What are your criteriaIf you simply gather your team or pull people together to do an evaluation of some particular ministry event, people will give assessment: this was good, this wasn’t good. That is everyone coming at the issue from their own perceptions. Each person has their own internal grid of what’s important to them, and most people are not aware of their own grids.

I’ve found that it’s helpful to have people articulate their own criteria before making judgments. I ask them to brainstorm the criteria they are using to evaluate. When we are doing an evaluation, what are the criteria we use to assess our effectiveness?

For example, let’s take a youth ministry. “Is it fun?” is an important criterion. If a youth group is not perceived to be fun, it really doesn’t matter what else you do. Kids won’t come. However, if all you have is fun, then it’s just a social club, not a youth group. So there must be additional criteria. Did they learn something? Did they develop new skills? Are new relationships being formed? Are kids taking the next steps to deepen their relationship with God and others? Are they moving into serving others?

I was coaching someone once who had the assignment to evaluate all the different church planter training systems out there, then to make a recommendation. I asked him, “What are the criteria you’re going to use to assess them?” After he had a list of 5 to 7 criteria, I asked him, “What’s the relative importance of each of those?” Of his list of 5 to 7, he realized that three were truly essential—the others were not as critical but would be good to have.

In his case, he weighted the critera, which in that case gave him a clearer picture of how to evaluate the ministry. Assess what’s truly important in your ministry, and then evaluate accordingly.