The Powder Keg
So much of what we do as church techs revolves around communication between those we work with and us. Clarity and alignment of the overall vision is key. Unfortunately, techs, pastors, musicians, and even attendees are often on different pages when it comes to what the purpose of any given service or event actually is. This can lead to frustration and even an eventual blow up or melt down—usually at a pivotal or inopportune moment.
Everyone on the programing side can usually agree on “the big picture”; bringing people to Christ, bringing them into a posture of corporate worship, etc. Much of the time, though, we can come to the table with different agendas and points of view. If leadership does not give a clear vision of what we are trying to accomplish, it’s up to each participant to figure it out on their own. That can lead to “too many cooks in the kitchen”.
We often hear Proverbs 28:18 (KJV) “Where there is no vision, the people perish” used in leadership books. “Perish” is such a big word, so its meaning can get lost when we try to apply it practically. Other translations may make it a bit clearer:
“Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint.” (ASV)
“Without a vision, is a people made naked.” (YLT)
Now I know that there are some of you freaking out (or at least concerned) about using these verses to talk about tech in a church service. But stay with me here. I know that this is not what the writer was talking about. That being said, I believe the principle is sound for this application. I like the various translations because they give us an opportunity to talk about the situations that all too often lead to misunderstanding between the techs and others involved in our live events.
Being people who “cast off restraint”
Techs like restraint. We like guardrails. We love the order of things. Whether it is an Excel run sheet, a script, or Planning Center Online, we love seeing it all written out. Having someone in the booth or back stage calling the “show” on COM is even better.
And of course we must rehearse. (An actual rehearsal would be the best, not just an extended sound check.) Sure, most of us can fly by the seat of our pants, but we would rather know what’s happening before hand.
If we do not have a unified vision or plan that is on the same page as everyone up the leadership chain, we will tend to default to our own reasons for doing what we do—especially when we are taking it as it comes. Thus we can easily make decisions that may seem good to us in the moment, but are not in alignment with the overall vision. This can and will cause derision and contempt. It makes those in charge wonder if the techs have their back and causes the techs to wonder if the leadership has any clue what they are doing.
It also makes volunteers feel like they are just there to fill a seat or push a button. Knowing the big picture, why we do it, and what we are doing, in advance, will focus volunteers to do their best. This in turn will give confidence to those in charge that our teams know what they are doing.
Feeling like “a people made naked”
Not knowing the vision and not knowing the plan can make those running the show feel naked, vulnerable, or just plain exposed. This is disheartening for the pro and most certainly debilitating for the average volunteer. This will almost always have an unintended chain reaction that will cause those on stage or about to be on stage feel just as naked at those in the tech booth.
Living and working in a situation where the vision is unclear ultimately leads to frustration and burnout. Techs start to grumble and volunteers start to leave. It’s hard to pull off a great service or event if those who are a part of it hold issues with each other that stay unresolved.
No matter how a team gets to this place, I believe it can be remedied if the leadership fosters a culture of communication. You can have vision, but if you don’t communicate it, at every opportunity, no one will implement it. Leaders must communicate their vision over and over and over and over again.
Isaiah 28:10 says, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” (KJV) Everyone must be clear on the vision—not only the big picture, but in every process and procedure. It has to be talked about so much that everyone can state it when asked. It needs to be talked about so much that most people will actually be tired of hearing it. At that point, they will know it, live it, and most importantly, do it. We, as leaders, are responsible to know the vision and spread it about. If you don’t know or are unclear what the vision is, ask. If there is no vision, start the conversation.
If you are in this situation, don’t let it go any further. Talk to your leadership and get clarity. Do it with love and respect, but do it. This can be fixed, but it may start with you.