Monday, November 14, 2005

how do you measure success?

I'm sure that someone in the academic sphere has come up with something suitably full of elitest jargon with many syllables (look I studied Sociology at uni, I know how bad these things can get...) which explains how you can measure the success of an event, but as I have no desire to delve back into academia to find out I'll have to rely on good ol' commonsense and the university of life - experience - for an explanation instead.

Well to be fair in this particular instance I was bailed out from having to answer the question myself - even though Elizabeth said pretty much word for word what I was about to, the difference being coming from her it carried more weight!

The question was unsurprisingly enough after our feedback about WGYF - about it's enormous cost financially and environmentally (all those air miles). How can we measure the success of the event? What do we have to show for it? Did Friends worldwide get their money's worth? Will those of us who were were lucky enough to go repay our debt to the Society and society?

The answer I had, and Elizabeth voiced (yay for travelling Friends!), is look at the '85 event participants - then look at their contribution to Friends worldwide over the last 20 years. Sure WGYF can't take all the credit but from talking to several of those who were there I know that in their cases it can certainly take the bulk of it.

Reading the emails that have been circulating around since WGYF I can already see the difference it has made to many lives. Lifestyle decisions being made, commitment to Friends (at least one person has since become a member already), an openess to following leadings and go where the spirit guides them, to bringing more spiritual discipline into their lives (or at least thinking about how to try), to finding ways of living out the testimonies rather than just talking about them and to exploring our own individual spiritual journies in more depth. Even just watching the use of language of some people change within and since the event is a revalation in itself - the acceptance of certain words and phrases into people's vocabulary (including my own)as we began to understand the meaning behind the words rather than what we assumed was meant by them has been an indication of the success of the event. This is before I even get on to mention the experiments with unprogrammed worship within the programmed traditions and the increase in bible reading amongst those who didn't (and probably still don't) call ourselves Christians

We were never going to change the world in a few days - it will probably take years to be able to look back and see the fruits being borne and possibly we will never quite know how much can be directly attributed to WGYF. But was it a success? Ask me again in five years time, but I believe the answer will be a resounding 'yes!'

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