Googling the words “cool youth group ideas” yields 9 million results in half a second. That’s insane.
There are also probably thousands of bloggers on the inter-webs who give coaching, thoughts, videos, game plans, blueprints for growth strategies, DVD curriculum, etc... I am not hating on those bloggers, they are great! But do you know what the problem is with all 9 million of these results? They don’t know you or your youth ministry. In Campus Target, we use EXTERNAL resources for growth and equipping all the time, but what about INTERNAL resources? It seems there is an overload of ideas and perspective that all are outside of your own situation and city. Internal resources are the things surrounding you right now that you could tap into and start using today. Feedback is a tool that unlocks ‘gold nuggets’ that have been stored up around you, but have not been ‘panned’ to be discovered.
There are people, parents, pastors, and leaders all around you that can be resourced in order to get your group, church, or ministry to the next level. The problem however lies in our understanding and perspective of what feedback actually is, and its applicable effectiveness to your ministry. But first, you, as the leader, have to have a breakthrough and understanding in why feedback works and how to use it wisely. That’s why I made a list of the “5 Myths of Feedback."
Myth 1: “I hear from haters, I mean people, all the time. Trust me, I don’t need any more feedback”
My guess is you hear from the small MINORITY of people who are disgruntled, offended for no reason, and generally upset at life. Am I right? Come on…I’m a leader too, the ‘blue moon’ conversations I have are ones where someone looks at me and says, “O.M.G. You are the greatest leader ever. How does this group flow so smoothly? Why are you so anointed? I. LOVE. YOU.” But here’s the deal. The ‘haters’ only make up a small percentage of the people you need to hear from. They are the 20% of the crowd that gives you 80% of feedback (thanks Pareto). You have to make a separation in your heart and mind that keeps ‘constructive feedback’ and ‘disgruntled person tantrum’ separate. Trust me, there are more people than you think who have great insight and ideas that have not been unleashed. You need to hear more input and feedback from people around you!
Myth 2: “I already meet with my Pastor and talk about stuff. So I’m good.”
Touché. If you meet with your Pastor, awesome. Keep doing that. But chances are, because of their schedule, other events at the church, personal life obligations, your Pastor does not attend the youth group meetings regularly. This doesn’t make your Pastor a horrible person, it makes them normal. What you need to do though, is find people who have SEEN your youth ministry on a consistent basis to give feedback and speak into the reality of the situation. Youth leaders, faithful parents, Pastors, and student leaders all make a great people for to ask for feedback.
Myth 3: “I gather feedback all the time. After service I ask people, ‘How did it go?’ ”
Yes, that’s a type of feedback. But it’s not exactly the kind of feedback I’m talking about. Great feedback needs great time. You can’t just ninja-style ask questions and expect a well thought out, honest answer. Continue to ask people for instant feedback right after events or meetings, but changes are the responses you will receive will not be enough to implement strategic changes that need to be made.
Myth 4: “I have the best youth ministry ever. BACK OFF SEIDLER!”
I’m not saying you don’t have the best youth ministry on the planet. I pray you do. I’m saying, even if you did, you still need feedback to get to the next level. In my leadership, I personally have discovered what I see is not what people around me see. This could be good or bad. I might be thinking everything is awesome and powerful, but the team of people around me see disarray and ineffectiveness. Feedback engages those around me to draw out their perspectives, ideas and input into the current state of the ministry. Leaders hold vision close to their heart and see what our group can become. But we have to understand feedback is a crucial ingredient in the pavement used to build the road to success.
Myth 5: “This sounds complicated, nerdy and John Maxwell’ish.”
It’s normal! Think about it. Almost anywhere you go these days is asking for feedback. I was just at Home Depot buying a ‘thing-a-ma-jig’ and after the purchase they told me to take a survey on my experience. All I am suggesting is to find people who have seen your ministry, take them to coffee for 90 minutes and ask them questions that dig deep into their perspective and ideas. Don’t make feedback more challenging than it is! You will be amazed at all the ‘gold’ you will find as you sit down and ask people questions.
Alex Seidler is the Launch Director for Campus Target. He oversees short term and long term trips, as well as Campus Target's internship program. He is a graduate of EBI and is currently studying at Roberts Wesleyan College. Alex has been a missionary for almost a decade, and currently resides in Lima, NY with his wife Jodi.