My first experience with feedback involved a portable 8-track player. If I didn’t separate the speakers before turning up the volume it sounded like giant fingernails on a parking lot sized chalkboard. It wasn’t good. It was feedback. I never, ever wanted it to happen again.
Now, music is no longer played on tiny plastic suitcases that you put in a toaster slot.
But the biggest change—feedback is now a good thing!
Maybe not on speakers, but for an FX.
The Family Experience is a unique environment where third grade boys are welcome. So are their parents. Since they are both in the same place, watching the same thing, participating in the same worship, playing the same games, they can both give you an honest assessment of how it is affecting their lives. You will know the third grade boy really, really, really likes what you are doing in his life when he kicks you in the shins. Naturally, this feedback isn’t fun to receive. Fortunately, his parents are also in the room. You’ll know that they really, really, really like it when they stay for just a moment after the production. They’ll quietly come over to you and say something like, “Last week when you guys showed that funny video, yeah, we talked about that when Junior didn’t clean up his room. Thanks.” It means the same thing, but feels a lot better than a kick in the shins.
But, just like 8-tracks had to be intentionally changed, you have to intentionally seek out feedback for your environment. One set of eyes and ears will not be enough to check in on all the families that attend. You need a team. You need your entire team.
Make sure that everyone who has a defined job for your FX (sound, lights, props, stage manager, greeter, performer, worship leader, video editor, etc.), EVERYONE, knows that in addition to their assignment, their primary job is to collect stories of how the environment is working (or not working) in the lives of families. Provide a way to regularly hear this feedback as a group. This can be at a production meeting, or a rehearsal, or in a post-production meeting.
This kind of story collecting does a couple of things for you that isn’t available in any other setting. First, it enables volunteers to be a significant part of the ministry. They are no longer pushing a button or moving a couch. Now, they are part of a ministry that enables parents to be spiritual leaders in their homes. Second, it keeps a feedback loop open so that your team knows what is effective, and what may need to change. Now, all the eyes and ears on your team are open for collecting feedback. Now, you will hear stories that you would never be able to hear on your own.
This month, take a look at your FX and make sure you have a good feedback loop in place.
To sum up—feedback is good. Eight-tracks . . . not so much.