Ever had those moments? Months and months of planning and preparation for that weekend retreat. It’s Sunday night, you’ve just finished unpacking the truck at the church, and finally you’re home. What a relief! The question is, how do we follow up the event to make sure we tie up those lose ends and ensure that we learn and grow so that next year’s retreat is even better? Here’s a little acronym I developed a few years ago that helps us to A.C.E. our event follow up.
- The Visual: Cards.
- The Reminder: Look Around.
- The Main Question: Who enabled us to pull this event off?
- Further Considerations: What did they do to contribute? How can we compliment their efforts and show our appreciation for their contributions? This might be as simple as a card, a small gift, or as elaborate as taking the team away on for a fun weekend together to recognize them and show our gratitude.
Celebrate. Another important aspect of follow-up is to discover what took place in the hearts and lives of our students. If we’re really about transformation and not just entertainment, we need to provide opportunity for reflection and sharing. We want to celebrate the activity of the living God in our midst.
- The Visual: Cake.
- The Reminder: Look Back.
- The Main Question: What did God do through this event?
- Further Considerations: How can we provide an opportunity for people to share what God did in their lives? Can we have a testimony night? A retreat reunion a few months down the road? How can we expose the church at large to what took place in our students’ lives? Will our pastor allow a couple of students to give their testimonies on a Sunday morning? Who can video record some students talking about the weekend and how they intend to continue growing in what they learned?
Evaluate. Finally, it’s important that we step back and objectively assess how things went. This is a time when we need to get our core leaders together for a communication session during which we need to ask open, honest, and sometimes hard questions.
- Visual: Communication.
- The Reminder: Look Ahead.
- The Main Question: What have we learned?
- Further Considerations: In what ways did we achieve the objectives of the event? Where and how did we fall short of the desired outcomes? How did the leaders do? Walk through the logistical questions pertaining to cost, transportation, facilities, etc. How can we improve? Where do we go from here?
I am sure that you will think of many more questions to ask, but hopefully these three items will get you moving in the right direction. Learn to A.C.E. your event follow-up! Appreciate Team. Celebrate God. Evaluate Objectively.