By Jacob Toman
Planning for an event must be marked by inquisitive prayer.
Participating in an event must be marked by energetic presence.
Post-event Evaluation must be marked by excellent feedback.
In the last few posts I’ve talked about the process we go through at Gospel & Gaming when planning a ministry event. In the first post I gave a list of several questions that guide the preparation of a ministry event. In evaluating how an event went it’s important to see where goals were met, and where goals were underachieved. To do this effectively it’s important to go back and reflect on the planning and preparations made for the event itself. Detailed evaluation of the differences between the expectations for an event and the reality of the event allow for future corrections and improvements.
Detailed evaluation of the differences between the expectations for an event and the reality of the event allow for future corrections and improvements.
I've found it incredibly important to be able to answer each of these questions from different voices in order to have a healthy concept of whether the event was something to repeat, improve upon, or abandon for future efforts.
What sort of Event did we pursue? Online? Face to Face?
What sort of people did God give us to pursue relationships with?
Was there tangible impact made for the Kingdom through this event?
What did it take to put this event on?
What language groups were represented?
What was the overall feeling of those who attended as they left?
Feelings of both success and failure are driven by expectations. In creating a ministry event there will be both positive outcomes, as well as some areas to improve on; recognizing and expecting both positive and negative outcomes helps during evaluation of an event. Keeping expectations in line with reality helps us as missionaries evaluate responsibly without hyperbole or exaggeration.
One particular online event Gospel & Gaming was at was a recent League of Legends event hosted by multiple online gaming communities: Good Guy Gaming, GamRule, as well as some midwestern Colleges (St. Louis University, Valparaiso, University of Chicago, and University of Missouri at St. Louis).
In evaluating this event we noticed we had a significantly lower turnout than on previous weeks. We typically average 12 teams per Friday Night event; this week we only had 8.
In our post-event evaluation of this event, we ultimately brainstormed that due to the timing of the event in relationship to a particular international holiday, several of our Chinese teams were unable to attend the event. Combining this with midterms meant several teams locally were not able to attend.
Without the feedback from our volunteers and interacting with students who normally come to the event we would have no understanding for the sudden drop off in attendance. Information Technology is about gathering metrics, numbers, and data. Using that data wisely is the difference between a set of numbers on a spreadsheet, and a formula for repeatable, impactful events.
In the above picture from another online event, we had a grand total of 17 participating teams, more than double from the previous example, which meant we needed twice as many volunteers to run it. In our post-event evaluation we noted that several new teams had signed up, along with repeat users who had attended our events in the past. This particular event expanded our reach of contacts for future events, and it also lead to new opportunities to share the gospel with repeat users who were looking for a patient ear to listen.
Understanding why a particular phenomenon happens during an event can lead to either the repeat of a desired outcome, or avoiding making the same mistake twice. Excellent evaluation is the end of one event cycle, but the beginning of another. With every event we run or are a part of, we want to be accountable to the resources God has given to us to use, including our finances, our time, and our expertise. For us at Gospel & Gaming, excellent event evaluation is one of the ways we pursue building God’s Kingdom.