I have a confession to make; I have seen the “Nick Burns” of Church Tech on many occasions lurking in my church. He is real!
If you aren’t familiar with this legend, Nick Burns is a mythical character on “Saturday Night Live” played with spot-on indignation by Jimmy Fallon. Nick is the stereotypical IT guy that lords his skill and superior knowledge of all things nerdy (yes, I said it) over his co-workers who he sees as utterly ignorant. The SNL skit typically begins with frustrated office workers talking about all their computer issues. Someone will reluctantly, for fear of Nick’s wrath, make the call for help. Nick soon shows up, moving from desk to desk, fixing problems while berating the office workers with his signature quip, “There! Was that so hard?”
I must admit there have been many occasions in my time as a Church Tech and Tech Director when I have seen “Nick” fix a problem for someone and followed it up with some version of, “There! Was that so hard?” Making my co-workers feel both stupid and intimidated. The attitude and actions during the encounter said volumes: “You are stupid”, “I can’t believe I have to put up with such incompetence”, and “it’s so easy, a trained monkey could do this”. So, yes, I have seen this infamous creature. The sad truth is; I am the “Nick Burns” of Church Tech! (And maybe you are as well.)
Let’s face it, whether paid or not, we have to know a lot. Audio, video, lighting, and for some of us IT is not as easy as 1-2-3 and most of us who get into tech in church already have a bent toward technical based knowledge. We like to figure out how it works – to tear it apart and put it back together. We love accumulating knowledge about, well, everything tech. The more complicated, the better. The more numbers or crazy acronyms in the name, the more we love it. Flux-Capacitors are our stock and trade. As we accumulate this treasure-trove of knowledge we tend to forget some very important things:
It took time to learn all that we have learned.
We didn’t know what “all those knobs do” at the beginning. This took many years of education. Most of us learned on the job – making mistakes and asking what we may see now as “dumb” questions. Once, we were the ones intimidated by ancient techs who passed down the scrolls of knowledge to us. (Hopefully those scrolls were the true knowledge and not mumbo-jumbo. Be careful whom you listen to.)
We are the few, the proud, the nerds.
Most people don’t really care what all those knobs do. They just want to know that someone does. We live in a technologically advanced society. But while the average person wants to “use” technology, they don’t really care “how” it works. I think that even applies to us as techs. I don’t really give a whole lot of thought to how my refrigerator keeps the food cool, I am just glad it does. To the layperson, the tech we use in church is much the same way. They may think the contribution the Tech Team brings to a service is amazing; most don’t care exactly how we do it.
It’s what we do!
Tech is what we do. It is, hopefully, what we have been called to. It’s our duty to take care of all things technical. We don’t want to be musicians (although some of us are), nor public speakers – getting up on stage behind the pulpit and giving the sermon. We don’t want to be the parking lot workers or the kid’s workers or the ushers. We are techs, we do tech related things, and others see us in that role. They look to us to “fix it” and to “make it better”. And, if we are honest, we like it that way. It makes us feel good. It makes us feel fulfilled.
When I see one of the SNL skits with Nick, while it may make me laugh, it also makes me feel a little guilty. And it should. I don’t want people to see me in this light. When I delve into the reasons behind this behavior, it looks a bit ugly. If I’m looking for power or to feel superior, I need to take a step back and see this as sin – plain and simple.
So can we eradicate the church tech world of this Yeti-like monster? Yes, but it has to be an intentional change of heart, attitude, and action.
Realize who I am in Christ.
As a church tech, we are specifically called to this mission and ministry in the church. One of my favorite verses is Exodus 31:6b “…and I have also given skills to those who will help them make everything exactly as I have commanded you” (CEV). We use this as our team verse at South Hills. I believe that God has given special talent and called up that talent to serve His church in the community and the world. Since it is our calling we need to approach it in a Christ-like manner, and condescension is not a fruit of the Spirit.
We serve the church as unto the Lord.
Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people.” (ISV) At the end of the day we must always remember, in our positions as techs in the church we are servants of God. God has put these people in our care. And He expects us to care for them as He would.
Our expertise is valuable but our attitude is priceless.
While what we know and the services we provide are important, how we act as we go about it is what really counts. Hebrews 12:14 “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (NIV) Remember the great commission; Matthew 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (NIV) and the great commandment; Matthew 22:37-39 “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (NIV) You will notice that nowhere in there is, “Do awesome at tech”. The big two must remain in our minds at all times.
We must strive to be shining examples as servants in the church – demonstrating all the facets of the “Fruit of the Spirit” as we serve the church with excellence. Don’t be discouraged. Even those of us who have been doing this for many years still struggle with it. But we must never stop pressing toward the mark.
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (NIV)
Let’s do everything we can this week to dispel the “Nick Burns” or Sasquatch myth about church techs. It’s up to us.