This blog was written by Angie Hooie, a member of the INCM Blog Team.
When you hear the word feedback, what do you think?
Do you think negatively?
Do you see it as constructive criticism?
Or do you think of feedback as a gift?
Feedback can help you understand the needs and expectations of the members of your community.
In the ministry setting, knowing the needs, wants, and expectations of parents can set your ministry up for success, both in event planning and in the spiritual growth of your kids.
There are several ways to get feedback to improve your children’s ministry.
Not every way we can get feedback will fit every ministry environment, but we all want to do the best with what Jesus has entrusted us.
Here are 5 easy ways to get feedback to improve your children’s ministry.
1. Face-to-Face Interaction
During our weekend program, 25% of our volunteers are parents.
This gives the parents a unique opportunity to voice what they see happening in our ministry.
They can share with me what they like, what is working, what they don’t like, and what is not working.
The key to this type of feedback from them is to truly listen to what they are saying, then filter the feedback through the vision, mission, and values of the ministry.
I try to hold the details of an event in an open hand when subjected to feedback because we want to do everything with excellence in our ministry.
We want to improve and we need to know what can be changed to elevate the event, even if it means some big changes.
I try to make sure I am available and accessible during our weekend programming, especially during pick-up and drop-off.
They know I will be standing in the lobby and available for hugs and smiles.
This allows for conversations to happen when families are coming in and leaving with their kids.
When can you build in a natural time for face-to-face feedback in your ministry?
2. Parent Advisory Councils
One of my goals for this year is to create a Parent Advisory Council.
This includes inviting key families to quarterly gatherings to hear their thoughts, feelings, and opinions on events my team is thinking about for the ministry.
Feedback from these trusted stakeholders would include how well past events went and what events they would like to see the ministry create.
When we invite the people with the most skin in the game to come to the executive table, many times these church members will care more about the ministry and dream for more for their kids and other families.
It can be a huge gift to your community to ask for feedback from those who are impacted the most because any improvements they see will create a better experience for all of kids down the line.
For our council, I plan on inviting 10-12 parents to join.
This will be a diverse group including single parents and foster parents, as well as long-time church attenders and those new to the church.
From this group, I hope to hear their feedback and also use them as a source of solutions for improving events and fixing issues that arise.
Who do you have in the ministry that could partner with you to create a council for feedback and problem-solving?
I would guess that we all used surveys during COVID and post-COVID to figure out what everyone needed.
Depending on what your church uses for email, you might already have access to any one of these tools.
Parents don’t have a lot of time to fill surveys out, so make them simple and to the point with only 5-6 questions.
We did a new format of VBS this year, and I needed the families’ feedback.
Did they like the new way we ran the event?
Was it a welcomed change or did it create a high degree of uncertainty in our families?
Was it even noticed by key people?
Doing a survey was the easiest way to gather the information.
I sent a survey out to the parents that attended to get their feedback on what worked, what didn’t, what they loved, and what they didn’t.
If you really want a high return rate, dangling an incentive, like a coffee or Chick-Fil-A gift card, can help get you more responses.
Have you sent a survey lately? What questions did you use? Were there too many or the right amount? How did you send it out?
In the same way that we use reviews to find our next backpack or date-night restaurant, It is important to know what people are saying online about your church and ministry.
Chances are if your church has a website and a presence on Google, there are probably reviews.
Sometimes this feedback affects your ministry. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Check your social media and online reviews on a regular basis.
A word of caution: Remember to have thick skin and a tender heart when reading online feedback.
People don’t always say the kindest things, but even harsh criticism can help you to consider all the stages of welcoming a new family, connecting them to the church, and helping them to establish their life in the church.
You can learn a lot from making mistakes and fixing them. And feedback is the only way to go in the right direction.
Have you checked reviews of your ministry lately? What has been said?
5. A Suggestion Box
This is about the easiest thing you could do to elicit feedback from parents.
Put a feedback box in your welcome center, child check-in, or in the main office.
Let people know it exists in your regular communication via email or text.
You might be surprised what comes of it.
Because people do not have to put their names on the form, there might be a little more freedom to write down their thoughts.
Not that you have to use any of it, but it can be interesting to see what people might say if they can keep their comments anonymous.
Do you have a suggestion box? Where could be a good place to have one in your church?
Once you have feedback, what do you do with it? Here are a few suggestions.
- Sit down and prayerfully read through it.
- Work through it with your team – either paid staff or the Parent Advisory Council.
- Look at your ministry’s mission statement. Does the feedback align with the mission of the ministry?
- Pray through what changes can and should be made in your ministry.
- Thank the families for their thoughts and input.
- Loop back to the families to let them know that you are making changes based on their input.
By listening to your community through getting feedback, you are essentially saying that their voices and experience matter at your church.
This can go a long way in building trust and investment in the ministry you lead and create a future of community problem-solving with those giving the feedback.
Angie has been married for over 20 years and has 3 grown kids. She has been volunteering in children’s ministry for over two decades and was called into vocational ministry over 10 years ago. At Two Rivers Church, she is the Kids Ministry Pastor where she oversees 3 campuses. She is an expert in kids ministry and has been deeply involved in expanding her church’s special needs ministry.