Ministry Program Evaluation
Ministry Program Evaluation
If your church already has active outreach ministries — evangelism, mercy ministry,
community development, advocacy, etc. — it is essential to look carefully at these
programs before forging ahead with new ideas. A future direction may evolve out of the
church's current ministries. A new direction or paradigm for ministry may mean making
changes in existing programs, or even ending some ministries to make way for new ones.
In designing new ministries, keep in mind the strengths and weaknesses revealed by the
evaluation so that you can build on successes and avoid repeating mistakes.
The following evaluation will help you decide how to work with existing ministries and
design new ones. Evaluate each program separately. (The Ministry Activities page of the
Ministry Audit is a helpful starting point for this process.) Follow the questions below to
examine the what, the how, and the why of the ministry program.
The evaluation should be conducted by a group that includes leaders and active volunteers
from the ministry being examined. They should understand that the purpose of the
evaluation is just not to critique the program's flaws, but to reveal strengths as well as
weaknesses, so that the church's visioning process can build on successes and avoid
repeating mistakes. It may be a good idea for those conducting the evaluation to review the
concepts explored in What is holistic ministry? and Why do holistic ministry?, in order to
build a shared holistic mission paradigm.
As much as possible, also seek input from other agencies or ministries that are partnering
with you or doing similar work (see networking), and from the people who are served or
reached by the ministry (see the Community Leadership Team.)
[Much of this evaluation is adapted from Sherman, The ABCs of Community Ministry: A Curriculum for
Congregations, pages 61-64.]
WHAT ministry are we doing?
Are we doing the right things?
1. What is the ministry's mission statement? (If the ministry does not have a formal
mission statement, write down a sentence or two that outlines the "big picture"
purpose of the ministry.)
2. List the specific goals and activities of the ministry (e.g., persons to reach, products
or services to generate, benchmarks of success)
3. Assess the continued significance of the ministry. Does it focus on needs that are
relevant and important? Are the goals of the ministry holistic (see "What is holistic
4. Is the ministry program "on track" with its mission?
a. Are the ministry activities consistent with the purpose of the program? Or are
there activities that fall outside the scope of the mission statement, or even
contradict the mission?
b. How successful has the ministry been at achieving its goals? Take into
account observable outcomes, as well as comments and feedback from
beneficiaries of the ministry and from others in the church.
5. If the ministry is "off track," ask why. Factors that can de-rail a ministry include:
influences from funding sources, the ministry board, church, or community; lack of
skills in leadership, administration or ministry implementation; "bigger is better" or
"urgency of the need" temptations; conflict over core goals.
6. Is the mission statement of this ministry in line with the overall mission statement of
the church? How does it fit in with the emerging vision for holistic ministry discerned
by church leaders (or the Ministry Vision Team)? (See Where is God calling us?)
HOW are we doing ministry?
Are we doing things in the right way? (It's possible to do the right things in the wrong way!)
1. Does the church have a "philosophy of ministry," a statement of commitments and
convictions that guides the operation of outreach programs? Assess how this
program is carried out in light of this list of principles. Does the ministry put into
practice the convictions articulated in the philosophy of ministry? Look particularly
a. The ministry's scope: Is it wide but superficial, or narrow and deep? Are there
sufficient resources to meet the program's objectives?
b. The ministry's connection with the church: What is the church's role in
supporting the ministry and holding it accountable? Does the ministry work
in harmony with other church outreach programs? Are there opportunities for
beneficiaries to connect with church life?
c. Spiritual development: How does the ministry provide beneficiaries with
opportunities to learn about God, encounter God's grace and receive spiritual
nurture? Is this done in ways that are sensitive, relevant and non-coercive?
How does the ministry encourage staff/volunteers to connect their faith with
d. The ministry's standards: Does the program expect staff and volunteers to
serve with excellence and integrity? Does it hold beneficiaries to standards
of decency and safety? Does it help people learn from their mistakes?
e. Stewardship: Does it operate with administrative excellence and integrity? Is
it a wise investment of resources? What is the level of retention of donors
and personnel? Does the ministry safeguard its human resources, so that
staff and volunteers do not burn out or function in a negative environment?
f. Staff/volunteer training: Are staff and volunteers provided with clear
guidelines and skills so that they can serve with excellence, witness with
sensitivity and faithfulness, and uphold the ministry philosophy?
g. Teachings: What messages are conveyed to beneficiaries, both through
formal teaching and through informal venues (staff lifestyles, attitudes,
personal relationships, the setting for the ministry)? Are these messages
Christ-centered, holistic, respectful, transformational, etc.?
h. Ministry leadership: Do leaders model, teach, and enforce these principles?
i. Ministry partnerships: If the program collaborates with another entity, does
this partner help or hinder these ministry principles?
2. If the ministry's operation is not consistent with the Philosophy of Ministry, analyze
why. Do the problems appear related to a lack of training, practical constraints,
ministry leadership, theological differences, external pressures, tradition ("we've
always done it this way") ...?
3. Identify main areas of strengths and weaknesses in the way the ministry is carried
out. What changes may be appropriate? What might be a strategy for bringing about
WHY are we doing this ministry?
Are we sponsoring ministry for the right reasons?
1. What reasons might the church have for sponsoring this ministry? What are the
ministries' objectives — what do you hope will come about through the ministry?
(See Why do holistic ministry?) Make a list. Those objectives might include:
a. Glorifying God; inspiring people to praise and worship.
b. Facilitating lasting change, deep healing, and confident hope in the lives of
hurting people. (Add more details about these desired changes.)
c. Helping people develop a vibrant, dependent, joyful relationship with Jesus,
by sharing the gospel with non-believers and discipling new and growing
d. Seeing the community become a place of increasing peace, safety, dignity,
opportunity and justice. (Add more specific details.)
e. Witnessing reconciliation between estranged families, ethnic groups, rich and
poor, or other divided groups of persons.
f. Developing leadership and healthy partnerships within the community of
g. Encouraging spiritual growth among the staff and volunteers.
h. Energizing the church around holistic ministry, seeing church members
become more Kingdom-oriented, compassionate, and active in their faith.
i. Bringing new people into the church and helping the church to grow.
2. Take the pulse of program staff / volunteers. Do they share these goals? Why or
why not? Are there any motivations and objectives present that the church should
not endorse (guilt, seeking to earn "brownie points" with God, materialistic visions
of success, competition with other churches)?
3. Do program leaders and staff model these objectives in their lives — setting an
example by giving God the glory, growing in their faith, displaying a hopeful
dependence on God, seeking reconciliation, advocating justice, etc.?
4. Is there a need for those in the church and ministry to better communicate and
model its ultimate objectives? What might be a strategy for accomplishing this?