making time (anytime) for the debrief

Yesterday’s post on the importance of following Big Events with Purposeful Processes mentioned one tool for this: the “debrief.” Here’s a re-edited post from a couple of years ago that outlined the wonders of this method…

Plenty of college ministries will venture out on mission trips during Spring Break or this summer. But many of those groups won’t participate in the uber-important step of debriefing their students (and staff) afterwards. That’s too bad!

As many of you already know, a purposeful Debrief is one of the best opportunities to help students “lock in” what they’ve learned over the course of a trip – as well as allowing the fruit to “ferment” and grow, as students and leaders share with each other what they noticed, realized, and gained from the trip.

A Debrief serves an evaluative purpose, too, as we ask, “What could we do better next time?,” “What was the most effective thing we did?,” and related questions.

But let’s go a step further. That’s when this week’s Fridea hit me: Intentionally debrief following all kinds of events.

Many of us have a hard time not simply moving on to the next “thing,” instead of purposely contemplating the events recently completed. But our ministries are less effective than they could be without some serious reflection following events, no matter how well (or how terribly) they seemed to go. (Of course, this kind of Debriefing is far more effective when you have some pre-decided purposes to compare your outcomes with – and thus Backwards College Ministry shows up once again!)

Not only does debriefing provide a chance for helpful evaluation of any event, but we can ask students the growth-related questions, too: “What did you get out of this week’s teaching?” “How did that ‘Night of Worship’ impact you?” “What did you realize while you were serving yesterday morning?” “What steps will you take to apply the series we just finished in small groups?”

Both forms of Debrief – evaluative and reflective – offer something amazing for our ministries. Why limit its use to mission trips?

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