One of the regrets after leaving my last call was that I never had an Exit Interview. It just never happened, probably because schedules simply became too hectic. And then I was gone, off to live in The Prairie State.
We have lots of opportunities in the world to debrief and dissect. Doctors have M&M Meetings to chart out new disease outbreaks, and the point is to keep those outbreaks at bay. Our Presbytery Staff meets for a Debrief after Assembly meetings to correct missteps and analyze what worked and what didn’t work. The point is to improve as we go to the next Assembly meeting. Wise Conference Planners review the evaluations from conference participants and then keep notes to pass along to the next team of planners.
One of the reasons we get stuck in the way we are the church together is because we make the same mistakes – often for decades. We run the same programs – the Annual Ham Dinner, Vacation Bible School, the Advent Bible Study – each year whether they were successful or not. I would define “success” this way:
- Community Life is bolstered by spending quality time together, serving together, enjoying each other.
- Spiritual growth results from the community-building and theological study.
- Outreach into the community is positive and obvious.
Why would we continue to keep the same customs each year if they aren’t fruitful? Or maybe they are fruitful for only a handful of people while the neighbors haven’t even noticed the church is there.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, I remember that my mom used to keep a notebook with years of menus from assorted holiday dinners. In The Notebook, she would write down that year’s menu, who was present at the feast, what people liked and didn’t like, and what she would do differently next year. And then she did it differently next year.
We can talk about what the church used to look like, what the Next Church will look like. But until we make concrete changes, nothing much will change.