a way to determine the quality standards of a
particular assignment or program. The rubric method can easily be
used as an evaluation tool for ministry-to help determine a
program’s effectiveness as well as set standards for

A rubric contains four basic components: a benchmark or standard
of performance; a desired goal or result; elements that need to be
performed to achieve what’s desired; and clear criteria of
acceptable and unacceptable performance.

For example, if you’re trying to evaluate volunteer satisfaction,
a helpful rubric would begin like this.

• Benchmark: Volunteer satisfaction
• Desired goal: Every volunteer position filled.
• Meeting that goal: Recruitment, training, affirmation, and
• Criteria of performance: 1=excellent, 2=acceptable, 3=improving,
and 4=not acceptable. (Each performance level should provide
descriptive criteria for every element measured)

After having volunteers complete this or any rubric, take the
process beyond the evaluation stage. A rubric enables you to not
only discover if your volunteers are satisfied overall, but also to
pinpoint weak and strong areas of satisfaction. In your weak areas,
set a standard and goal to work toward. Specific feedback gives
clear direction to leadership in how to make changes that’ll result
in quality ministry.

Please rate each element in our children’s ministry, according to
your level of satisfaction. (1=excellent, 2=acceptable,
3=improving, and 4=not acceptable)

The Sample Rubric:

Volunteer Recruitment
1 2 3 4

Volunteer Training
1 2 3 4

Volunteer Affirmation
1 2 3 4

Volunteer Retention
1 2 3 4

For more information about rubrics, log on to:
Explains the basics of the rubrics method.
A site that is more in-depth in its explanation of rubrics and
also provides a variety of references.
Provides the benefits of using a rubrics system along with a
sample rubric.
This site provides a variety of samples to follow when designing a
Carmen Kamrath

Debi Nixon is the children’s ministry director at United
Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas.

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