Before you step into your next weekend evaluation meeting, there’s something everyone in that room needs to know: war is about to break out. I don’t mean a war between the lead pastor and the worship leader over that awkward transition after the last song. I mean an all out war for your creative team’s soul. What happens in this room is probably the most important hour of your team’s week and here’s why.
How you evaluate reveals your true priorities.
You may have heard it said, “What gets measured gets improved.” We are all sold on the idea of improvement, right? So what do we do? We jump into evaluation and start looking for things that we can improve. The problem is that measuring and improving are not the first tasks. The first task is actually deciding what gets measured.
How do we decide?
Our mission should determine what we measure.
We can use up our whole vital hour of evaluation each week asking questions like, ”How was the sound?” “How did the new song go?” “How cool was that cool video?” “How did the message flow?” Et cetera. While these are great questions to ask, they only measure the means to the end and do not directly measure the end itself. These questions are focused on only one of our top priorities (excellence in craft and performance, and production), but we also have to spend some time measuring the accomplishment of our mission of fulfilling the Great Commission, seeing lives changed. If we continue to leave our meetings without including this, we will lose the battle for the soul of our creative teams.
Here’s where it gets sticky. We can’t measure life-change, at least not accurately. We can count attendance, salvations, and baptisms, but we cannot quantify the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of people. It’s fine to keep count as long as we recognize that any number we put in these categories is a finite and gross underestimation of what God is actually doing with the seeds we are planting. He is the one who brings the harvest. He is the one who does the invisible work underground to make the seed grow. Paul says it clearly, “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:6 NLT)
It is understandable why we get stuck in the numbers rut. It’s easier to quantify our work than it is to quantify God’s work. But we shouldn’t be discouraged. While we may not be able to fully measure how God has used us to bring life-change and fulfill the Great Commission, we can celebrate it! And this is the secret weapon that will win this war.
We have to create a culture where the celebration of life change is equally valued as the measurement of excellence.
This is how we get evaluation to reflect our true priorities. In order to create this culture we need to have a strategic plan before we come into our meeting. The structure and focus will have to change.
Here are some practical ways that we can cultivate a healthy and balanced culture of evaluation within our creative teams.
1. BECOME STORY-GATHERERS.
Every weekend we need have our ears and eyes wide open to capture what’s happening in the hearts and lives of the people in the congregation. Go and talk to people, pay attention in conversation, and ask questions. Become an investigative reporter. It is amazing what you will begin to hear, if you will make the effort to seek out and listen to these stories.
2. CELEBRATE LIFE-CHANGE FIRST.
Take time at the very start of your meeting to celebrate. Don’t leave it until the end because it will get shoved out. If the stories periodically take over a whole meeting, who cares? Admit it! Wouldn’t it be awesome to walk into an evaluation meeting and be overwhelmed by stories of hearts being healed, marriages being restored, and lives being transformed? Make it a goal to regularly spend as much time telling stories as you do evaluating excellence.
3. PRAY TOGETHER OVER THE SEEDS THAT WERE PLANTED AND WATERED.
The most important thing we can do is to recognize that all of our evaluations, processes, and improvements cannot make a seed grow. Only God can do that, so pray with your team. Pour out your heart over the seeds your team plants every week.
Bottom line: We must commit to becoming excellent in our craft and better at celebrating life-change. At the end of the day, we have to acknowledge that success is in God’s hands – that His thoughts are so high above our thoughts and His ways above our ways. We can’t quantify infinite. We can’t grade it on a 1 to 5 scale. No algorithm could ever calculate the success and the reach of a good word spoken from the mouth of a humble and faithful servant.