One of my favorite movies is Men in Black. The original one. It’s a great mix of humor, suspense and some hilariously outrageous tech. In many ways, I find myself identifying with Agents J and K; and not just because we are all most often seen wearing black. In many ways, the tech team are the men (and women) in black of our churches.
We work in the background, mostly in obscurity, making things happen‚ protecting the universe, if you will‚ and no one even knows. At least if we’re doing our job right.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie comes when K discharges his first weapon, the Noisy Cricket for the first time. After incinerating a semi and freighting a city block, he is sternly reprimanded by J. K Fires back that they are under attack and the people need to be warned. What J says next so often describes the life of a church tech:
“There’s always a alien battle cruiser or a Cirilian Death Ray or an intergalactic plague that’s about to wipe out life on this miserable little planet. The only way these people get on with their happy lives is that they do not know about it.”
Now granted, we are not typically defending our churches against an alien battle cruiser. Yet no one in your church—in the congregation or leadership—is ever likely to know that you were there an hour early one Sunday to troubleshoot a com issue so the camera team could work. They’ll never know about the projectors that won’t initialize, the moving lights that won’t strike, the batteries that almost died, how close to the edge of feedback you were, the audio interface that wouldn’t, the digital piano that wouldn’t play.
They come to church thinking everything is just hunky-dory and enjoy the service. They never know about any of the battles you’ve fought to get there. And you know what? That’s probably OK. After all, we don’t want them thinking about that stuff during the service. We really want them to experience a connection with their Creator. We are there to help facilitate that.
And as much as we might wish our leadership team would recognize what we do, they probably won’t either. Mainly because they have no idea what we do and if we try to explain it to them, their eyes glaze over. And in fact, I’d much rather have my pastor focused on delivering his message instead of wondering if that problem we solved and told him about is going to crop up again.
No, it’s better to keep these things to ourselves. We are a rumor, recognizable as Deja Vu and dismissed just as quickly. Anonymity is our name. Silence our native tongue. We’re them, we’re they. We are the men in black.
OK, so maybe that last part was a bit dramatic (unless you read it in Rip Torn’s voice, then it’s awesome!). But you get the idea. And I do have two bits of encouragement for you.
First, if you don’t already have some fellow tech friends, find some. We get each other. When you tell a fellow tech a story of a crazy thing you had to fix, we can laugh (or cry) with you. We get it. We feel your pain, and we understand.
Second, God sees what you do in the shadows. He knows how early you get up in the morning and how late you stay at night working hard to make it all happen. And He is pleased with you. He wants you to be encouraged and strengthened. He loves your heart for service, your mind that is capable of understanding and fixing all sorts of crazy tech issues (in fact, He gave you that mind), and wants you to know it’s all worth it.
So while we may never get our hands on a Noisy Cricket, it is good to know that we are doing our part to defend and protect our congregation from the alien invasion of noise, pops, feedback and other technical anomalies. And that’s pretty cool.