You FINALLY reach the end of an event and you collapse at your desk in exhaustion. You’re surprised you can even find your desk after having to navigate around pool noodles, googly eyes, stacks of books, and a pizza box that has been there since sometime last month…..or was it the month before that?
A tiny hysterical laugh comes out of your mouth and you quickly clap your hand over your lips. Nobody should be that happy that the event is over.
Your office door cracks open and the last woman to leave is that woman. The one who bustles in looking like she’s as fresh as a spring daisy. She’s carrying bags of who knows what. She beams at you and says, “oh my goodness, what a precious time this has been! I can not wait until next year! Sign me up now!” She then places the bags she’s been carrying on the last empty floor space and skips (yes, skips! The woman is actually skipping!) out of your office humming the song you haven’t been able to get out of your head all week.
You put your head down on your desk, narrowly missing the gob of silly putty, and allow yourself to give way to semi-hysterical laughter. The only thought you have in your overwhelmed exhausted head is, “next year, the woman said next year….”.
Okay, we’ve all been there. Whether we’re talking about VBS, a 9 month mid-week program, camp, Easter, or even just one of “those” Sundays…. we’ve been there. We’ve survived to the end of it and somebody needs to prop us up on the couch with an ice cream sundae and a good book because we deserve it. And you truly do.
I don’t know about you but when I reach the end of something the last thing I want to do is look back. If I survived I want to move into recovery and celebration. I do not want to watch the replay version and critique myself and the event. However, that is exactly what I need to do.
As much as I hate evaluating I have found it to be invaluable. Absolutely invaluable.
It’s takes intentionality and preparation. I begin thinking about evaluating before the event actually happens. With VBS I put our evaluation meeting on the calendar before we even start VBS. It’s that important.
So dear kidmin, stumind, fammin, or just plain min peeps I encourage you to evaluate. Gather your team and talk about it. For VBS we’ll give every one of our volunteers an evaluation and then we’ll pull the leadership team together to go through them and our own evaluations. We make notes and when it comes around to start planning the event again we pull those notes out. It’s shocking that the things I’m sure I will never forget, (like the fact that we didn’t turn the air on soon enough one day and it got over 90 in the sanctuary) that surely are burned into my memory FOREVER, are quickly forgotten. God’s mercy? Perhaps.
Always, always, always look for the God moments as you evaluate. It’s easy to look at what went wrong, what didn’t run smoothly, where we failed. It’s much more of a treasure hunt to see God at work in the midst of our failures. Not only will looking for those God moments bless your heart, they communicate to your team that He’s the most important aspect of the event. Help your team mine for the nuggets of God’s blessings. Point to Him as you evaluate.
4 great evaluation questions:
1. What aspect(s) of this event did you think went GREAT!?
2. What aspect(s) of this event could have gone better?
3. As a leadership team, how could we have better equipped you to have an amazing experience serving our kids (teens, adults, families, etc)?
4. Where did you see God at work (in your life, the life of a kid, the life of someone else) in this event?
Keep it simple, keep it short, keep it pointed on the ONE who, blessedly, doesn’t ever fail and who always is at work regardless of what we do well or….not so well.
And PS. Leave your office a mess, go home, kiss your family, crawl into bed with ice cream, and relax. Evaluation is best done 2-4 weeks after the event, and after you’ve had some sleep.