Do you evaluate based on effort?
Carey Nieuwhof
January 6, 2010

As leaders and volunteers, we spend 99% of our time in preparation for ministry and about 1% evaluating what we've done. But the congregation and the people we serve do exactly the opposite.

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So you work on church staff or volunteer at a church. You work hard. I get that. But a few years ago I had a sobering thought. As leaders and volunteers, we spend 99 percent of our time in preparation for ministry and about 1 percent evaluating what we’ve done. The congregation does exactly the opposite. They spend 1 percent of their energy preparing for an event, and 99 percent of their time evaluating it (after all, that’s what lunch after church is all about, right?). You could hear the giant gulp in my throat for miles the first time I realized that.

Last year I challenged our staff with that thought. I think our evaluation as staff or key volunteers can be skewed. I know I want to give myself marks for effort. Here are the questions I’m tempted to ask myself:

  • Did I work really hard on an event?
  • Did I do my best?
  • Did it go well?

Sure, evaluation is more complex than that, but the truth is, I like to applaud effort. Increasingly, though, I worry that we applaud ourselves too easily for effort.

Here’s a question I ask myself and our team more and more: What happens after they walk out the door? For me as a senior pastor, what happens after the message Sunday needs to be more important than what happens Sunday before or during the message. If the message isn’t going anywhere or doing anything in people’s lives, what’s the point? I’d like to hear what you think about all this, and tomorrow I’ll post more on this topic of evaluation.