Hello Network friends,
We have completed compiling and analyzing the evaluations from Extravaganza 2022, held in early February in Minneapolis and online.
First, I want to thank all of you who took the time to fill out an evaluation form. We had an good rate of return on these evaluations. In 2022, there were a total of 948 Extravaganza participants, both in person and online. If you exclude last year’s all online event, then 2022 had the 2nd highest total number of participants in the history of the event, second only to 2015’s event in Detroit.
And 315 of you filled out the event evaluation forms. That’s a 33.5% return rate, which is a great return rate. That percentage, by itself, tells us that our people care about this event and care about making sure it is the best it can possibly be.
And we had a ton of responses. The total “full report” is 56 pages long (single-spaced with 10 point font). That’s is an amazing amount of data to look through.
The Extravaganza planning team takes all of this feedback very seriously. We read every piece of information and every comment. We all feel a great responsibility to steward this event, and the resources of time and money that you invest in it, well. Thank you for trusting us!
We collect some interesting demographic data as a part of this evaluation.
- We learned that approximately 62% of participants in the Extravaganza have 10 years or more of experience in ministry. That is a higher percentage than we had anticipated, and certainly this has implications for our planning. It also makes us ask the question “what can we do to encourage more people who have less experience to participate? Because clearly, the experienced people understand the value of gathering together. But it is those with less experience who probably really need to be together, to learn and to find avenues of support.
- We also learned that for 32% of those who participated, this was their first Extravaganza. It makes us ask if we are doing enough to welcome and orient these people to the community. (We don’t know that we’re not…but it is a question that we have to keep asking ourselves.)
We asked our participants how they felt as they left the Extravaganza. The results were really interesting.
We are glad that such a high percentage are coming away from ext22 inspired, networked, hopeful , renewed and resourced. We want to do an even better job in upcoming years “equipping” our people for their ministry.
And overall, when asked if people would recommend the Extravaganza to a friend, (a question to which we pay a lot of attention), the average score was 8.89 out of a possible 10. That is a wonderfully high score.
We asked our participants to evaluate the general sessions, and we left space for people to make comments. While there were pages and pages of individual comments, there were some themes that emerged as we walked through the full report:
- Some folks felt like the general sessions were “disjointed” and didn’t link together as well as they have in the past. We get this. Partially we think that this was because we took some programmatic risks and changed some of the general sessions. We did one that was completely a Taize worship. Another session was given over to the Blanket exercise (which had an overwhelmingly positive response.) So this feedback doesn’t surprise us.
- Some folks were also disappointed that they didn’t know that the blanket exercise had to start right on time and that the doors would be closed and admittance not allowed after the exercise started. We understand this frustration, and we apologize. That could have been communicated better.
- Some liked the faster pace with shorter speakers. Others felt like this contributed to a disjointed sense.
- Some people really appreciated that themes of race, diversity and equity were a subtext through the general sessions. Others felt like it was too heavy handed, or that it brought about a sense of guilt or shame. I hear and understand these concerns.
I also know that for many, many years, our BIPOC siblings have sat on the outside of the programs and ministries of the greater church, looking in. One of our goals this year was to create safe space for all, including those who have not felt as included in the Network as we hope. And we know that the only way to affect change is to change. We can no longer as a church continue to do what we do, and expect a different, more just outcome. So we tried some things. And we know that these things made some people feel a bit uncomfortable. And I’ll be honest: I’m ok with people feeling some discomfort. I don’t apologize for it. The Gospel is not meant to keep us comfortable. My word of encouragement is that instead of reacting to the discomfort by becoming defensive or stepping away, choose to sit with the discomfort. Wonder. Question. Think. Pray. Listen. Learn. Let this discomfort teach us.
Fundamentally, the Extravaganza is about helping people in their congregational ministry. But sometimes the help I need is not the help I am aware of. I am hopeful that this year’s Extravaganza may have opened some new doors for you to walk through, and new things to learn. These things can help you as you walk with your young people through new doors as well.
- People appreciated the tracks and the practical nature of them. There were some glitches with technology that we had to overcome. But these were small in the scheme of things.
- The Network app was a love it/hate it experience. Having the information accessible was important and helpful. But some thought that navigating it was too complicated. We will continue to work on that.
- Some people were frustrated because there was not a public code to access the meeting wifi. We understand that frustration, but there was a reason for this. This was the Extravaganza’s first attempt at being a completely “hybrid” experience. We knew coming in to the event that the Hilton’s wifi was not as strong as we would like. And we were concerned that the tracks, workshops and general sessions would have adequate bandwidth to stream. So we chose to not make the meeting wifi public.
And we know that for many, using their cellular networks was an easy alternative. (In fact, the hotel tells us that at most of the conferences they host, only 10-20% or participants make use of the “house wifi” signal. The rest use their cell signal.) So we figured that this was a change we could make for the better of the event with minimal inconvenience for participants. We will continue to evaluate this moving forward.
- The last data-related question we asked was also one to which we pay a lot of attention:
82% of participants have said that they will be participating in 2023 either in person or online. And (this is the part that made me go back and double…and then triple check the results) no one said there was no chance they would participate.
This was the 26th annual Extravaganza, and we have asked this question every single year. And we have never had no one say they weren’t going to participate next year. Never. This blew us away. Thanks be to God.
My last two words are words of gratitude.
First, thank you to the Extravaganza planning team, who did an amazing job putting together this event. The work you all do is important and there is a whole church that is grateful to you today for your hours and hours of planning, scheming and working to make Extravaganza happen.
Second, thanks to all who participated in Extravaganza 2022, either onsite or online. You took the time out of your schedule, you spent continuing ed funds (or in some cases your own money) and you put your trust in the Network and this event to strengthen your ministry and your congregation. I always say that the Extravaganza is not an event, it is a community. Thank you for being a part of this community. We are better, because of you.
Extravaganza 2023 is coming! More information is at ext23.org. I hope that you will be a part of it!