Read my classmate post. Think and write your thoughts and feelings about his post. (1 page)
Evaluation in any endeavor is critical. What is working? What is not working? What needs adjustments? These are questions that must be asked within the construct of our Bible School programs. Although evaluation is an obvious necessity, it can easily be overlooked. Personally, I have not been thorough enough with evaluation. Although not completely absent, it has been quite informal for me. Our reading this week offered good and practical reminders about the importance of program evaluation. Stovall (2008) offered several good lessons to consider within the practice of our education programs.
First, there is good biblical support for carefully considering our planning within our minstires (Stovall, 2008). “Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisors they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). This proverb, along with many others, illustrates God’s expectation for diligent planning. It is possible to offer a Bible School program with limited thought and direction. All one needs is a willing body and some material. But projects fail with minimal effort. God’s word provides a message that creates faith (Romans 10:17). Teaching the gospel is an opportunity and not merely something that we do. It can succeed with proper planning and evaluation.
Second, evaluation never ends. “Evaluation is the beginning, the middle, and the end of planning” (Stovall, 2008, p. 439). To illustrate the continual nature of evaluation, Stovall (2008) uses the imagery of a garden. Initially, soils must be evaluated in relation to the intended goals and crops. Once the field is planted, a gardener must tend to the field regularly. Does it need more water? Does it need more cultivating? If everything is correct, then the gardener simply must allow more time. If something is wrong, then the gardener attends to it immediately. Every season creates new challenges and plans may need to be altered. All of this is learned through evaluation.
Our Bible School programs are no different. Initially, many things are evaluated. Do we have enough teachers to meet our desired classes? Are the teachers competent enough to begin right away? Do we need time to prepare certain teachers? Do we need time to promote the program to generate interest by the potential students? Once the program begins, we must evaluate both positive and negative attributes. Student learning must be evaluated along with teacher competency. In other words, there is no point in which we can allow our programs to enjoy autopilot. Evaluation is always necessary.
Third, adequate goals must be developed, maintained, and evaluated. Stovall (2008) recounts the popular adage, “If you aim for nothing you are going to hit it every time” (p.443). Overall, this section was the most significant and helpful portion of the reading for me. Stovall (2008) offered four questions to consider within the scope of our education programs. I thought these questions were spot on and I intend to utilize them moving forward. The questions themselves can be applied to nearly every aspect of our education programs. For example, we can apply them to our scope and sequence of classes. How does our scope and sequence help us accomplish the overall goal of our ministry? They can also be applied to our teacher training programs.
Having already begun to brainstorm answers to the questions, I have realized that specific answers to these four questions are difficult. This is good because it makes me focus on all the details of our program. The third question asked was, “How does each program or ministry fit into the context of our church” (Stovall, 2008, p. 443). This is something we use regularly with our deacons as we continually strive to improve the various ministries within our church. However, I have never really thought about it specifically in relation to our education program. Afterall, the fact that our programs fit within the overall scope of our church is self-explanatory. The church has a responsibility to teach, and our Bible School programs facilitate that responsibility. But, thinking about the specifics of this question in relation to our education program has been enlightening. What exactly is best suited to be taught within our education curriculum? Are some things better taught in other ways? This is a great question to explore.
Overall, the reading this week was a good reminder of my lack of needed evaluation. Even in a Covid season, while Bible classes are still not yet back to what we consider normal, education evaluation is still necessary. More importantly, this has been a good opportunity to consider how to move forward in the best way possible. Covid has led to new ways for us to teach. Can these ways be utilized once the restrictions are lifted? I have learned that there really is not a normal to what we do right now. People are, in my opinion, more open to change. The “sacred cows” (Stovall, 2008, p. 448) discussed in our reading seem to be less sacred than they used to be for our members. I look forward to the fruit of further evaluation as we progress as a church.
Stovall, T. (2008). Evaluating the teaching ministry. In W.R. Yount (Ed.), The teaching ministry of the church (2nd ed.) (pp. 436-451).
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