Tag Archives: bench marks

Evaluating Small Groups

Last week, I talked about the importance of Evaluating Programs, and I want to stress again that Evaluating the direction and purpose of a Ministry and its programs is one of the most Important things a Youth Pastor can do long term.

I mentioned how I try and do different levels of evaluation, whether its weekly and a quick few minutes after a service, or a more in depth evaluation every few months of the overall direction of the program or ministry.

This past weekend, our Youth Service was a big push for kids to sign up for Core groups, and I’m pretty pleased with the response we had when all is considered. And so over the next few weeks, we are going to be phasing those in, getting them started. And one of the things that will help us for the full launch next fall is the way we evaluate these small groups.

One of the ways we evaluate small groups is based on their effectiveness to their audience. So attached below are some files of a little 3×6 card that our small group leaders will fill out each week. These cards don’t go in to too much depth, but they leave enough room for the leaders to be aware of how deep the group got that night, and fill out to fill me in if something important is going on in the lives of one of the students.

They help us in evaluating because we can see “Alright, this group isn’t progressing, they are still just coming and goofing off, what do we need to change,” or to see “this group has great chemistry, how can we harness that for the betterment of the rest of the Youth Ministry.”

They also help because even though we have less than 30 kids, I can’t effectively minister to them as well as a team of us can, and so I can’t be Small group leader to every student. So it’s great to have on record when wins + losses happen (i.e. win, Joey got saved, win, Jake got his parents to come to church this past Sunday, loss, Rachel hasn’t been at small group in a few week, etc.) It’s also great to have the prayer requests on file for me to pray over, as well as to know what’s going on in the students lives.

These are a work in progress, I think we will be tweeking them for quite a while, but they still can be effective how they are, and if you want to tweek them, the photoshop files are available as well.


Evaluation card front

Evaluation card back

Photoshop file


Evaluating Youth Programs

When was the last time you did a thorough evaluation of your Youth Ministry?

For some, it could be almost a year since you last got away to spend a few days evaluating the the purposes of your youth ministry, the vision, the direction, etc.

Others do a quick evaluation after each service.

I think both have strengths, but both work best when your doing both. I think it’s very healthy to once a year take a few days retreat by yourself or with a team to really evaluate. But waiting a year to evaluate isn’t healthy, you should be evaluating a lot more often, whether its a quick little 5 point check after each service or a bit lengthier of a process once a month with your leadership team, evaluation is a must in ministry.

I’d like to say the most important question a Youth Pastor can ask himself when it comes to evaluation programs is “Does it accomplish our purposes?” but firstly, I hate making such bold claims, I’m sure someone else could come up with a more important question to ask, but I will contend that this one is up there. Secondly, though, in order to ask that question, a Youth Pastor has to know what his purposes are first.

If you don’t know what you want/need to accomplish, then your not going to have any idea on how to judge whether an event is helping our hindering your achievement.

I read a phenomenal analogy in the book ” 7 practices of Effective Ministry” by Stanley, Joiner, and Jones, in which one of the authors described talking to his son about his batting average in little league, how just because he hit the ball didn’t mean his average was going to go up. All baseball players know, the point of hitting the ball is progress either yourself or a teammate from one base to another and, eventually, to home plate. You can hit the ball as hard as you want, but if it doesn’t result in advancing you or a teammate to the next base, its ineffective and pointless.

A lot of Youth Ministries live in the mindset of “I’m hitting the ball, were doing good!” Its awesome that your having great crowds come to your services, its awesome your building great friendships with the students, but if its not advancing them further in spiritual maturity, whats the point?

It’s so easy to miss the purpose. We can hide behind the “traditional” Wednesday night youth service and others can assume we have purpose, but I hope more youth pastor’s will open their eyes and see that there is so much more. Don’t equate busyness with purpose. Your students deserve more than that. Your students NEED more than that.

5 Levels of Youth Ministry Events

Something I feel I have come back to several times on here is the idea of mile markers, or benchmarks, that are able to show the progression of a student in their Spiritual Growth. One thing of note that I feel is important is that different kids will have different mile markers. For a student who has grown up in church their whole life, then reading their bible every day may not signify quite the same spiritual growth as a kid who had never set foot in church until their sophomore year of high school.

So while different individual students are located at different mile markers, the overall Youth Ministry is set up on 5 levels of mile markers, and one of the way we attempt to move kids from marker to marker is through different purposeful events, and this is really somewhat just an extension of Greg Stier’s Dare2share and moving kids from apathetic to Passionate. But in our Youth Ministry it plays itself out in the purpose behind our events

. It works like a funnel, with kids being poured into the top and our prayer and hope is to see them move down to the bottom.

Coming –

The first level of event is really just to get kids coming, hence the name. These events will be primarily relationship building, whether its a night of just games the first sunday of every month, a lock-in, etc., the primary purpose here isn’t to win souls, but to show kids that they can have a good time with Christians.

Converted –

The second level of events is a bit more evangelistic, at some point we want to shut it down and let kids know that yeah we want to have a good time, but we also want them to know we aren’t just a hang out place, to let them know, for instance, there is a reason I work with a  bunch of teens but am not a teacher, and to share the gospel with them. ( These aren’t bait and switch events, its never like “Hey come for free pizza! Lock the doors! Your going to hell unless you repent!”)


The third level of event is one that focuses on the Beginning stages of Discipleship. The first two levels, and really this one a bit as well, are open to everyone, our hope is that everyone will feel welcome and comfortable coming to them. But beginning in level three, there is a bit more of a “Hey, we want you to come to this, but be ready to go deeper” Where as the first two are pretty Bible Light, level three starts getting more into the Bible, and again, is the beginning stage of discipleship.


Level four is where students are very committed to the Bible, the youth ministry, their peers, etc. Level’s 3 and 4 could really be combined, and in our bench marks they are closely related. But Level 4 is going to focus on Spiritual Maturity Development. Simply reading the bible and knowing about God isn’t going to cut it at these events, your going to have to show you understand it. Again, levels 1-3 are really open to everyone, but someone can’t just jump into level 4 from nowhere, they have to be invited by an adult leader, not a student, to these events.

Commissioned –

Level 5 events are where the students are showing spiritual maturity reproduction, such as a mission trip/service project. The difficulty is that though this one is at the bottom of the funnel, and level 4 seems like a “closed off” event, level 5 is still open to just about anyone.

So again, these are the 5 levels of focuses behind an event, and help us achieve the bench marks we want to see students passing before graduation in terms of spiritual growth.

Mile Markers

One of the things that is big for me in the way I approach ministry is knowing the Mile Markers I am passing.

What I mean by this is the simple idea that with everything, we are going somewhere. A Youth Ministry that doesn’t know where it’s going might as well not be going anywhere at all. I know I’m not the first person to think this. I mean, it’s the same basic idea that Rick Warren has turned into one of the best selling books of the last 100 years; Purpose Driven Life. No one wants to live a life that has no purpose, and no one want’s to be in a Youth Ministry that has no purpose. Sure, you can just hang out every week with the kids, and they will have a blast, but something better will come along in a few weeks/months and they’ll be gone.

So that’s why I like to look at the mile markers I am passing, or that I am seeing my students passing. These are specific thing’s that I have set as goals for the Youth Ministry, some of them are harder to pass than others, but each one goes down a different road.

Like for instance, with the Youth Ministry itself, there is a specific road I want to see it go down, and I know that I can’t get to where I’d like to see it at without passing a few of these specific mile markers first. The Youth Ministry here will never be as healthy as I want it to be, in the place I want it to be, until we have passed the mile marker of establishing I Student-led worship team, or the mile marker of having small groups, or the mile marker of key adult leaders helping out in specific roles.

Or with students, I know a Road I want to have them go down to reach the destination I’d like to see them at when they graduate from High School, but I know it wont happen if they don’t pass certain mile markers, things like the Marker of Getting Saved, the Marker that I have for many of leading a friend to Christ, the mile marker of serving on a ministry team in church.

Some mile markers are really close together, some are further apart. I have more than just the six I used as examples, a lot more. But my fear is that many Youth Pastor’s haven’t set specific goals to aim for with their kids or ministries. I said it at the beginning and I will say it again:

A Youth Ministry that doesn’t know where it’s going might as well not be going anywhere at all.

One of the questions I see the most is how to properly evaluate a Youth Ministry. I would argue that it’s almost impossible to do a true evaluation of the youth ministry without some sort of bench mark/mile marker to hold it up against. Are you reaching your bench marks? If not, why not.

But more on that next week.

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