Is it time for a check-up? Here’s a Program Evaluation Tool

SurveyNo matter what ministry you are involved with, periodic evaluation is necessary. Programs in children’s ministry can run for years with parents and volunteers assuming that everything is fine. But it’s important to take a step back every once and a while and really consider how a specific program is doing. Is it fulfilling its purpose? Is it meeting a current need?

Evaluation is important for every program in children’s ministry. If the program is doing well, then be encouraged. If it isn’t, then let me encourage you to use this as an opportunity for positive change!

The prospect of conducting an evaluation on a current ministry program can be daunting. Here is a tool that you can use to make the process simple yet effective.
This program evaluation tool uses 5 steps to conduct an evaluation and develop an action plan.

Step 1—Pray

This is the first step in an evaluation process, but it should also be sprinkled throughout the process. When doing an honest evaluation we need the Holy Spirit to guide us and convict us.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

In every situation, including embarking on an evaluation process, present your requests to God. And the promise is peace that will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.

So, pray before you begin and pray throughout the process.

Step 2—Define the Program

This particular evaluation tool was designed for one specific program at a time. During this step you will articulate the purpose, position on the children’s ministry spectrum, and vision of this particular program.

If you don’t have the answer to one or more of these questions, don’t worry. You can find the answer. It’s important to have these foundational things before you move on in the evaluation process.

Take the time you need to step out of the evaluation process and define the purpose of your program. Take a few minutes to plot where it is on the children’s ministry spectrum. Is it helping to fulfill the children’s ministry vision? If you need help with the children’s ministry spectrum or writing a vision statement, links are provided to articles that will help you.

Once you have defined the program, it’s time to move on to step 3.

Step3—Evaluate the Program

The program evaluation tool is divided into 4 categories: Purpose/Vision; Program/Curriculum; Volunteers; and Administration.  Within each category are a series of questions. To complete the evaluation, mark the column that best matches your answer to that question (“Absolutely”, “Somewhat”, “Not really”, or “Not at all”). Answer these questions as accurately as possible, taking into account the program’s current situation. Be careful not to answer based on what you want the answer to be but rather how it is right now. The more accurately you answer these questions now, the easier the next steps will become!

So be honest and take your time.

Step 4—Reflect on the Program

This section of the evaluation contains 3 questions for you to answer. These questions give you the opportunity to get down on paper your thoughts about this program. Use as much space and take as much time as you need. The answers you give here can help to reveal deeper thoughts and feelings about your program that you might not have answered in the evaluation chart in the previous step and these answers will help you as you go through the rest of this tool.

Step 5—Identify Next Steps

This sections contains a flowchart will help you identify potential next steps to take as a result of how you answered the evaluation questions. By the time you are finished you should have a list of things to do to improve your program.

Use the program evaluation tool to help you honestly evaluate your program and come up with a plan for what to do in the future.

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Great Idea for Mid-Week Clubs!

childrens ministry girls clubAre you thinking of starting a mid-week club program? Do you need to revamp your current club program?

Here’s an idea for a club program for girls in grades 5&6:

A few years ago we decided that we needed to refresh our club program. We decided to make our club programs outreach oriented. They were primarily for meeting and building relationships with the kids in our community. On the Children’s Ministry Spectrum, they would be considered outreach. Church kids were encouraged to come, but to invite their friends. We created 3 clubs – one for boys & girls in grades 1-3, one for girls in grades 4-6, and one for boys in grades 4-6. We decided to specialize.

The girls program was called GEMS. (Note: this had nothing to do with the GEMS girls club that has been around for a while. The names just ended up being the same.) We decided to do once a month events. We planned events that would interest girls of this age and then sent out invitations. Invitations were sent via email and snail mail. In the invitations, we encouraged the girls to invite their friends.

We planned a pajama party, a mani-pedi night, a games night, a cooking night, a movie night. We wanted it to be fun and interactive. We planned talks with the girls focusing on issues that they are dealing with – friends, relationships with parents, boys, health & diet. During these talks we brought up what God has to say about the issue. We didn’t plan Bible studies because it was an outreach event, but we did pray and talk about God. We introduced the girls to God and the fact that we can turn to God with our problems and trust Him to love us, care for us, and help us.

This new club format turned out to be very popular. We had 20-30 girls coming to each event (which for our church at the time was a lot!)
We then took the opportunity to invite these girls to VBS, to Sunday School, and to any other event going on at the church that would interest them.

If you are thinking about clubs, look at your children’s ministry spectrum and decide on the main purpose for your club program. If you want to start an outreach club program, use this idea as it is (if you like it!) or as a starting place for you to brainstorm with your volunteers.

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Children’s Ministry Spectrum

It can be difficult in children’s ministry to know what programs to run, what programs to continue, and what programs to stop using. There are so many options and so many fun things to do with kids.

Using a children’s ministry spectrum will help with the tough choices you need to make.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples.  As children’s ministry volunteers this is our commission. The children’s ministry spectrum uses this verse as a foundation.

The first step in the process is to go. There are children in our communities who need to hear of the love of God and the gift of salvation that is offered to them.

Outreach events

This is the first stop on the children’s ministry spectrum. Outreach involves meeting the kids in our communities, building relationships, and meeting their needs.

Outreach ideas include Breakfast Club at the local school, Mom & preschooler drop-in, Homework Club, Lego Club, Sports Camps, Drop-in programs after school, Mid-week clubs, after school care, drama camps, Christmas programs/parties, and Spring Break events.

It is so important to build relationships with kids and show our love by meeting their needs, but the command to make disciples requires us to share the gospel.  That is the next stop on the spectrum.

Evangelism

At some point we need to share the gospel with the kids we have been building relationships with. Especially when working with kids, the gospel needs to be shared more than once and in different ways. The truth of the gospel stays the same, the opportunities for sharing it, however, are many.

Evangelism opportunities include VBS, day camps, gospel-focused sports camps, backyard clubs, Christmas and Easter services, and one-on-one conversations.

Discipleship

New believers need to be given opportunities to grow in their faith and to fellowship with other believers.

Discipleship opportunities include individual or group mentoring, Sunday School, Children’s Church, Prayer Meetings, Mid-week clubs, Corporate Worship, and fellowship.

Service

Disciples need the opportunity to discover the gifts God has given them, develop them and then use them to serve in the church.

We need to give the kids in our care the opportunity to learn about Spiritual gifts, discover their gifts, and use their gifts in the church and community.

Missions

Disciples need the opportunity to go and make disciples themselves by being involved with missions. We need to give our kids opportunities to learn about missions, support missions, pray for missionaries & missions around the world, and be involved locally & globally.

These could include Missions events at the church, missions projects, opportunities to pray to missions, and community mission projects.

The children’s ministry spectrum provides a way for you to look at the children’s ministry of your church and see how you are doing in each area.

The spectrum is not made up of individual pieces, rather they blend together to create a cohesive children’s ministry.

I have created a worksheet for you to evaluate your current programs. It looks like this.

Print off this resource (PDF file) and plot your children’s ministry programs into the spectrum. Are there areas that are overwhelmed with programs? Are there areas that are lacking in programs?

I have also developed this wall poster for you to print and post on your wall to refer to.

I hope this is a useful tool for you and your team as you continue the work of children’s ministry in your church and community.

 

 

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