There’s that moment when someone asks to meet with you to discuss something about the youth ministry. It can be a chaotic moment when your mind races about what the issue might be. Typically, those moments feel defensive and even personal (when they’re usually not meant to be).

This is why a culture of feedback is critical. It’s establishing a rhythm and an openness to evaluation and revision in a ministry. Here are some steps in creating that culture of feedback.

  • Identify who’s feedback you’re looking for. This could include students, parents, volunteer leaders, deacons/elders, the Christian Education team, etc.
  • Schedule when those periods of feedback are most helpful. In a ministry year, some key times may be in November, March and June. Those periods of feedback don’t have to be the same depth each time. In November, it could be a text or email asking for 3 things they think are going well and 2 things they would like to see change. In June, you might include an in-depth in-person conversation with key individuals. Having evaluation/debrief after a major event is vital.
  • Schedule regular review meetings with those who you supervise. When I (Alvin) debrief with those who I oversee, I typically ask these questions:
    • What were 3 things you did well?
    • What were 2 things you could have done better or differently?
    • How can I better support you?
  • Regularly ask for feedback from those who supervise you. It provides an opportunity for them to bring up issues without issues become the driver for feedback. I (Alvin) usually ask:
    • What should I keep doing?
    • What should I stop doing?
    • What should I start doing?
  • Set some ground rules when evaluating, especially in a one-on-one situation. If possible, focus on actions vs the person. There are times, when giving feedback, we make things more personal than they need to be. Identify specific examples both in affirmation and in constructive criticism. There may be times when you need to discuss a person’s character. Be sure to speak with grace but also don’t dance around the issue. Again, use specific examples/instances.
  • Follow up with the feedback, especially if you’re using something more generic like a survey. Responding to that feedback (not in a defensive manner) acknowledges that you value the person’s insights and you took time to review it.

A culture of feedback does not mean constantly trying to hold a record of wrongs against one another. Rather, it’s an opportunity for honest evaluation for the sake of sharpening the ministry and sharpening one another with grace.

What else do you do in creating that culture of feedback?