a great example of organizational self examination
A magnifying vanity mirror. Used with permission.

To be a successful ministry, you must ask tough questions about your ministry’s performance. Andy Harrington, Executive Director at Greater Vancouver Youth For Christ (GVYFC), did just that. His analysis is a model literature review and performance analysis, and best of all, he’s willing to share his report with you.

Eleven years ago, Andy wrote a thesis to complete his MA in Evangelism Studies and the purpose of the thesis was to find the best methods for evangelism for GVYFC. The situation and results that he describes at the ministry are quite out of date today, so please keep that in mind. After completing the thesis, he used it to refresh and renew the ministry at GVYFC and the results have been great. By taking a hard look at their practices and results his team built a much more fruitful ministry!

You can download Harrington’s thesis and use it to stimulate ideas for how you could review your own ministry. While the content will be helpful to anyone with a youth ministry, the process he used is applicable to any ministry. Here’s what he’s done so well in this 90-page thesis:

  • He documented the program rationale that governed the design of their many programs. I don’t think that had been done before so he had to look at what they were doing and then reverse-engineer the theoretical foundation that justified their programs. That meant he had to create both a theory of change and a logic model. Although he doesn’t use those terms or build a diagram, he does document them in narrative form. I wrote about how to do this at a the program level, so this is a good example at the organizational level. You should have a theory of change and logic model at both the organizational and program levels.
  • Andy does a great literature review to ensure he is right up-to-date on the latest thinking in youth evangelism. He researched general shifts in culture, particularly from modern to post-modern world-views, and the agents that are driving youth culture. Again, I wrote about doing literature reviews at the program level, and Andy has shown how to do for the organization. You should do both.
  • He addresses the issue of how to define success for their ministry and then found a way to measure it. I’ll be writing about this topic later in the CCCC strategic review that is currently underway.
  • After doing all the analysis, Andy then addresses the “So what?” question and develops several strategies that will take GVYFC to a new level of effectiveness. He suggests that YFC and other movements adopt a new embodied apologetic, rather than relying on a programmatic approach. This apologetic incorporates five factors; the cultural desire among young people for authentic relationship, their openness to spirituality, the importance of story, the concept of journeying together and the formation of community.

Thank you, Andy, for sharing your thesis! May we all learn how to look hard at our own ministries and enjoy benefits similar to what you have experienced.

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