What is the measure?

A state-wide church body has invited you to consult with them on the design of a new outcomes measurement approach for mission. They have made significant investment into innovative projects in the last five years, but are finding it difficult to articulate what the outcome of this investment has been. The individual projects operate with different structures are at various stages of their development and have varying purposes. Reporting has been ad-hoc, or handled by local reference groups on the ground. There is a sense that each project would benefit from encouragement to think clearly about purpose, goals and outcomes and be able to communicate these in meaningful ways. In addition, the state-wide body is curious about setting up a broader strategic focus for the next 20 years and ensuring that any further funds are invested in projects that align with the strategic direction.

The group has already done some thinking, based on their experience and have come up with three potential approaches.

At the end of the consultation, you are asked to make a statement in the form of recommendations. Which approach will you recommend? Or will you propose a fourth option?

Approach A – Localised

Approach B – Formalised

Approach C – Relational

 

  • Allow each local project to develop a purpose statement, a set of outcomes they are working towards and a schedule of reporting for when they will check in on their progress.
  • Recommend that reporting occurs at least every three months and includes both qualitative and quantitative elements.
  • All reports have a narrative section that makes space for the team to tell stories of how people’s lives are being changed.
  • All reports have a learning and insights section that is collated by the state-body and disseminated in a “Discoveries from the edge” publication released every six months.

 

  •  Develop a standard state-wide written report format that requires projects to report on three priority growth areas.

1. Number of under 35s involved in structured discipleship, including   1on1 mentoring.

2. Number of individuals actively contributing to ministry in some form and the types of activities they are engaged in.

3. Community partnerships – what active partnerships exist between the project and the local community. What is their form and focus and what is the current commitment of the project in each partnership.

  • This report will also track key health indicators:
  • Number of people who identify themselves as part of the core team and the current timeframe of their commitment.
  • Amount of Leave owing to any individuals in paid roles and time since last holiday.
  • Consistent monthly supervision and or spiritual direction for any key individuals contributing more than 10hrs a week to the project.
  • 100% up to date records of all financials connected with the project, including notations of any in kind support through volunteering.
  • Assign an individual case-manager to each project (one case manager may have up to 5 projects), who spends significant time on site, face to face with the key team members from the start of the project.
  • The case-manager connects with the local team or individual once per month for a 1.5hr conversation that is lead by those on the ground, focussed on three questions:
  • How are you? What is happening in the areas of wellbeing, self care and spiritual growth for the team?
  • What is working well – what are you celebrating, building on, discovering that is effective. Are there any barriers to you growing this?
  • Based on what you have learnt, how are you going to do things differently in the next month?
  • Case manager then collates a de-identified summary of conversations from all projects, identifying key themes, learning and highlighting any insights relevant to other projects. This report is made available to any strategic planning teams, educational projects as well as pastoral care & prayer teams who have responsibility for pioneering ministry.

Questions

  • Which approach did you choose? Why did you choose this one?
  • Have a go at creating your own approach, either from scratch or using elements from above. Explain the reasons behind your design.
  • What happens if there is no evaluation or outcomes in a project? What might be lost?
  • How do you measure faith development, discipleship or healing in the lives of individuals?
  • If a missional project doesn’t have an overt evangelistic purpose, how would you measure its outcomes?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of each approach described above?
  • Where does discernment about the ‘effectiveness’ of any initiative best come from –The broad strategic perspective? The local grounded perspective? A combination of both?
  • If you had to create some strategic focus areas for the growth of the church, that every missional project needed to address in some way, what would you choose? Try and create three or four.

Wisdom from the pews

“Evaluation process are often triggered by ministers coming and going. This may only happen 3 times across 10 years. There is value in doing more regular, short term evaluation to benefit from learning. Evaluation is one of those things that can easily be forgotten amidst activity: “We didn’t really evaluate… we planned alot but once we were on the ground we stopped asking questions””

Going deeper

Engaging Emergence by Harvard Learning in Innovation Lab

How do we strategise, plan for and manage projects that are emergent in nature?