Do you ever wonder why Creative Teams get stuck in ruts? Ever wonder why you continue to make the same mistakes over and over again? Do you ever wonder if your team has a clue as to what you’re doing and more importantly…WHY? If you ever want to grow and develop your creativity, then you’re going to have to face the one word that makes fragile little creative snowflakes tremble … EVALUATION.
I had a friend I used to work with at another church, years ago, who was one of the most brilliant, prolific and creative people I have ever known. Together we created some of the most moving and memorable moments I’ve ever experienced in church. It was groundbreaking , deep, moving, hilarious stuff. Truly creative work. But every couple of weeks, it would happen. Like a storm cloud on the horizon, my friend would begin to question everything he was doing. While he loved our church, the artist in him would begin to whisper in hs ear.
“Why are you doing this here? This isn’t art, this is work. Every weekend you have to pump something out and put it in front of people who either won’t get it or won’t remember it. You are an artist. This isn’t art.”
He wrestled with the fact that he not only had to come up with something new every weekend, but that his work would be evaluated every Monday. His “art” had to “work.” Creativity by its nature tends to resist utility. Ever felt that way?
When you do something as divine as creating something from nothing, the last thing you want to hear is that it didn’t land, wasn’t helpful, went too long, wasn’t funny, or that the dog in his tiny tuxedo walking down the aisle was a little much (true story – that really happened…we really did that…and it really didn’t work). Isn’t it enough that we created something from nothing? Why does it have to be evaluated? I mean, no one ever evaluated Jesus’ sermons!
“Hey Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount was great this morning. Really inspired stuff. But if I’m being honest, it was a little long. Our Children’s Ministry ran out of crafts and snacks before you even got to the part about divorce. Speaking of which, were there any “Bottom Lines”? I don’t remember any. You might want to think that through for the 11 a.m. service. Also, the audio was a little rough; people in the back had a hard time hearing. I noticed a couple of people getting disengaged and doodling on their iParchments.”
While we may initially resist or avoid it, healthy critique and honest evaluation are some of the best tools you can keep in your creative toolbelt. They are a gift to the people you serve and to your own creative development. Critique and evaluation are essential to the creative process. They let us know if we are accomplishing the mission of our organization. They force us to face the fact that there is still room to grow and improve. And they put us in a posture of submission and serving. They remind us that we actually don’t create for ourselves; we create for God and for others.
There are a ton of churches and creative organizations that I know and have worked with that have NO process of evaluation. They just do what they do and hope that it works. And those that actually do have some sort of evaluation process tend to shortcut or sidestep honest and helpful critique the following ways: – They evaluate based on how THEY feel things went. – They avoid honest and difficult feedback. – They measure the wrong things. – They don’t have the right people around the circle. – They listen to the loudest voice in the room. – They fail to follow up and have action steps for improvement. – They miss the essential balance of both evaluation and celebration.
All of us want to grow and get better at how and what we create. None of us wants to offer God and those we work with anything less than our best. So why wouldn’t we submit ourselves to a healthy process of celebration, evaluation, and critique? At Soul City Church, our Creative Team gathers every Monday to look back at the gathering we just had and look ahead to the next couple of gatherings. We have THREE Basic Rules and ask THREE Simple Questions.
– 1 –
Come with your insights and input thought through. Take notes during our gathering. Pay attention to more than your part, etc.
– 2 –
If you are quiet, we don’t grow. This is the meeting…this is the time.If you hold back, you’re holding us all back.
– 3 –
Speak the Truth in Love.
Be brutally honest without being totally brutal. We’re all adults, let’s act like it. Be specific and give examples.
– 1 –
Where did we see God move?
Share stories from our volunteers or from your perspective. Where did you tangibly sense the presence and movement of God? How were you personally moved by God?
– 2 –
What do we need to celebrate and improve on?
What worked? Where were we at our best? Who needs to be celebrated and encouraged? We write thank you notes to volunteers that we want to celebrate every week.
– 3 –
What didn’t work and why?
Where and why did we miss? Was it worth the risk, but lacked the payoff?How can we improve? Who’s going to take ownership/responsibility to grow us in that area?
That’s it. I am always amazed at the level of feedback and growth that can come from such simple questions, and when the right people in the room give honest and helpful critique and evaluation. When we lay our pride down, are committed to our growth and development, and hold Artist and Servant in the same hand. And when we know what we are called to accomplish and actually hold ourselves to it.
Are you a part of a Creative Team in your Church, Company, or Organization? Do you have regular / consistent times for evaluation and critique? Do you have a clear process for evaluation or critique?How can you share / implement these ideas into your creative team / process?