Evaluating “Looking Forward, Glancing Back”

DSC_0238This website exists for leaders who want to see their churches not just survive, but thrive. Thriving churches not only more actively engage in God’s mission, but can help other churches do the same.

That’s a worthwhile reason for writing a regular blog.

The past month I studied in detail the weekly Saturday post. I did so because I wasn’t certain the post was really contributing toward the purpose of the website. I also did it to model for church leaders the importance of regularly and honestly evaluating programs and ministries.

In reality, churches rarely evaluate ministries. There are a number of reasons for this.

  • Most congregational leaders are volunteers who find it hard enough to find time to serve in programs, let alone take time to second guess (evaluate) ministries.
  • The leaders grew up in churches that did little assessment, so they never learned to value evaluation.
  • Programs exists because, at some point, members were passionate about the programs. And members are likely still emotionally invested in those programs.
  • Churches develop cultures that protect their doctrine and values. Often, this culture also protects programs and ministries.

These served churches well in the past. Life, even in the church, has changed. Now they hurt congregations. Here’s why:

  • Society around the church is changing at an ever-increasing rate, rapidly creating opportunities and challenges for churches. If churches are not assessing current ministries, they miss opportunities.
  • Resources for churches are more scarce than ever, especially people to serve in programs and ministries. Congregations can’t afford to deploy members in ineffective programs.
  • Church members are accustomed to almost instant access to almost everything in daily life. They expect the same of their churches, including improvements to programs.

When evaluating the weekly Saturday post, I could have simply asked for input on social media. That would be similar to a church committee spending 10 minutes talking about how to improve Vacation Bible School.

So, I took a deeper look at the Saturday post. Here’s how I did the evaluation.

  • Before starting the weekly post, I recorded the purpose and measurements of the most. of the weekly Saturday post before I started the post. I reviewed this information.
  • I asked for input readers via social media.
  • For one month, I asked for input through the KevinWilson360 website.
  • I sent out an online survey for input from readers.
  • I interviewed five regular readers of the blog.

The purpose of the Saturday post was to engage at least 30 percent of the KW360 community more deeply in the content. As far as I can tell, the highest percentage I reached was 18 percent. It was usually lower.

  • As for measurements, I wanted the same KW360 members reading a higher percentage of posts. This worked for the previous week’s posts. But it wasn’t increasing the percentage of the community reading the next week’s posts.
  • Another measurement was how many people responded to the links to content from other leaders. I was most disappointed in this area. There was little interest in this content.
  • The final measurement was on whether the Photo of the Week would encourage the community to at least open the Saturday post. As far as I can tell, it had no effect.

Unless there is a groundswell to continue it, I’ll stop publishing the weekly Saturday post. That’s OK. We’ll find a better way to accomplish the same thing. Here are four such ideas:

  • A monthly post that serves as a digest of the previous month’s posts.
  • A regular newsletter that goes more in-depth in areas of church life that interest the community.
  • Add video content to connect more often with the current community and expand our community.
  • Offer a monthly webcast on the issues that are of greatest interest or concern to the community.

If you have any thoughts on these ideas, share it in the comments or shoot me an email.

PS. The Photo of the Week is from a winter hike at Old Man State Park in southeast Ohio.

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