I was chatting with a creative tech guy last night, and I love what he said. I asked him what he did in the creative tech department. He answered with this: “I do a little bit of everything.”

Why did I love that so much? It spoke volumes to me. He wasn’t saying he was a lighting guy. Not a sound guy. Not a camera operator or director. He was a creative tech. And the whole department was his to explore and embrace.

His identity was less about a job title, and more about serving. He wasn’t concerned with his particular role.

I believe we do a disservice to creatives when we label them. Sure, a label can tell you what you’re supposed to do. But a label, too often, speaks more about what we aren’t supposed to do. Labels can very quickly breed these sorts of comments:

  • That’s not my job.
  • I don’t know how to do that.
  • You should talk to…

I believe strongly in specializing and becoming excellent at what you do. But your gifts in a certain area should never keep you from feeling ownership in the whole area. It should never keep you from stepping outside of your comfort zone and engaging in a bit of collaboration.

I dream of creatives that learn from each other and collaborate together.

I dream of creatives that learn from each other and collaborate together.

Imagine a lighting programmer approaching the sound engineer – all in the name of collaboration. Imagine them learning from each other and even speaking into each others’ Sunday roles.

Lighting guy: Man, I love the way you run sound. I have an idea for a lighting cue that would go to the next level if you threw some delay on the lead vocalist at this point in the song. What do you think?
Sound engineer: That would be incredible! Let’s bring our video director in on this one! Let him know what’s going on and see if he has any ideas.
Video director: Excellent. What if you did it this way so I wouldn’t completely be in the dark at this moment. Actually, let’s bring the worship leader in on this too…

I’m sure there might be a bit more dark humor and potentially vulgar language in this exchange…but you get the idea. One guy decided to step outside of his role and turned a good lighting moment into a great lighting moment…and a potentially even greater worship moment. Collaboration.

You see, great tech and creativity doesn’t happen in those segmented plates you have at picnics. Instead it happens when the peas touch the gravy, which touches the meat, which touches the mashed potatoes, which touches the salad. The Church functions best when it’s a messy picnic instead of a sterile hospital.

So how should we approach getting our picnic plates a bit messier in the tech team? Here are a few ideas:

1. Show interest in other team members’ roles.
Ask them what they actually do. They might do more than you realize and you might find unexpected opportunities for collaboration.

Treat your teammates with the same respect you’d desire.
2. Respect your teammates.
Treat your teammates with the same respect you’d desire. It can be threatening at first when someone comes into your “tech zone” if you aren’t used to it. Approach humbly and positively.

3. Don’t just talk about tech on Sunday mornings.
Relationship is the quickest way to open up the opportunities for collaboration. And relationships don’t develop when we only “talk shop” with our teammates. Talk about family, friends, hobbies, sports…anything. But take it outside of Sunday mornings and into their weekly lives.

4. Don’t just volunteer in the tech booth.
Volunteer to usher or greet on a Sunday you have off. Offer to put up signs or wander around the property picking up trash. As you step outside your clearly defined role and start thinking in terms of the big picture, people see that. People respect that. They’ll be more open to input. Plus, you’ll start seeing things you might need to adjust in how you run your role on Sunday mornings.

5. Visit other churches/conferences/concerts together.
Take the team to an experience outside your church walls. Be in the audience and observe what’s going on. Then discuss it after the event. Listen carefully to the different things each team member noticed. Listening and engaging in their unique perspective and insights will help pave the way  for stronger collaboration among the team.

Technology is an amazing tool for creativity. I encourage you to infuse great creativity in everything you do. Don’t segment your tech department into neat and tidy Ziploc baggies. That’s how you suffocate creativity. Let creativity breathe.