CPx: The Debrief

Our first week at CPx was filled with lots of ground work to set up the coming days, weeks and months. One of the first things we did was talk debriefing. Debriefing is the act of coming together as a group (or personally if you are the journalling type) and actively talking about something (it could be anything) that you walked through. Some might call it an art form as it involves mulling over the events and their associated thoughts and emotions to connect them in such a way that you grow and learn from the experience.

It’s something I’ve actively done on mission trips in the past but haven’t been as adept at applying it more generally. It does have application though and can be a great tool to process life and everything within it. It also does have a Biblical basis; the narrative underlying the first portion of Luke 10 is just one example of this. In it, Jesus sends 72 disciples out in pairs to visit villages, find people of peace and bring the Kingdom of heaven to their doorsteps. He then also calls them back to Himself and has them report on what they saw and felt. In any case, I think debriefing is a practical tool to help process through whatever life throws at a person.

We were taught two different models: the BASIC model and the AI model.

The BASIC model, as the name implies, is pretty straightforward (not that the AI method isn’t). It involves asking yourself and others 4 simple questions:

What did you see happen? What did you feel? What did you learn? What is God saying in the midst of this event? As I said, there isn’t much to it. The AI method, I think, is a bit more nuanced and attempts to more directly connect past or current behavior and thoughts with what you’ll do in the future.

AI stands for Appreciative Inquiry. The AI method attempts to put the focus specifically on what God is doing rather than on what our enemy has done or might be trying to do. In this way it actively seeks to map the movement of God rather than the movement of the devil (generally speaking, it is always healthier and better to map God rather than the devil). It too consists of 4 similar questions.

What made your heart come alive (or phrased differently, what was most life giving or energizing)? Why is it like that? What would you change about your experience or what do you wish would have happened? What are you going to do next time? The first question seeks to get at the heart of the experience, connecting your passions with what actually happened, regardless of how loose those connections might be. It gets you talking and thinking and feeling the experience in such a way that perhaps connections you didn’t originally see become visible. For example, I am going to consider this question in the light of what I saw and felt upon first seeing extreme poverty several years ago. At that time I had no clue how to process what I was seeing and I (unfortunately) locked those thoughts and feelings away for a good long while where they just festered. Had I been actively looking for what made my heart alive in that circumstance — praying for the TB patients, providing running water to a family without it, seeing the joy in a child’s eyes as he learned to walk — I could have begun to process the passions in my own heart and come up with something of a response. Alas, hindsight is always 20/20 and doesn’t really matter that much now — the processing eventually got done.

The second question gets at the specific values behind the experiences brought up by question one. It places those experiences in the broader context of our life and God’s design.

The third and fourth questions are similar and begin to connect the experience and value to growth. The third question examines specifically what you wished would have happened and what you would change, if you had a chance to do it all over. The fourth actively presses you to think about the next time you might be faced with that or a similar situation and let what you learned mature your response.

So debriefing. I have this inkling of a suspicion that we are going to be doing a lot of this foreseeable future. But that’s OK. I think it’s supposed to be like that. After all, at some level it sounds an awful lot like what discipleship is supposed to be all about.

June 23, 2015


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