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My rant on ministry evaluations and “key result areas”

My rant on ministry evaluations and key result areasThe poor guy below wrote me a while back asking a pretty simple question, but I ended up going on a rant. Sorry! lol I would love to hear input from all you guys in the comments below.

My pastor asked me to look around at some other youth ministries and see what they set and use to evaluate their ministries. He suggested that I set up some “Key Result Areas” to use for our ministry here. I realize that some of this is dependent on personal context, but I would be interested to hear if any others, including you, have done work with KRAs. What are the KRAs of youth ministry that exist in almost any context?

I haven’t formally done anything like this before, but I do meet with the youth pastors in my community every Tuesday morning and talk. We did an informal discussion once about the percentage of students who are connected to our church in some way versus the percentage of students who are actually involved in the ministry. My ministry is at about 50-60% involvement, which I thought was horrible until the other guys said they were closer to 25-35% involvement. Now I don’t feel so bad.

But that’s the problem — we should never use other ministries for the standard of evaluating our own ministry. It’s not “how they’re doing” versus “how we’re doing.” And I know you’re not asking in a competitive sense, but for all practical purposes, that’s exactly where the focus goes. There’s nothing wrong with taking your community’s demographics into consideration as part of your strategy, but don’t use the success or failure of other ministries as a basis for evaluation. The danger is, if you happen to be on the top of the totem pole, you start to feel the same way I did: content. As long as there are still unsaved people in this world, I should never be content with my ministry’s “performance.”

Instead, I use scripture for the basis of our evaluation. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 says, “…God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” And the Great Commission in Matthew 28, of course, along with 1 Peter and Hebrews challenging believers to grow into full maturity, not stuck on spiritual milk. God wants 1,000,000% growth, not numbers who are involved versus not involved, as if that could somehow determine spirituality.

What I care about most, and I’m sure you do, too, is that I’ll hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” My ministry will never meet up to His standards, I know. As long as there are lost people in my community and believers who need to grow deeper in the Word, I’ll never feel like my ministry is “doing okay” or “meeting expectations.” It’s all about Him and what scripture indicates a ministry should do and what it should look like. So I’d encourage you to start there. Besides, no life-change or spiritual growth happens apart from the Holy Spirit’s prompting and conviction anyway. Whatever the Key Area Results are for my community, the Holy Spirit can (and wants to!) radically change that. Sometimes I think we approach ministry from a business perspective instead of a spiritual perspective.

What do you think? I’d love to dialog about this a bit because I’ve never really thought through a KRA before, so I’d love to hear your thoughts.

NOTE: Obviously I know that careful ministry evaluations are important and very necessary — this post is not questioning that. Rather, it’s challenging the yard stick we sometimes use to measure our ministries and the conclusions we draw from it.


Posted on March 25, 2009

  • Evaluating your ministry IS important, but how is the evaluating being done. When YW’s start comparing their ministry to the one down the street then the focus is no longer on the power of the Holy Spirit to work within the ministry. Instead the ministry is approached like McDonald’s and Burger King on the same street competing for business. I believe too many students are suffering spiritually because their YW’s are too busy doing KRA surveys. I think of Paul and how from time to time he would evaluate his ministry, but it was from the personal level and how HE himself was doing spiritually. We need to take our eyes off of what the “other” church or YW’s are doing (stop comparing from a business or competitive view) or not doing and focus on our own ministry. Want to evaluate your ministry? Ask God; “How am I doing Lord? Am I a faithful servant? Is there anything in my life that his hindering the work you want to accomplish through me? How are my students? Is there something among them I need to be aware of?

    Evaluating our ministries must start with God (Matt 6:33). Just like everything else in life.

  • PJ

    i agree. always so easy to compare and contrast to say “lets do it their way” or “they aren’t doing it our way”, etc.
    I believe a downfall of some management teams is perhaps that they want growth so bad that they are willing to go into pragmatics or mimic in hopes that the same will happen in a different place.
    Does this have anything to do with our north american motto of “bigger is better”? I think a little bit!

    thanks for the rant tim, i enjoyed it.

  • Mark Matlock

    I use the formula below for creating a youth ministry success index:

    ((yearly budget) divided by (square footage of youth room)) divided by ( average weekly attendance) divided by ((number of annual salvations to the power of (number of baptisms resulting)) = (ym success index)

    I have my lawyer write it into my executive employment contract with the church and receive a per annum increase in salary as the index climbs. this is all handled by a lower tier member of my youth ministry accounting staff.

    It’s really clear and simple. Not to mention effective. Not at all a fuzzy metric like Holy Spirit activity.

  • I have used KRAs and SWOPs to evaluate our ministry. Not only do I think it is good to evaluate (My Junior High guy and I are planning a one day retreat to do exactly that in May), but setting up KRAs is very helpful. In addition learning what other ministries use for their KRAs can be helpful as well. The misconception is that this is a comparison…it doesn’t have to be. Instead we can learn and think better about ministry if we do it together. That is why Tim has this web site, does the podcasts, and is involved in making resources available.

    KRAs can be things like percentage of students that bring their Bibles or percentage of students who are in a small group or attendance or it could have to do with number of students trained in evangelism etc… A KRA can help us focus our ministry on the things we find important and they can change for different seasons. SWOPs help us determine how effective we have beeen by measuring our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and Problems. I will blog on how to use these in the next few days and make a simple form available for doing this in your groups on my web site.

  • @John Byrne: I’d love to read how you guys use them! Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

    • have you ever gone through any of the old Sonlife training?

  • @Mark Matlock: Oh, so very helpful! Thank you! lol

  • I think KRAs are something just about any youth worker uses but just not on a statistical, analytical level. It seems to me that these are areas most of us observe among our students, but probably don’t “track” necessarily. Growing up in a Southern Baptist Church, I remember filling out a weekly offering envelope that had an inventory for “attended Sunday School”, “gave offering”, “brought Bible”, “brought a visitor”, “studied my SS lesson”, etc. In an effort to track these KRAs, I think the church kind of missed the boat. Following Christ is a mysterious adventure. I know numbers and trends are important, but I think reducing it to statistics and numbers takes a lot of the faith and mystique out of leading students in a quest to follow a God they can’t see. Maybe the deepest kid in my group never brings his Bible or the one who always has his bible is in need of the most help? Can we really put imperical indicators on spiritual growth? Also, how do we track KRA’s without regularly grilling our students with a ridiculous set of questions?

  • We may not be able to use empirical data to measure the spiritual maturity of our group, but as our group grows larger that data along side our own observations and the observations of our leaders can be very helpful.

    @ Tim Schmoyer here is the blog I published regarding how to evaluate your ministry using KRAs and a couple other acronyms: http://pjs-web.blogspot.com/

  • Great! Thanks, John. Heading there to read it right now.

  • Maybe it has more to do with noticing if our students are becoming more loving, more joyful, more patient, etc.

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