Why You Need & How to Have Pre-, Mid-, & Post- Service Debriefs

Pre, Mid, Post Service Debriefs

Have you ever felt like not everyone on your team is on the same page on Sunday morning?

Maybe something doesn’t feel quite right before service, or something needs to be adjusted after the 1st service, or maybe you need to get together after service to figure out what happened? This is why I’m a HUGE supporter of having regular debriefs with your team.

Debriefs are basically a time where you and your team talk about what’s going to happen or what has happened, so that you can make adjustments to do even better. Team Meeting, Touch Point, it doesn’t matter what you call it, but you should have debriefs built into your service programming workflow for 3 reasons:

Debriefs provide CLARITY, COMMUNICATION, & ACCOUNTABILITY around your gatherings.Click To Tweet

1. You increase clarity.

These debriefs help you to clarify why you’re doing things in your gatherings, how they should be done, and how they can be better. The more clarity you have among your team, the more likely it will happen like you planned.

2. You increase communication.

Debriefs are mainly a communication function. If something happens, and we don’t talk about it, then communication has broken down and nothing gets fixed.

3. You increase accountability.

When you know you’re going to be held accountable in a debrief, it’s more likely that people will monitor their responsibilities more closely. Accountability over time will breed excellence.

ACCOUNTABILITY over time will breed EXCELLENCE.Click To Tweet

I don’t believe that it takes a lot to make these debriefs happen, simply just some added intentionality. I do want to say that what follows ASSUMES that you have some kind of team meeting during the week, before the weekend, to program your service. If you’re not doing that, then debriefs will only add frustration.

Here’s a few pointers on incorporating debriefs into your service programming workflow, many of which you can start THIS WEEKEND!

Use All 3 Types.

I believe in using all 3 types of debriefs: Pre-Service, Mid-Service, & Post-Service. They all have specific functions and work together to provide a full picture that you can use to better execute your gathering plans.

The Pre-Service debrief is designed to get everyone on the same page, first thing that morning. We do ours before a full run through and use that time to walk through the entire service. We focus on talking through transitions, details, and clarifying any grey-areas for our team.

The Mid-Service debrief is intended for course correction. We have 2 services, so after the first service, we meet up and talk through everything to see if anything needs to be tightened up, changed, or dropped all together. We’ve had instances where we’ve dropped a whole song, and it make the entire service better.

The Post-Service debrief is meant to be an overall analysis of how the morning went. These debriefs are especially helpful for the long term and determining what kinds of elements work and don’t work in your gatherings.

Clarify the Win.

Each debrief should have a clear and understood win. The Pre-Service debrief is meant to get everyone on the same page. The Mid-Service debrief is to course correct. The Post-Service debrief is to determine if we’re hitting our desired marks.

Everyone involved in the debrief should know these wins, because that will shape the conversations had during these meetings. If our teammates don’t know what these debriefs are for, they’re likely not to take them seriously or not treat them as important.

Include the Right People.

Different people should be involved in each of the different debriefs.

For instance, we have EVERYONE involved in our gathering attend our Pre-Service debrief, because we want everyone on the same page. Our Mid-Service debrief is only for a few (3-4) leaders, because we want it to be quick and honest. From there, those leaders can let their team know about any changes. Our Post-Service debrief is typically only staff, because we do it the Tuesday morning following the gathering.

While making sure the right people are in the meeting, ensuring that the wrong people are left out is important too. Many of these debriefs are meant to be times for leaders to talk about plans they created. Including too many voices can bog down the process and make them difficult to get through. There are better venues to have your team give input (which I’m all for as well).

Each Debrief Needs a Leader.

Like most meetings, if someone isn’t guiding the ship, everyone will feel it. Make sure that you have someone appointed who knows how to guide each debrief successfully.

For instance, all of our debriefs that happen on a Sunday morning are led by our Production Director. He knows all of the details for the morning, so he’s the best choice to quarterback these debriefs. Likewise, I lead our Post-Service debrief because I’m the one ultimately responsible for the quality and content of our gatherings.

One more thing: Make sure you have the right leader for the debrief. Having the wrong leader is almost worse than having no leader at all. Make sure that person understands the purpose of the debrief, and what needs to be taken care of during that time.

Be Brutally Honest.

This is probably the most important feature of these debriefs. Without complete honesty, you’re not going to make strides as a team. If everyone is worried about not hurting feelings, then no one is going to address that the pastor went 15 minutes too long or the prayer the worship leader used at the end of the set didn’t make sense.

This is another reason that including only the right people in the debrief is important. Having only the leaders involved helps to make honesty a priority because everyone understands the purpose and intention of that debrief. A leader can take a brutal truth (i.e. that worship leader’s prayer didn’t make any sense) and communicate it more appropriately to their team (i.e. “hey worship leader, when you pray out the set, can you focus more on . . .”).

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