So you’ve finished your experimental worship service / high tension meeting / community event celebrating a new partnership. What happens next? For many, we think to ourselves, “That was interesting,” or “What’s next?” and continue on our way without reflecting more deeply. Industrial Areas Foundation founder Saul Alinksy calls out church leaders for leaving un-evaluated events as “a pile of undigested happenings.” By incorporating time for reflection and evaluation into our routine life, we are better able to learn from our experiences and add to our store of social knowledge. How do we do this?
- Immediately after the event, gather your community–folks who planned or led the event, participants, insiders and outsiders, etc. (Learn more about why it’s important to include a diverse group here.)
- Ask everyone for one word or phrase that describes how they are feeling. In a group of twenty people, you will have twenty different experiences of and responses to the same event. Hold everyone to one word or phrase (or less than 30 seconds.) The purpose of doing rounds in this way is to gauge the temperature of the room and encourage leaders to share honestly about their experience.
- Review your big picture goals or objectives for the event–were they met? (Ex: Was there an exchange of power? What did you do well? Where was the learning?)
- Check in about specific details–if you were to repeat this event, what logistical adjustments would you make based on today’s experience? (Were you adequately prepared? What research will you need to complete before moving forward?)
- Continue looking back and evaluating two weeks out, two months out, etc. to think about the event’s effectiveness over time.
For more guidance, check out this IAF resource.