Once I got home, I realised that my evaluation form was in my purse with the other paperwork. I’m not sure if the office will accept late evaluation comments, but we were keen to depart—the work of Synod had been completed, the sun was shining… for me the form was not a priority at that time. Had I stayed behind to fill it in, the responses would have been fast, short, and not very deep.
By contrast, another evaluation I recently filled out had a totally different feel. It was sent out as a survey (online) after the meeting, and we were asked to carefully consider our feedback. Filling out that form was done when I was rested, not overly-preoccupied, at a convenient time for me. I was reading the questions more carefully, and was more engaged with the responses as a result.
Evaluations are a part of life. They come up just about every gathering, conference, Synod. Often, the folks creating and compiling evaluations are genuinely interested in learning how their efforts were received. Sometimes, it’s being done because it’s always been done. Some evaluation forms never feed into the next planning process; some are carefully read and used to influence future gatherings. Some forms will simply give the same-old-same-old, others may offer creative alternatives and ideas.
Evaluations matter. Learning and using feedback is important.
And it’s not just for the logistics of a meeting; we could all do a regular evaluation of our lives as Christians. Imagine if we had a form to fill out each week: How often did we pray? How much scripture did we read? Did we seek out new ways to exercise our ministry? Did we spend time discerning how God is calling us into action? &c.
Obviously, we don’t have a form—being a Christian isn’t a checklist to compare numbers. But we do have opportunity to deeply reflect on how being a Christian has impacted our lives and influenced our engagements. We can spend time asking ourselves how God is active in our lives. We can contemplate what God is calling us to do at this time. We can examine the depths of our spiritual selves and decide if it’s been a good week, or if we want to do things differently next week.
And so we are challenged to evaluate our journey with God and with the world. Sometimes we may ignore that invitation, or hastily jot anything down, or delve deeply into prayerful consideration. Sometimes we forget what we’ve prayed, sometimes we carry our evaluations carefully with us.
Whatever we choose, however, will have an impact on our futures; we get to decide if we’re happy with the same-old-same-old, or if we want things to be different/better. But those changes we want to happen can only occur if we’ve done our spiritual evaluation forms.