I am all about evaluation. Until we do things perfectly and people and situations never change, we alwau have to evaluate and adjust. My boss told me one time that my students were the most critical of all the students who filled out evaluations at at our annual state-wide event. I think that came from the fact that our students were very used to filling out evaluations and being in sessions where we evaluated different aspects of our ministry all the time.
It is my strongly held belief that radical change for a ministry each semester or year is the wrong thing to do. But, I am a big believer in tweaking.
If you are looking for a tool or list of questions to help you as you do semester end evaluations, let me recommend Stephen Lutz's "20 Questions for Mid-Year Evaluation" at www.stephenlutz.net.
Here is my different thought on evaluation.....we need the input of those students who no longer are part of our ministry. Here is where this thought comes from. I am strongly committed to the concept of a specialized freshmen ministry. I believe it is the single most effective way to reach more students. Some years ago we asked all the Freshmen involved in our Monday night Freshmen Family Groups to fill out an evaluation of all we had done that semester...Bible studies, individual ministry, etc. One thing we were trying to identify was how we could not have as high of an attrition or loss of students as the semester progressed.
The evaluations came back glowing. Our Freshmen Ministry was the best thing that ever happened. So, why did we lose students? Then, it dawned on me. We were asking the wrong students. We were asking the ones who stayed involved.....we needed to be asking the ones who had dropped out! A business would not ask happy customers why some customers were unhappy.
So, three thoughts as you evaluate. First, if you have students fill out evaluations, do one at mid-semester....not just at the end of the semester. This will give you a wider Range of viewpoints than from just those who love everything you are doing and will stay with you no matter what.
Second, it is too late to do mid-semester evaluations now. So, identify some students who started the fall
strongly involved in your ministry and did not finish. Then, ask some of your students who know them to take them a comment or evaluation sheet to fill out......without signing it. You can mail something to them with a return envelope at their home address over the holidays. But, the return rate on this is very low. The personal contact is the best way to get a response.
Third, ask two or three students no longer involved if you can buy their lunch. Tell them your purpose is to continue to make the ministry more effective and their honest feedback would be very helpful.
Evaluation requires a clear-eyed view of things. Perhaps those that are not our fans can give it best. At least, it will point to what they see as lacking in your ministry. However, sometimes students dropped out because they did not share your purpose. Don't let that shake your resolve if you believe in your calling and purpose. One of our student leaders told me one time that several students he had been inviting to our outreach Lunch Program said they would come, if it were not always a Christian speaker or emphasis. My response was, "Then, they won't come because we are doing a Christian event.".