Children’s ministry leaders know that Sundays can be busy for families headed to church. As a mom and a Sunday School teacher, I’ll confess that more often than not I am running behind just trying to get out the door! My kids are chronically late to almost everything that has a specific start time. We almost always lose a shoe or accidentally get slime stuck in someone’s hair, requiring emergency extraction. I know there are families who arrive to Sunday School early, but mine isn’t one of them.
While parents know that pastors and the children’s ministry/youth ministry teams are there to serve, they don’t always have the chance to have meaningful conversations with them. They know we work hard to make sure our children are learning and fellowshipping with each other in affirming and character building ways, but they might not know the details as they rush through drop-off and pick-up. They know we are dedicated to teaching Bible stories for kids and Sunday School curriculum that is rooted in teaching kids faith in Jesus, but they might know how much we value feedback from parents. Are your parents often in a hurry, ready to drop the kids off and then scoot on to lunch afterward before sweet little Jasmine’s hungry monster kicks in? Because of situations like this, church staff and teachers are not always sure how or when to request an assessment from families.
Obtaining feedback is necessary for the continued growth and development of the program and especially for our children, but if parents are asked to take a weekly survey, 9 times out of 10 they will opt out – not because they don’t care, but because the survey email gets buried underneath the hundreds of others and becomes a total “out of sight, out of mind” scenario. If parents are handed a paper survey at child pickup, it has certainly already been ripped, folded, scribbled on, dropped in the hallway, left behind on the way out the door, or destroyed by their 5 year old during the 4 minute walk to the car.
To solve the survey conundrum, we’ve discovered 5 effective ways to collect feedback from Sunday School parents that will boost engagement and responses.
- Talk to the Kids
Survey the students first. At the end of each class, during the lesson review, ask the children what they liked and disliked about today’s class. They are the people attending and I have yet to meet a little person or adolescent without an opinion. Create a safe space for them to offer up their youth ministry ideas, suggestions, and critiques. This practice builds confidence in the student’s personal development, and helps build trust between the students and teachers. Offering a space for student feedback lets the children know that their ideas, thoughts, and questions are important and that they are worthy of being heard. We focus so much on what parents think, but giving the children a voice in the survey process is exactly what Jesus would do (Matthew 19:14), and definitely a fantastic place to start when seeking feedback.
- Tap Yes or No
During drop off and pickup times, have a tablet available for parents to complete the survey on site and offer as many open ended responses as possible. Multiple choice questions and “yes” or “no” responses are faster, but when families can offer more in depth input, new and creative ideas can thrive.
- Don’t Ask Too Often
Do not ask for weekly feedback. The thought of being emailed each week about my children’s classes is super overwhelming and my participation will fade quickly. Quarterly surveys are most effective and respectful of everyone’s time.
- Text Messaging is Your Friend
Send your survey as a text message notification. If you are texting me, you’ve got my attention! When parents check their children into class, ask them to opt into your text updates. When you are ready to receive feedback, ask them to spend two minutes to contribute their thoughts and send a link to the survey. Remember that if your survey has a progress bar, you will see more engagement. SurveyMonkey is a great option for surveying via text message as well as online.
- Use Social Media
Consider creating a Facebook and/or Instagram account for your children’s or youth ministry. Each of these social platforms offer effective ways to survey your community with polls, voting, commenting, etc. Since most parents are already checking in on their social channels multiple times daily, you can easily grab their attention throughout the week without overwhelming their inbox.
Teaching kids about Jesus and cultivating their faith is imperative to their spiritual growth. Allowing space for parents and students to share their ideas will build a stronger sense of community and love. A well thought out survey could be your church’s biggest asset for an effective children’s program.
About the Author
currently lives and works in Nashville, TN with her family and rescue goldendoodle puppy.