Reflections on Evaluation

This past weekend, the Extravaganza team leaders met at the Hyatt in Anaheim, site of the 2013 Extravaganza, to process the

A General Session at E12

evaluations from the New Orleans event, and to do the organizational planning for ’13.

We spent quite a bit of time processing the evaluations, and I just wanted to share a couple of observations about your thoughts.

  • My first observation is that the overall rating of the event was an 8.56/10.  That’s a great number, and I think it reflects the good, hard work of the E-Team, and also the great community that gathers there.
  • My second observation relates to the sense of being kind of overwhelmed at the response.  This year’s Extravaganza evaluation process yielded a 48% return rate.  We had 307 total evaluations returned.  And the comments…wow…lots and lots of great comments. (I know because we read every one of them!)  Just as a point of reference, when the evaluations were compiled into a single report, and the comments were added (in 8pt. type, font = Ariel) the report totaled 49 pages long.

    What does this tell us?  People really care about this event and about the Network.  It is important to people.  They are invested. And for that, we are very, very grateful

    People come from very different places and experiences, and have different needs that manifest themselves in the evaluation.  Here’s what we heard:

    1.  People loved the worship style.  And, people didn’t connect with the worship style.
    2. People thought the schedule was too packed.  And, people thought the schedule was too loose.
    3. People thought the hotel was great.  And, people didn’t like the hotel.
    4. People connected with the theme.  And, people didn’t connect with the theme.

    Sometimes, I’d be looking at the evaluations and I’d wonder to myself  “were these people at the same event?”  Of course, they weren’t.  They were at their event.  And because everyone comes from a different ‘place’, every evaluation is going to be different.

  • People had mixed feelings about the cost.   What we found was that people thought that the Extravaganza itself is a good deal, and they appreciate the team’s efforts at saving money and keeping costs low.  The question of “was the event worth the money” scored an 8.59 out of 10.  Actually, a higher score than the overall event rating.  This tells us that generally people were satisfied.  At the same time, the cost of the hotel is high.  We knew going in this year’s event that the hotel costs would be a bit higher than normal.  We were committed to being in the city of the Gathering because our members have told us that this is of high value to them.  But to make that happen, we know that some of the associated costs will pop a bit.  We also know that our costs next year in ’13 are lower than they were in ’12.

    Interestingly, some folks questioned some of the specific event expenses.   They wondered if we really needed to pay for a glossy program book, or if we needed all of that sound and lights in the ballroom.  Great questions.  Here’s the answers:  if we just printed small, simple program books, we would have to pay for all of those costs.  By printing glossy, professional program books, we can sell ads in them, which offset the cost, and make for a better looking product.  The reality is that our expenses and our income for the program books came pretty close to offsetting each other.

    Sound and lights are provided by Big Dog Sound, who we have worked with for years.  Basically, we rent sound and lights ‘by the truckload.’  Tom of Big Dog, who is a Network member and a youth minister at  Bethel Lutheran Church in Cupertino, California, gives us a great deal.  And it really doesn’t cost us extra to have the quality, professional “stuff” rather than a simple sound system and fluorescent lights.

    So there are reasons for why we do what we do.  That doesn’t mean that we’ll stop being good stewards of your membership and registration dollars.  We treat them as if they were our own.  And we are very careful on what we spend.

There’s much more…and we’re still processing it.  Lots were said about speakers, music, workshops, hospitality, and everything else that is a part of the event.  But let me say that we are grateful for your thoughts…all 49 pages of them.  And we will take them seriously.  If you have any other comments, please post them as a comment here, or e-mail me at   And we’ve got great stuff in the hopper for 2013 in Anaheim.  Watch for some exciting announcements for speakers in the next few weeks.

Thank you for being the Network!


  1. Todd, thanks for taking time to bring us along as the team evaluates and makes plans for next year. I wasn’t able to be with everyone this year, but plan to join you in CA next year. I’ve attended the E for many years, and find it to be one of the best values for dollars spent of any gathering I attend. And those of you who know me, know that I attend a ton of them. While no gathering can meet all my needs, anymore than it can meet all the needs of anyone else, I believe that the mix of worship, community, education, and relaxation can’t be beat. Keep up the great work.


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