‘Nutritionally’ Evaluating Your Ministry | UMC YoungPeople
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July 2011

‘Nutritionally’ Evaluating Your Ministry

By Chris Wilterdink

There are a wealth of available tools and tips to help you evaluate your ministry – many of them aimed at helping those who minister with young people to evaluate and plan their ministries more effectively. They can be complex or simple – but often they use terms and concepts that can be difficult for young people to grasp.

In order to equip young people as leaders in your ministry, it is important that they not only participate in providing feedback about the ministry – but be able to understand, process, and evaluate feedback in order to help plan improvements.

A simple way for young people to evaluate the ministries that they are involved in can be modeled after a nutrition label – found on any packaged food stuff in the US. This label indicates the product (ministry event/program), serving size (duration of the event), ingredients (resources required for the event/program, and nutritional breakdown of the food (percentage of time spent on different activities). For the purposes of ministry event/program evaluation, I recommend identifying several categories that will fill the ‘nutritional breakdown’ of your ministry. (ie ‘Fats’ = Items that fill time in an event; or even the heaviest moments of ministry, ‘Sodium’ = items that add flavor to an event; or salty moments that balance out the sweetness in a program, ‘Carbs’ = High energy moments that everyone seems interested in like games, ‘Protein’ = the ‘meat’ of an event’s program or meaning, ‘Vitamins’ = the healthiest parts of an event, ministry, etc) Feel free to play around with the categories you would list on a ministry nutrition label, but limit your options to 5 or 6.

The USDA requires foods to list their ingredients and their nutritional information so that consumers know what they are putting in their bodies.

Believing that ‘we are what we eat’ and that we as church members act together as the body of Christ, it is important to recognize what we are feeding our collective ‘body’. If a church body is getting too many carbs (sugary, sweet, high energy moments that don’t last very long) perhaps more meat is needed in a program or ministry area. Say if a Sunday School class focuses or really heavy material (fats) for three weeks in a row – the energy level of the class could become very low because the meaning is getting lost in the heaviness.

Not only could program benefit from this kind of evaluation, but you may also be able to identify better fits for different participants in your group. If a young person needs a pick me up to get them through the week, you can point to a specific part of your ministry as something that will do the trick.

Nutrition Label

A healthy body needs a balance of fats, carbs, protein, and vitamins to be at its best – and your ministry is no different. Whether you experiment with this way to evaluate your ministry or you utilize another tool, don’t be afraid to put your ministry on the scale, or look itself in the mirror for evaluation on a regular basis. You may discover trends in your planning, or how the personality of your ministry affects your group dynamics. Also, invite young people to participate in the evaluation of ministries that they take part in – they will become a great resource and help to identify what ‘the body’ needs!

Chris serves as Director of Young People’s Ministries for Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Chris has a BA in English Education, and an MS in Project Management, and over 15 years of local-church youth ministry experience. He is passionate about leadership and faith development in young people and helping ministry leaders understand their value in the lives of young people. A Stephen Minister, Chris is a native of Colorado living in Franklin, TN with his wife Emily, 2 children, and sausage-shaped beagle.