The PIE Model (see PIE for Parish Leaders & Staff ) is divided into three key components. This week we will explore the ingredients of Component III: Evaluation.
As noted in previous blog postings on the PIE Model, this component may be the least understood and least utilized component of the PIE Model. Factors contributing to the lack of ministry evaluation by staff and leaders may include:
- pervasive belief that church ministry cannot be measured
- annual & long-term planning efforts do not include identification of outcomes to be measured
- limited training in and understanding of evaluation techniques
- limited time to complete evaluations due to significant work accountabilities
- no link between achievement of planned ministry outcomes and performance management systems
- lack of confidence that our church ministry is making a measurable difference
Effective evaluation efforts are a critical ingredient to continuously improve our ministry implementation and achieve our planned ministry outcomes. Without evaluation data, we are blindly moving forward without the benefit of regular feedback and opportunities for growth. Rather than fear this feedback, we must eagerly embrace it as a way of improving our ministry impact.
Frequency of Evaluation
One key to successful evaluation is scheduled progress evaluation steps. Frequency of evaluation depends on the scope of the ministry and the frequency of ministry activity. For example:
Weekly Liturgical Ministry – This ministry scope covers all church members and occurs at least weekly. Because of the centrality and importance of this ministry, weekly evaluation meetings should be scheduled that review the previous week’s ministry outcomes.
Capital Campaign (3 years)- Once the ongoing campaign contribution phase begins, campaign staff and leaders should monitor pledge fulfillment at least quarterly, ensuring that campaign communications and progress reporting are encouraging contribution levels in line with projected giving patterns for this church.
Annual Financial Stewardship - Giving patterns are one measure of the vitality of a church community. Although they can be tracked more frequently, they are easily measured annually. This allows comparison of giving from the previous year and can also be tracked across multiple years to allow graphing of multi-year trend lines of various components of giving.
Adult Bible Study program (10 weeks)- Based on ministry outcomes developed during planning of the program, participants, leaders and associated staff should complete a one-time evaluation of actual outcomes at the end of the 10-week session.
Evaluation techniques can be characterized by many factors. Two types of evaluation characteristics often discussed are quantitative and qualitative evaluations.
Quantitative evaluations involve numerical measurements to indicate ministry success or trends. A good example would be measuring attendance at weekend liturgical services. Regularly measured in the same process, the number of attendees can then be used, for example, to:
- compare to the previous week (same year)
- compare to the same week (previous year)
- compare annually from year to year to establish a trend line for the church (growing or shrinking attendance)
- calculate % of attendees versus total registered membership
Qualitative evaluations involve measuring people’s perception of program participation. Using the adult Bible study program example, you might ask participants at the end of the 10-week session to respond to several questions or requests for comments such as:
- share your experience using the materials provided for study
- was the facilitator’s knowledge and style supportive of your learning goals
- did the program meet your expectations for participation in this program – why or why not
- based on your experience, would you encourage others to attend the next session – why or why not
There are many ways to measure outcomes. Some of the more common tools are:
- general surveys – Surveys can be presented in hard copy and electronic formats. It is important to design surveys that can generate the information that you seek. One guideline: if you are not sure why you are asking a question – don’t ask that question. If the survey is studying a critical area of evaluation for the parish, use of a trained survey developer is highly recommended.
- focus groups – Focus groups are gatherings of individuals affected by or participants in a ministry area. The group participates in a facilitated discussion that seeks to obtain feedback helpful in evaluating past efforts and planning future efforts.
- end of presentation/program surveys – Participants are asked to rate key aspects of the presentation or program that will guide future planners in designing similar programs or events.
- one-to-one discussions – A staff member or leader invites another person to discuss their response to a ministry program. The conversation is usually recorded confidentially and is blended with other discussion feedback to establish a sense of how the ministry effort achieved its expected outcomes.
I have found over the years that there is a consistent perception that you cannot measure the outcomes of ministry activity. This perception is not true. I encourage staff and leaders who want to continuously improve their ministry outcomes, to be sure to implement regular, well-designed evaluation efforts that will guide them in future ministry design outcomes consistent with their church mission and ministry goals.
The Center for Parish Leadership is available to assist you with your planning efforts. Please contact us to discuss how we can work with your staff and leaders to develop effective ministry planning practices. If you would like to read previous Weekly Research Updates, you will find them on our website blog.