There is one primary element that should be strongly emphasized in any discussion about evaluation, especially for congregations just starting a small groups ministry: Flexibility.
As the small groups ministry structure is being formed and taking shape in your church, there is a need for flexibility by the leaders and by the groups to allow God to work and for learning through experience. Trust this truth (we might call this "Murphy's Church Law"): Things may not always go as planned or expected. A group leader may not follow the exact structure, yet he might remain very effective. A group may bend your expectations yet experience growth on new levels.
When we first began small groups four years ago at Valley Christian Church, our vision and structure was firmly in place. After the first year, though, there was a pronounced need for change in some basic areas.
These areas for change were highlighted by the group leaders—by the "front line" servants who were working with the groups and the people. Each year our group leaders and coaches evaluate the structure and the past year's "results" based on our mission and goals as a congregation and ministry. They suggest adjustments and emphasize those items that work. Those suggestions (results of regular evaluation) have made our groups the fruit of solid experience and the product of our own team in ministry.
Church leaders know from experience what President Woodrow Wilson said: "If you want to make enemies, try changing something." Yet it was Isaac Goldberg who said, "To blind oneself to change is not therefore to halt it." Ministry is dynamic, constantly adjusting and changing. This is why the attitude of evaluation and flexibility will produce a strong, flourishing ...