I think evaluation is important. In fact, it may be equally important to the planning that goes into any event. And, for churches, just as we ask God to direct our thoughts and energies in creating and implementing an event in the church, we should ask God to direct us in evaluating what worked and what didn’t work.
We recently evaluated a major day (Easter) with some of our team. It flowed naturally. We got great feedback and learned some things to improve next year.
The evaluation process doesn’t always go that easily.
When evaluation isn’t being productive or your team isn’t in the routine of evaluating, let me share an idea that might help.
You need to script your evaluation process.
(Granted, some will struggle with the word “Event” being used to describe Easter weekend. And, I understand that, so you can call it anything you want. I’m using the word so that this idea can help you evaluate more than just Easter weekend.)
First, make sure the right people are in the room. I’ve done this in large and small settings, but you want voices at the table that can speak to most of what you were evaluating. For example, we since we were evaluating our Easter weekend, it would have made no sense if the only ones evaluating were the worship team and me. We were on the platform most of the time or only in our worship center. We needed people who could observe how guests were treated, what was happening in our parking lots, if children were cared for and whether or not the bathrooms were kept clean. Of this group, I also want positive-minded people who love the church and want to continue to see us improve — even if that means change.
So, after the right people are in the room, here’s something I’ve done when things aren’t progressing. It’s simple, but it works.
I’ve often gone to the board (I have one whole wall in my office painted with whiteboard paint) and written an outline for us to follow — a script if you will — to guide our thoughts to evaluate effectively.
Write down each of the words in bold, ask the questions — and you can think of better questions to add — and let people talk through each one.
- What did we do well?
- What worked best?
- What do we know we want to do again next time?
The goal here is to talk about and discover those things that need to be repeated next time. They worked. They fully helped you live out your vision and the goals for the event. These are often the “no-brainers” and are usually easily drawn out from the discussion.
- What was good, but could be better?
- Where did we see the greatest energy, that with a little more effort could be huge?
- What do we know is a part of our values for the event — or for our church (or organization) — but it didn’t get enough attention?
This is perhaps the most important part of the discussion. Here you want to discover those things that have the potential to really take your event to the next level. Try to keep discussion centered only on the development of existing things you do at this point — not new things — you will get there in a minute. You don’t want to add a ton to an event unless what you did was terribly bad and you need to start completely over with all new. Most of the time developing what you currently do and making it better is easier, more palatable for people’s tolerance to change, and more effective.
- What do we not need to do again?
- What didn’t work at all?
- What was the most draining effort, but produced little or no return for the investment?
- What is tired, worn out, ready to be laid to rest before we do this again?
I tried to word those questions as pleasantly as possible, and if you prefer, use the word “delete”, but the idea here is what do you need to not do next time? You need to discover what needs killing. Don’t be shy here. This could be the hardest one, because this is where turf wars develop and feelings can come to the discussion, but you have to do it. If it didn’t work and it was expensive or labor-intensive — get rid of it next time. And, the reason it’s so important is that you can use that energy to pour into things you listed under the develop heading. And, that’s important too, because you don’t just want to take too much away from people without giving them something back that’s even better.
- What’s the wildest idea we could think of to do next time?
- What could we add next time that has the potential to be a “signature” aspect?
- If money was not an option, what would we do to make this better?
I love this one, but don’t put a ton of time into it — and don’t do it at all until you’ve done the others — but give some time to dreaming about the future. Honestly, I prefer the Develop one over this one as far as sustainability and productivity goes, but some really great ideas can originate here. Perhaps time this and stop when the ideas begin to turn really crazy, but allow people an opportunity to stretch the event into something no one has imagined.
Leader, you don’t have to be the moderator of this. Depending on the group someone else may be better at this and let you participate more in the discussion.
Make someone is the recorder in the room. We sometimes write ideas under the words and take a picture of the board — but I always suggest someone record these ideas into a document of some kind. We frequently create a Google Doc that we can share with others and store for later use. The more organize you are with your notes the more useful they will be next time you’re ready to do the event again.
Finally, I’d limit the time on this whole process. Maybe allot time to each one and then come back to them if you have time. It can grow stale if you linger too long in one of these discussions.
Hope this helps — and I’d love to hear from you if it does.