Leading Life-Changing Debriefs of Your NSO
Debriefing your ministry activity, especially in a busy season like New Student Outreach (NSO), is critical. Through debrief, you can continue to learn about your context and how to minister to a new generation of students. Debrief is also the best way to help others learn how God is shaping them through missional risks. Whether NSO has been a great success or your ministry is struggling with disappointment – a debrief allows you to interpret the season from God’s perspective and aim the momentum going forward.
This resource will help you to turbo-charge your debriefs so that you and those you lead can get the most out of your time. The following tips and reflection questions were designed with NSO in mind, but can easily be adapted for any other ministry season.
Pro-tips for Life Changing Debriefs
- Ask Staff and Students for the Lessons Learned. Dig into the Learning Don't simply go over what happened, but what did they learn from what they tried? What do they know now about the campus? Leadership? What God is doing? If they could go back 4-5 weeks, what would they change? What do they want to do differently this week based on what they have learned? Be a Learner. What do you still want to learn about your campus? Students? Leading ministry? How will you set out to learn?
- Celebrate. Celebrate the risks of faith and the talent each person brought to NSO.
- Give Credit and Pain to Jesus. What exceeded expectations? Met expectations? Was weird or disappointing? Praise God and give thanks for the great things. And don't let pain fester: give it to Jesus and turn a disappointment into a discipleship moment. Pay attention to people who feel disappointed and help redeem it and celebrate the risks that they took.
- Avoid Death by Debrief. Here are the top 4 most common mistakes that lead to boring debriefs:
- Rehearsing what happened without paying attention to what God did or how people grew.
- Communicating verbally or non-verbally that talking about failure or missed expectations is not allowed.
- Leaving triumphalism ("we did it all and we're awesome!") or defeatism ("we were terrible and we should never do this again") left unchallenged.
- As the leader, trying to do all the talking without scripture or reflective prayer or listening prayer.