For a church to continue growing, it needs a strong youth program. A major obstacle in that program is finding new and innovative ways to connect children & young adults to each other and the Bible’s teachings. To do that, you will need regular and honest feedback; and your church web strategy can be a mechanism to solicit it.
Feedback on your programs will help you craft activities that are both fun and insightful. That feedback may be solicited via anonymous and more open methods. If you have worked with websites for any length of time, you should have some ideas already jumping to mind; such as forms and surveys. However, consider being open and asking for input via social media outlets. Let us begin with the first, regular web forms.
These are probably the most common feedback tools the web offers. It is a way to get words from the users sent directly to you. You can ask for users to submit identifying information, but you might get more honest information if you keep it anonymous. I will not get into details on form design, but keeping it short & simple and you will yield more results. Nobody wants to fill out a long multi-part form, no matter how much good it will do for the program.
Similar to forms, surveys get more empirical data based on numbers and statistics. These surveys primarily use dropdown menus & radio buttons (only one answer is allowed) and check boxes (multiple answers are allowed). These will help fill in charts and graphs for your committee meetings and tell both you and management if you are on a good trajectory. However, do not be lulled by the numbers; as the best feedback is always free-form text that describes why the student felt that way. Strive for a combination of forms and surveys to get a well-rounded picture.
Although using your website is where you have the most flexibility with your feedback tool; you might consider using social media tools. Why not experiment and ask them to crowdsource ideas from their friends? Have them ask questions to other believers about what their favorite Biblical activities are. Even better, ask their non-believer friends what they would be willing to participate in, or what would help get their questions answered. You can utilize polls on your Facebook page, or create your own hashtag to track inputs via Twitter.
Whether you choose to use anonymous forms on your website or more transparent methods on social media platforms; I urge you to get feedback for your youth ministries. Do not simply ask what was fun, but also what was the most helpful in navigating this difficult time in life. Your well-equipped youth will soon be the next generation of emerging leaders; and the legacy of your church will be in good hands!
Note: Thanks to Vincent Giordano, Middle School Director at North Way Christian Community for the helpful insights!
Photo courtesy of William George