One of the challenges in ministry is that there’s always another sermon to prepare, an event to plan, or a project to initiate.

When everyone feels the pressure to hurry up and move on to the next significant effort, it’s difficult to get people to gather lessons learned from the last project. Unfortunately, when we don’t reflect on what we’ve learned we tend to repeat the same mistakes.

“I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw” — Proverbs 24:32

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — George Santayana

Additionally, even when a church staff conducts a session to discuss and document what they learned from an event or project, that effort is in vain if they don’t use that information going forward. Here a few tips for how to leverage the lessons you learn from each project to make the next one even better:

Tip No. 1: Save Lessons Learned in a Central Location

Save meeting notes from a lessons learned session in an online folder and give access to all staff and volunteer leaders. This might be in a Google Drive folder or within the project management tool the church uses (such as Asana, Basecamp, or Trello). Whatever location you choose, make sure staff and volunteers know where it’s at so they can check it out often.

Tip No. 2: Review Lessons Learned in Staff Meetings

Most church staff meet at least monthly, if not weekly. Pull highlights from the recent lessons learned sessions and discuss them at the next staff meeting. Address both things that went well and where improvement is needed.

Ask how this information could apply to daily operations as well as to the next project. This ensures those who weren’t involved in the last event get the chance to hear this information and gives them a chance to offer their input as well. Another benefit of discussing this in a staff meeting is it emphasizes the importance of learning from each project.

Tip No. 3: Discuss Lessons Learned at a Kick-Off Meeting

As you’re planning the next project kick-off meeting, scan through the lessons learned notes from a similar project or event. If you hosted this event last year, review those notes in detail.

Identify the items applicable to this upcoming effort and discuss those during the first planning session. This will help prevent repeating old mistakes while leveraging ideas for improvement.

Investing the time to document lessons learned and using that information for future efforts is vital to seeing improvements, saving money, and reducing wasted time.