Survey Says {Women’s Ministry Success}

surveysays

Survey Says… {Women’s Ministry Success} by Gena McCown, Co-Founder

How do we determine that our ministry efforts are successful?   From a Biblical standpoint, there are some great litmus questions we can ask:

  • Have our events been Gospel Centered?
  • Are our programs Disciple Making?
  • Have we improved Bible Literacy in our women?
  • Has there been a growth in the Prayer Life of our women?
  • Do our events/programs fit within our Mission Statement/Verse?
From a practical standpoint, some other areas that we can look at are:
  • Attendance:  has there been an increase, decline, or no change in the number of women attending?
  • Faces:  are we serving the same women repeatedly, a revolving door of new faces, or a healthy mixture of returning regulars and new faces at each event?
  • Community:  do the women of our church invite their friends and family to our events, or are we only serving the women in our church?
  • Outreach:  how many outreach opportunities have we participated in as a ministry?
  • Event Types:  which of our events have the greatest attendance versus low attendance?
  • Bible Studies/Small Groups:  have we seen an increase of new small group leaders, small group attendances, or shift into more in-depth small group materials/studies?
  • Funding:  do we have a budget deficit or surplus?

Besides reviewing these two aspects of our ministry, we can also utlize surveys to help us understand our ministry results better.  There are 2 types of surveys you can use in your ministry work to tap into the thoughts of the women you serve.

Per Event Survey:
This is a short survey presented at the end of an event where the women can provide feed back on that specific event.   Surveys like this are great for when you have a guest speaker, a retreat or workshop, etc.  It provides insight into the particulars of the event, allowing you to see what the women valued most or how the speaker resonated with the women.  A highly praised speaker is one you would invite back, if they didn’t seem to care about the decorations you know that you can skimp on that next go around, if they didn’t like the location then you don’t return, etc.  I like to include a space for comments where women can share specific thoughts about that event/speaker that are not in the questions.  There are several event surveys on the internet via sites like pinterest, women’s ministry tool box, womensministry.net, etc that have downloadable surveys available.  Or, you can write your own.
End of Year Survey:
End of Year Surveys are a great way to get a general overview of the response to your ministry work.  You can not expect your women to remember every speaker you have hosted over the course of the year.  Grading individual speakers is better suited for the per event survey (I learned this the hard way).  End of Year Surveys tend to include simple agree/disagree questions, such as:
  • WM at Church offers a wide variety of Bible Study and Small Groups.
  • WM at Church brunches are held at just the right frequency.
  • WM at Church events are well publicized and I feel informed.
These surveys also allow you to offer up an opportunity to ask more personal or opinion based questions, such as:
  • List three ways you believe WM at Church could better support our women?
  • If you are not in a small group, please share why?
  • Would you be interested in one on one discipleship/mentoring?
  • Are you interested in serving with the Women’s Ministry team?
Just as in the event survey, I do recommend leaving some space for comments and suggestions.   This is also a great opportunity to begin connecting people together by including questions about hosting a small group in your home (but not teaching), leading a small group, starting a community interest group (Christian Photographers, Sewing Groups, etc), and specifics that can connect the women to serving in the church.
You can send out the surveys in one of two ways, a good old fashioned paper survey or via one of the many (and often free) internet survey sites (such as Survey Monkey).
Why I value paper surveys:
  • They are accessible to everyone in your body, not just those who have a computer or are computer friendly.  It allows our older generations to speak their opinions.
  • They allow space to expound upon your answers in the margins.  For example, you may agree that there is a great variety of small groups but perhaps you’d  like to see more expository options available.  Paper surveys give space to make notations as you fill out the survey.
  • When someone has a paper in hand, they are more apt to complete it and return it.   Especially if they are completing the survey at the end of the event, or at the last WM event for the year.  You will see your highest return by having surveys filled out on site.
  • NEGATIVE:  You will have compile all of the data yourself, reading and counting every single survey.  The larger your ministry, the more tedious this will become.
Why I value internet surveys:
  • You do not have to be a math whiz to compile the data.  These online survey sites will often create charts/graphs with your data, thus making the review of the results easier for everyone.  You will have a great summary sheet to share with your Pastor, Minsitry Oversight Committees, and to go with your budget requests for the Financial Committee.
  • Online surveys are quick and easy and you do not need to try and interpret handwriting.  This makes the entire process easier for both sides, the person taking the survey and the person responsible for processing it.  Additionally, paper free surveys are environmentally friendly.
  • Most people will complete the survey when it shows up in their email box, but you do take the risk of the survey ending up in someone’s junk folder or buried in a slew of other emails and forgotten.  If you send out an online survey, make sure to mention it at your current event or social media sites to ensure the women know to look for the survey.
  • NEGATIVE:   The oldest generation of your church will be less likely to respond to the online survey.  There are sometimes limitations on the number of questions you can ask (if it’s a free service) or on how much they can type in the “comments” section.  Which means you may get a less in depth analysis.
My final thoughts on surveys comes to the subject of anonymity.  On the one hand, people will feel more freedom in their responses if they are allowed to remain anonymous.  On the other otherhand, anonymity can often give someone a platform for passive agressive attacks.  In other words, people are more apt to say something critical anonymously than they would if they had to say it to your face or attach their name to it.
If you choose to go anonymously, be prepared for a heavier dose of criticism.  Don’t ask questions you are not prepared to hear the answers to, or read comments that are less than helpful.  Some women will respond with their genuine concerns in this format, since many women don’t handle confrontation very well.  Especially if they are friends with the WM team members.  You will need to pray for discernment as you read the responses to determine if it is constructive criticism or destructive criticism.  You will also lose the opportunity to allow women to express interest in serving/leading as part of the survey.  Which means you would need to handle that separately.
If you choose to have the women include their name in the survey, be prepared for a lot of sunshine and roses and minimal open criticism of the ministry work.  When we have to sign our name to something, we are often more generous and graceful with our opinions.  It’s that part of women which is sensitive to the hearts of others.  We don’t want to hurt feelings or criticize someone we consider a friend.  However, this gives the women you are serving an opportunity to express their hearts.  If someone is willing to post a criticism with their name attached to it, you now have important information in your hands.  First, you know that this issue was important to the person who wrote it.  Second, you now have the opportunity to speak directly to the person about it.  This is a great opportunity to hear ideas or suggestions to improve the ministry, or at least create a conversation where you can explain to the person why the ministry made that decision or had that event.
Of course, there is also the option to let the women decide if they want to answer anonymously or not.  Even the online ones will give you the option for this choice as you set up the survey.

Checking the Pulse of Your Ministry

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If you have even been in the hospital for any length of time, you know the routine.  Every so many hours a nurse will wheel her cart into your room.  She’ll check your pulse and blood pressure, she may even check your oxygen levels and temperature.   When we are in the hospital, we are there for a reason. Something brought us in to be cared for and regular intervals where they check our vitals is part of our care.  They are looking for key pieces of information… is the medicine working, are your symptoms better or worse, are you still stable for surgery, is there something else you may need?

But, they are not the only ones checking.  Have you ever noticed that no matter what brings you into your doctor, from a simple cold to a well examination… they check too?  You have an earache, but the nurse checks your blood pressure.   It’s your annual exam with the obgyn, but she’s listening to your lungs through her stethoscope.  These doctors are also interested in checking our vitals.  Unlike the nurses in the hospital, who know what brought you in the doors that day, these doctors and nurses are taking a routine glimpse into your overall well being.  These are the professionals that are going to catch something that you may have had no idea was happening in your body, they are the heroes of early detection.

As ministry leaders, we too should be checking the vitals of our ministry for effectiveness.  We need to listen to the sounds of the ministry as it exists today… does it sound healthy?  We need to check the pulse of the women in our church to see if they are engaged and pumping into the ministry or waning off.  We also need to be taking a temperature of the climate to understand what our ministry needs and what it doesn’t.  If we continue to run the exact same ministry day in and day out, it will get stale and it will no longer feed the needs of the changing body.

It is important for us to understand is working and what isn’t, what is our program lacking and what may we have too much of.  The only way we can know the answers to this question is by examining our ministry effectiveness.

  • Are we bringing our women into a deeper relationship with Jesus?
  • Are we pointing our guests to the cross or to the buffet table?
  • Are we providing a variety of opportunities that meet women at various stages in their walk?
  • Are we providing room or even an open door for the Holy Spirit to lead/guide the ministry?
  • Are we as leaders growing in our own relationship with Christ and in our gifts/talents?
  • Are we identifying measurable change in the lives of the women we serve?
  • Are we looking outside our walls and becoming aware of the needs and influences outside our body?
If we want to ensure that we are leading a ministry that is constantly keyed into the pulse of the women we serve, there are a few things we can accomplish within our ministry team.
1)  Have a ministry team that has a variety of women in different stages of their faith journey, as well as life stages.
2)  As a team, regularly check in with community leaders to see what the needs in your community are today.  Often needs in a community change over time, and we best serve when we know where and how to serve.
3)  Consider having “term limits” on how long any one person serves on the leadership team.  This gives existing team members a break to rest and see if the Lord is still calling them to serve in Women’s Ministry.  It also opens the door to bring in new fresh faces, which will bring in new and fresh ideas.
4)  Do not fear change, embrace it.  Change is an opportunity to see God do a new thing.
5)   Challenge your ministry team to bring some new, fresh ideas to the next meeting.
With the church body itself, you can check the pulse of the ministry by a few key tactics.
1)  Take a Survey.   There are several online survey sites, many that are free, where you can put together a thorough ministry survey and see how the women feel about the ministry.  Some even include a comment section at the end; where your members can share ideas, suggestions, or feedback.  If you want to survey the women in smaller bite sized chunks of information – or – on very specific events or ideas; Facebook groups allow a single poll question that you can customize the answers for.  This is a great tool, as well, because they can also leave a comment.  The only difference between the survey sites and Facebook polling is anonymity.  Any polls or comments on Facebook will identify the person answering.
2)  Ask the Connectors.   I’ve heard several ministry leaders use the term “connector” before, and if you aren’t familiar with it, it is essentially the “it girls” of the church.  Who are the women that carry influence?  She’s the woman that you KNOW if she’s going to be at your event, others will follow her there.  You’ve overheard her asking people if they are coming to certain events, because she is all about supporting the ministry.  She may be plugged in to one or more ministries in the church, or to community groups.  She rarely walks in the door alone, bringing guests is her thing… and she does it well.  There are usually connectors within each age group or demographic in your church.  Seek her out, and ask her to share her honest thoughts about the ministry.
3)  Be Among the Women You Serve.  It isn’t uncommon at an event to see all of the Women’s Ministry team members sitting together.  Instead, make an intentional effort to have the leaders dispersed among those attending the event.  This allow your team members to get in the moment feedback on the event, content, speakers, etc.
4)  Have a Town Hall Meeting.  Invite the women of the church to participate in a Town Hall or Open Forum about the ministry.  In the morning with coffee and bagels, a night with hot cocoa and desserts… keep it simple.  What I like about the Town Hall meeting is that you will see which women in your church are not only attending the events, but you’ll meet the ones who are interested.  Share the vision, ask for ideas, recruit volunteers, and give the women a change to have not only a voice in the development of the programs… but ownership in them too.   A Town Hall meeting is a fantastic place to keep your eyes open for future women’s ministry team members too.