One of the most challenging aspects of doing production in a church setting is that church happens every week. During the week we have meetings, stuff to fix and install, TPS reports to file and a host of other things to get done. It’s pretty easy to drop into mechanical way of doing things. Sometimes, we do things because we’ve always done them that way. Other times, we do whatever we inherited from the guy before us.
Lately, we’ve been having a lot of conversations about intentionality. That is, exploring the why behind the what we do. It can be a bit of a rabbit hole to go down sometimes, but I think we do need to figure out why we do what we do.
Intentionality Brings Life
I read a story one time about some of the experiments the Nazis did on people in concentration camps. One was to have the prisoners move a pile of rocks from one end of the compound to the other. After they finished, the soldiers ordered the prisoners move the rocks back. Once finished, you guessed it, they had to move the rocks back. Moving rocks back and forth with no clear purpose drove more than a few prisoners mad.
Doing the same thing over and over again without any idea of why can feel a little like moving rocks back and forth. When we know why we are doing something, we are more engaged, more connected and energized by it. When we see a clear connection between production technology and the mission of the church, we don’t mind coming in early or staying late.
Intentionality Encourages our Teams
Everyone on our teams needs to know how their service connects to the big picture. Even things that seem mundane can be energizing when we know the why. Why do we lay out cables the way we do? Why do we set lights and program them the way we do? Why do we choose the backgrounds we do for the songs? These tasks can either be empowering or demotivating depending on the why.
Do we make sure our teams know why we do what we do? It’s easy to train someone how to do a job, but harder—and more important—to train them why. But here’s the good part; once they get the why, they will do a better job, and they will see how their work connects with everything else.
Intentionality Builds Trust
When you have a solid rationale for what you’re doing, and can explain how it connects with the big picture, leadership knows you’re not just doing stuff because it’s cool. And if someone complains, it’s easy to diffuse because you know why you’re doing it and you can explain it.
For example, we had someone call to complain about the volume of our services (which aren’t that loud…) a while back. We called her and explained why we run the services at the volume we do. We believe in keeping energy up and our style of music works better at higher volumes. We told her we track levels each week and are in no danger of causing hearing damage. We even suggested a few spots she could sit where it was less loud.
What began as an adversarial conversation turned around as she began to understand the why. She came over to our side once she new we weren't just rock 'n roll junkies who liked things crankin' loud.
The conversation would have gone quite different if all we could say was, “Well, uh, we just like it loud. Sorry…”
Think It Through
I had a professor in college who said that to us often, “Think it through.” I think in many ways that phrase has informed the way I approach production. As much as possible, I like to know why I’m doing what I’m doing, and I like to do it with intentionality.
In the next few days we’ll explore how that plays out in practical terms. While it is impossible to cover everything we do, I’ll tackle a few key things that will get you thinking. After that, the rest is up to you!
Next up: Intentional Board Layout
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OK. So it seems there have been some issues with the posts. I know because I’ve been deluged lately with emails, tweets and comments on those issues. Apparently, this has caused some confusion, and for that I apologize. Andy Stanley once said that it’s unfair to hold people to expectations you have never verbalized, so I guess I can take responsibility for the confusion. Hopefully, this post will help clear things up.
Van Metschke, my good friend, fellow TD and partner in many things CTA, has been writing a blog called The Soundbooth for a long, long time. Seven or eight years, in fact. After a few year hiatus, he’s decided to move things over here to CTA and post weekly on this site. In fact, if you allow your eyes to drift up toward the top of this page, you’ll see a menu bar with The Soundbooth as one of the options. Clicking on that link will (unsurprisingly) take you to Van’s posts. He posts there on Thursdays. That’s pretty much his page. His articles live right there on that page. So if you’re looking for an article from Van, that’s where you go. TheSoundbooth.com will also take you to that page. DNS; it’s a wonderful thing.
As a side note, you might notice that on the main page, the short, “teaser” version of the post might say Mike Sessler at the top. That’s because I’ve been writing this blog for 7 years by myself and haven’t gotten used to indicating a different author. We’ll try to fix that for the future posts. But remember the rule; if the post title starts of with The Soundbooth: it’s written by Van. Clear as mud?
You may have noticed that some of the posts that appear on the main CTA page are truncated. There are two types of truncated posts we post there. The first is for ChurchTechWeekly posts. The second is for The Soundbooth posts. You can tell ChurchTech Weekly posts because they are titled, ChurchTechWeekly Episode XXX: … You can also spot The Soundbooth posts because they will be titled The Soundbooth:… Pretty clever, right?
The reason they are truncated is because I try to keep the main page very clean and have full posts for the main content. However, in order to make sure CTW episodes and The Soundbooth posts show up in the emails and on the RSS feed, I post a truncated version of them on the main page.
Personally, I don’t like websites that post truncated versions of every post, making you click more every time. It’s great for page views, not so great for readers. That’s why I only do it for those two, special classes of posts (that have their own pages anyway). Make sense?
Finally, we’ve had some issues with broken More… links. I believe today I figured out what the problem is. It’s been a tough one to solve because we typically queue up our posts a few weeks out (Van already has the next month of posts written and scheduled), and we can’t test the link when we schedule the short version for the main page.
Well, technically that’s not entirely true. I could test the link if I used the internal linking structure. However, I use a fully qualified link so that you can click on it from the email or RSS feed (that’s the point, remember?), and since the target post doesn’t yet exist, we don’t know for sure if the link will work.
Like I said, today, I think I figured out what has been breaking the links. The solution is pretty easy to implement (if this is what it is), so here’s hoping we have this licked. However, on the chance that we don’t, I should point out that we have a pretty wonderful search engine on this site. It’s right over there on the right, just above the sponsor graphics. And if you were to say, copy and paste the title of the post you want to read into said search engine, it will in all likelihood, take you right to that post. Search is cool like that.
Why So Many Problems?
I can hear frustration in the voices of those who email, tweet and comment about all the problems. And here’s the deal. We’re not a big online publishing empire. I work on this website in my spare time on evenings and weekends (my weekends being Monday & Tuesday). I have a full-time job as a TD, and I have two girls; one in college, one in high school. I devote as much time as I can to this site, and spend many hours a week answering reader emails, writing posts, producing a podcast and working on the occasional video. I also write for three other magazines.
I say all that not so you’ll feel bad for me—I do this because I enjoy it—but rather to point out that I don’t spend all my time checking, double-checking and fixing issues. I work hard to make sure posts work the way they should, but sometimes I’m in a hurry to get to something else (like my job) and I miss something. For that I apologize. We’re just doing our best here.
If you can’t find a post because a link is broken, slow down, take a deep breath and go to the site. Chances are, it’s right on the first page. If not, use the search box, I’m sure it will come right up. You’re tech guys, you can figure this out. It’s what we do.
Alright. That ends this informational rant. Hopefully I didn’t offend too many people. Thanks for reading; back to our regularly scheduled post on church tech next week. Have a great weekend!
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True or false? “The sound system and sound people in your church is the same as in mine.”
The answer to this question seems so obvious, but the sound system in each church was designed, purchased, and installed using very deferent criteria, one from another and most sound people have learned most of their audio knowledge with the sound system they work with every week. If this system is not properly set up from the start the operator’s ability to provide good sound is immediately compromised.