When you host a special day or event as a church—such as for Resurrection Sunday or a graduation or conference—it is tempting to finish the event and then kick into low gear. Or, if you are Type A like me, finish the event and quickly move on to the next!
We have learned however, that it is helpful to pause for debriefing and to be sure we have thoroughly tied up loose ends before calling the event finished.
I suggest five questions as helpful starting points. The first four are ones that we ask in a pastoral staff or leadership meeting. The last is one only you can answer.
1. What went well?
Obviously, this is a good time to give God thanks for the results—souls saved, lives changed, teens reached, etc.
But go even a step further and ask, “What did we do that we should continue doing?” Perhaps it was a greeter training meeting that you need to note should be repeated every year. Maybe a sound check timing that was good. Maybe having supplies for altar workers in a certain place.
Take a few moments to evaluate, not only the results, but elements of the process that you want to be sure to use again.
2. What could be improved or eliminated?
This is where we address space issues, supply shortages, music we did not feel worked, technical support, and any other details we noticed along the way could be improved or eliminated.
Often during an event, you will notice answers to this question. But if you don’t pause afterward to specifically take note and file your notes for the next time, you are likely to repeat the same mistakes.
3. How should we follow up?
An outreach event is never complete until the follow up is stewarded. As a pastor, I track this follow up very carefully, receiving a report each Friday that includes who has been followed up on, by whom, and what the response was—as well as who has not yet been followed up on.
Sometimes event follow up also includes clean up, repairs, or planning time in the future to address specific areas that need improvement. It is time-activating anything that came up in the question, “What can we improve?”
4. Who can I thank and how?
Any large event that goes well has had many people—often volunteers—invest into it. Take time to think through who has selflessly gone the second (and third and forth) miles, and express your gratitude to them.
It may be as simple as a note. It may be accompanied with a gift card. When possible, I like to encourage a staff leader who invested weeks of his life into an event to take a paid day or two off.
Don’t “move on” without thanking those who freely gave themselves to labor alongside you. They did it for God’s glory, but hearing “thank you” is encouraging.
5. Have I scheduled rest/family time?
Heading into a large event, I usually plan that I am going to be “off balance” for several days. For the weeks leading into Resurrection Sunday, for instance, I focus on soulwinning several times through the week. Before Spiritual Leadership Conference, I spend full weeks preparing my sermon and session outlines.
For the sake of my family (and, as I’ve been learning in the past few years, my health), I must plan some time to recoup and invest in them after these crazy busy weeks. It may be as simple as a day with the grandkids at a theme park, or it may be blocking off a few days to spend with Terrie, read, and reset my batteries.
Ultimately, any successful results we see in a ministry event are by the power of the Holy Spirit. And yet, we know He uses our efforts—which is why we invest so much effort into these kinds of events.
I don’t want to drift from one event to the next just “doing my best” when I could learn from each event and, in the future, give purposed energy and follow up to the work that God is doing.