Maybe it’s because after the Christmas holidays I’ve had time to think instead of continually running on the treadmill of life.
For a couple of weeks, I was able to step off the treadmill and had some time to survey what it is that I do on a regular basis.
For me, at least, evaluation happens more informally than formally. Perhaps I should “program-in” formal evaluation times for my life and ministry, but in real life it seems to happen more on an informal basis, like, for example, when I’m on vacation. Don’t get me wrong, I do regularly reflect back on ministry events like our Christmas parties, monthly outings, and Lock-Ins and critique and make any necessary notes for changes in the future. After each Sunday school teaching time or middle school youth night, I am always assessing how things went and tweaking things and messing with things as I go. So perhaps I do have “programmed-in” formal-type evaluation time set in. It seems it’s built in to me to at least think and make simple corrections as life and ministry progresses.
However, I don’t always formally evaluate my parenting practices and style. My wife often evaluates that for me, informally as we go! I don’t typically formally evaluate the huge ministry categories (like Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle School, Family Ministry, etc) like I should. Instead, evaluation tends to look pretty informal like the weekly tweaks and subtle corrections I mentioned above.
I don’t know, maybe I’m scared to stop and formally evaluate… no, I don’t think that’s it (although it might be a fear for some people). Maybe it just takes too much time. I don’t know.
What I do know is that when I stop, whether that is on vacation or when I am removed from my normal pace of life and ministry (i.e. at a conference or another kind of trip), I have the time to pause, reflect, think, strategize and plan. These times are really helpful for me to do some more formal-type evaluation instead of just the informal stuff as I go along.
Here are some questions I both formally ask myself (and others) as well as informally ask when I’m evaluating:
- If I was a student sitting and listening to me teach, would I be bored?
- Will these students remember what our scope and sequence is? …our overall teaching plan?
- What would my own children say to another adult if asked how their dad treats them?
- Are students picking up on the “hidden” curriculum (things like a heart for God, a love for following Jesus, and life in the Spirit), or is the curriculum you are using get in the way of the hidden?
- Am I serving the curriculum’s needs, or is the curriculum serving our children’s needs?
- Are the students having fun?
- What would they say to a friend at school if asked what they do at church?
- What would a parent say if they were to be a part of your Sunday School class time?
- What do you think a volunteer says to a friend about the ministry program they are involved in with you?
- Does my wife speak well of me as her husband to others?
Evaluation is not just a ministry enhancement endeavor. Evaluation has, at its heart and purest intent, a kingdom of God type ethic attached to it. Assessment helps to realign our fallible human hearts and intentions with God’s infallible character and will. Whether in ministry, or as a parent, or an employee, or a spouse, we all need to be both formally and informally evaluating and aligning our hearts with the insanely wise heart of God.