I just recently read a survey that indicated that a majority of Americans think one news network is most unbiased, but that a majority of Americans prefer to watch another news network. Truth is sometimes unpleasant. We want our way. I find this same sort of dichotomy true in church and College Ministry.
I serve in a church that has declined some in recent years. When I have raised that concern in some of our meetings, I've been asked to not talk about that. It's negative. In College Ministry we have to report to those above us and justify what we are doing and to encourage folks to continue their financial support. So, we usually try to accentuate the positive.
Are we being honest with ourselves about where our ministry is? I don't want to discourage anyone and I am all about encouraging those who do College Ministry. It is hard work with mixed results. But, I also believe for our ministry to be what and all that God wants it to be, we must see it realistically and honestly. How do you do that?
I am a big believer in anonymous surveys. At different times in a school year, I have sent a brief questionnaire to a group of students and asked them to return it in an enclosed envelope unsigned. I have even done the same thing with local pastors. It can be pretty simple. I can be the King of Simple.
1. What do you see as the strength of our ministry or what we do best?
2. What do you see as one area that needs improving or changing in our ministry?
3. What do you see as the strength of my personal ministry?
4. What is one thing you would like to see me change, add or do differently?
You could pass something like this out in your leadership meeting or even in your weekly large group meeting. Now, here are a couple of warnings:
1. Don't let one huge negative comment ruin your day or week or cause you to quit the ministry. There is always a sorehead or two.
- Look for patterns. Does more than one person mention the same thing?
2. Don't weight the negative comments heavier than the positive.
- In fact, the positive comments may tell you that you need to do more of what you are doing well, instead of fixing something that is broken.
3. Sometimes you have to interpret their comments. What does that mean? You may need to go back to your leadership and say, "Here is a comment or two that someone made that I need you to help me understand".
4. Remember, truth (if it is truth) is always our friend.
Sometimes hearing some thing is not easy. But, if you were looking for easy, you would not be in College Ministry! Seeing and understanding truth can strengthen our ministry. Everybody knows College Ministers are the best ministers!!