The purpose of a church Production Team is to transparently amplify God’s Word. The worship leaders and teaching pastors are all speaking God’s Word to the audience. The Production Team exists to amplify those words. Using technology, we want to draw the audience into worship, into the message; we want them to not just hear God’s Word – we want to help them experience God.
However, if at any point the audience loses focus on God and is paying more attention to the technology itself (because of some glitch, mistake or even using production techniques that do not have the right “feel” for a particular moment in a service), then we have failed to meet our objective. This may sound harsh or melodramatic, but we are attempting to reach a culture that is used to getting their information in quick bursts of catchy sound bites and 15 second videos on most social media platforms. If there is a technical glitch during a national newscast, it is a statistical reality that a large percentage of the audience will change channels in search of a more polished delivery of the same information.
Pick your favorite live (or live to tape) TV show (one of the evening news shows, Jimmy Fallon, The Voice, etc.). Which of the following events is most common during the broadcast?
A) The host’s microphone being muted while the host is talking
B) The camera pointing in one direction while the host is somewhere else
C) The host is standing in the dark while speaking to the audience.
D) The host is talking about one subject while the supporting graphics describe an altogether different topic.
The instance of any one of the events is an extreme anomaly. Why? Because of the high degree of preparation and the intense focus, each production member has on their assigned tasks.
These are not new concepts by any means, but in the church, they have a tendency to fall by the wayside. In response to a mistake or poor technical performance, how many times have you heard (or said) something like, “It’s no big deal; it’s just church,” or, “It’s good enough for church”. Yet God has called us to excellence!
“Servants… don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best… Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.” Colossians 3:23-24 (The Message)
Make It Happen
So how do we, as a production team, become excellent at being “transparent”?
Become an expert. If you don’t know the purpose of a button, knob or piece of equipment, then read the manual (or ask a team member to train you). Subscribe to magazines and frequent websites related to the area where you are volunteering. Do everything you can to learn everything you can.
There is simply no substitute for hands-on experience. Do everything you can to get as much hands-on experience as possible with the gear you will be operating during a service. Always attend scheduled practices so you can work with your gear in a live situation. As mistakes happen in practice, you will gain the confidence that only comes with experience that will allow you to have smooth performance during the weekend services.
“An amateur practices something until they get it right. A professional will practice something until they cannot get it wrong.”
~Kenneth van Barthold, (1927-2016)
Pianist, teacher and co-author of The Story of the Piano
- Be Punctual
Every production event has (or should have) a “Call Time”. This is always a bit before the event is scheduled to start and it allows the team to get the gear set-up, fix any problems and go over the game plan for the event. It is during this time that the team set up their equipment, troubleshoot and fix any problems, talk through the service order so everyone understands the transitions and each element of the service.
- Pay Attention
During the event, live in the moment and focus on the immediate tasks at hand, but keep an eye on what is just around the corner. A live event is like surfing. Surfers study a particular beach to understand how the waves break and the tide ebbs and flows. When the moment is right, the surfer will swim out and grab a wave. Surfers know the direction that wave is going and how it is going to break, but they are constantly making minor adjustments as the wave progresses. They are living in that moment, that very second, as they are flying down the face of the wave. They are feeling every ripple on the water as their board skims over the water. At the same time, they are keeping an eye on the shore to give them perspective. They also know the location of any coral reefs or sandbars, so while in that moment they can instinctively make any adjustments to correct their course and avoid disaster. As member of the production team, our focus needs to be razor sharp so that we can be flexible in the execution of our tasks as the individual cues during an event ebb and flow.
We cannot forget that we are fighting against an enemy that does not want us to succeed. Keep the entire team in prayer. Not just for a particular event or venue (although that is very important). But consider your team members throughout the week. What are their needs? How can you help them? How can you lift them up in prayer? How can the team pray for you?
Foundations of Excellence
Once we as team members begin to implement these steps, we will begin to see our productions not only achieve a broadcast quality, we will see lives changed through the transparent amplification of God’s Word.