I’m sitting in Tim Hortons (one of the perks of living in Canada) and there’s a sign staring at me. It reads, “How did we do?” What an important question but one that most youth and young adult ministries never ask.
No wonder, because most churches don’t ask it either! But what an important question! If you’re not getting honest feedback from your people you are walking blind. Here are vital areas you should be getting regular feedback on. (and a quick survey that you can use!)I was surprised to see also that when I logged on to Tim Horton’s wifi, I was directed to a page that began with the same big question and an online survey “HOW DID WE DO?”
I took quick look at a dozen youth web pages and the church they are a part of and no one seems to care “how they did.” Maybe they don’t really want to know? Does your ministry provide multiple avenues for honest feed back? Or do you just deal with compliments and complaints as they come in ? It’s better to seek feedback!
Areas to consider.
Whether you work with youth, young adults, or older adults you should get regular feed back. The most obvious kind of feedback is visitor details. Visitor cards or sign in from youth provides an an excellent opportunity for follow up. A phone call asking about their first impressions can be incredibly valuable to determine how visitors feel about what you provide.
Event Comment Cards
Most restaurants want to know how you liked the service, the food, the pricing, and other aspects of the dining experience. Youth or church events should include quick simple surveys with the most important evaluations questions. Like
- Did you enjoy the event
- Did you like the food
- Did you meet new people
- Would you like more information about future events
Program/ Service Feedback
For a youth program or a worship service there are some common areas to evaluate –this would be for all participants not just the new ones.
- Were you greeted with a warm welcome
- Did other people greet you beside designated greeters
- Do you feel accepted by the group?
- Did you feel the worship was heartfelt and genuine?
- Did you feel that the group participated and enjoyed the worship?
- Did you enjoy the worship?
- Were the announcements interesting?
- Did the announcements disrupt the service?
- Did the announcements apply to you?
- I felt the teaching was relevant to my life
- The teaching was interesting and engaging
- It seemed people around me were listening and following along
- I felt the teaching did not go too long
- I feel good enough about this experience to invite friends
- I look forward to coming back each week
- I feel that this group/ church is meeting my personal / spiritual needs
- I have a group of friends here that I look forward to seeing each week
Seldom will people comment but leaving a place for people to explain their choices or to provide feed back about other areas that you didn’t ask about can be very useful.
Ways to Survey
Taking time at the end of a retreat, service or an event to do a quick survey could be very useful
Having comment cards “How are we doing?” at the info desk and other areas all of the time is helpful.
Survey Monkey is an application that collects this kind of data. It could be sent out to every email address that the youth group or church has. The nice thing about this source is that the feedback is completely anonymous.
Website A button on your website to a quick online survey -the same questions as listed above can be on the website and if done right people can fill out the survey on their phones.
Kiosk Some churches use ipads or kiosks to collect information. On the way out of Starbucks I saw one that wanted answers to just 4 questions.
Focus Group. We do a lot of these at my college. The downside is that they are not anonymous. If a neutral person, not a pastor sits a group down and gets feedback the input would be valuable.
Get Feed Back
A mirror gives us instant feedback on our appearance. Properly conducted surveys and polls can also give us needed feedback. When we see what we are doing right we can do it even better. When we see what we are doing wrong we can fix it. It will take discipline to gather the data and courage to act upon it!
Ron Powell is the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email firstname.lastname@example.org