Reflection for Friday Night MBF 2003 Session 1

This blog entry is the continuation of the previous entry on a seminar Vivian and I did for MBF.

This is the last event of our new "MBF on Friday" series of seminars for this session, and at the end of yesterday's event, we gave out some feedback forms for people to fill out. We want to know what they think about each of the talk/seminar/event, how we can improve the topics, and how we can improve the general running.

At the same time, I think it is also a good time for me and Vivian to think about the strategy as well - whether our time has been spent effectively in preparing for these Friday night events, and how we can use these events strategically to reach out other Mandarin speaking students/young workers around the campus. I shall talk about some of the reflections for myself.

First of all, I don't think I have prepared enough for the talks. We spent fair amount of time working through the materials and writing them down, but somehow I felt lack of time for me to actually practise what I supposed to say. I am not an aspirational speaker, and I do need a lot of time to rationalise what's in my mind into what's on my lips. Moreover, I was preparing my notes in English, with tiny bits of translated Chinese here and there. It is especially hard when I need to do the translation on the fly - at least I stumbled quite a few times when my mind got stuck with certain words. At the end of the day, I really need to put more time preparing for the presentation instead of just the materials. I am an engineer by trade, and these things aren't that automatic to me.

Secondly, as I've said previously, I am not an aspirational speaker. Actually, I am far off from a good speaker. I am still struggling with my speech problem. When I tried to chain up a lot of sentences together with some twist of logic, my voice starts to mumble and people cannot recognise what I was talking about. Unfortunately it happens in both Mandarin and English. "Speaking" is a skill that I have became rusty with as there is lack of practise everyday. Actually, I have never felt talented in speaking publicly, but somehow I am compelled to do so every now and then. I am more a typist than a vocalist. Sigh. Most of the time I am doubting my ministry ability because of my lack of oral skill, and a few methods I've tried yet there's minimal improvement...

Thirdly, I would like to think about the effective usage of time in preparing for the seminar. Throughout the session, I have to take two Fridays off from work to prepare for the seminars, and for yesterday, Vivian also needed to take her day off from work (actually she has to substitute next Wednesday for it) to finish off the case studies that we needed to use yesterday. But at the end, we only spent about 10 minutes on one out of 4 cases, and yet the effect was not achieved. So I am wondering whether spending so much time organising and preparing is "effective" - we could have used our week nights calling up people instead of banging on the keyboard! As for next session, I would like to know whether we can provide the same amount (if it can be quantified) of edification and encouragement to our Friday night group, and yet we can still spare time to do other "must do"'s.

Well. That is for myself to think about.

Originally, we have suggested the Friday night as a training ground for those who are keen in ministry. The leaders are giving talks and seminars, which might take 40 minutes to an hour, and then the students can do MC, song leading and other programs. Well, that was the idea at the beginning of the session, and it did not turn out to be that way. Now the speaker of the day will do a 90 minutes talk or seminar. We sing 3 songs, and then the leaders will do the announcement + pray at the end. I feel that it is becoming more like a 'show' for the students, instead of something that we can work together. During the session, we have Grace who led the singing every now and then but that's about all I can remember about the participation...

And I think it is our fault. Yes, the leaders of MBF are responsible for this. First of all, is the 90 minutes seminar too long? It is definitely too long comparing to projected 40-60 minutes at the start of the session. I think it expands to that long because we want to cover all the basis - the talks and seminars are usually jam-packed. But then we need to think about whether it is necessary to have that much material in one single seminar. In fact, I think we might be able to do multiple weeks on the same topic, so that we can get a more detailed view on a smaller topic! At least it applies to yesterday's Godly conversation seminar. If the talk/seminar can be shortened to 40-60 minutes, that will give us 30-50 minutes more spare time to do something else. For example, we can finish the night earlier so people can have longer "fellowship time" over supper. Or the students can organise other programs like interview, testimony, short skits, etc. I think that would be a better model.

And the students need to be asked. Chinese have their special way of humility and politeness - they don't usually actively seek opportunity, and when a task is given, they will be politely refuted. Therefore it is up to us to encourage and give positive feedbacks on various things they have done. But we usually just spent too much time working out our material for the night and forgot all these details (at least for me anyway).

The Friday night has sometimes driven me crazy, has it certainly makes this year very stressful. In some sense we might have provided more opportunities to reach out to those who usually cannot come on Sundays. Some sense of success? But somehow I felt there is something missing in the recipe. There will be more meetings on this before session 2 starts, and I hope my problems and concerns can be resolved.