The Collision of Technology and Creativity Pt. 1

Image Courtesy of Charlie Wollborg

Image Courtesy of Charlie Wollborg

If you’ve been in church production for any length of time, there is a pretty good chance this has happened to you: You’re sitting in a service planning meeting and whoever is in charge starts throwing out crazy ideas of what they want to happen on the weekend. A friend of mine had his pastor ask to be able to have graphics appear in the air, then sweep them away and bring new ones on. You know, like in Iron Man.

My friend had to explain to him that the technology he was referring to doesn’t actually exist. It’s a movie, not real life. The pastor then asked how much it would cost to do something like that. He was serious. 

Grumpy Old Tech Guys

It’s easy to see how tech guys can get the reputation for being grumpy. Someone comes to us with an idea like that and the full expectation that we can pull it off. This weekend. With no budget. Or staff. Our natural reaction is to get upset and start explaining to them how clueless they are and why it can’t work. 

Now, I understand that those kind of requests can be frustrating. But getting upset and telling everyone off won’t help you or the church in the long run. What we have to do is find a way to bridge the gap between expectations and reality, between what our creative directors want and what can actually be accomplished within time and budget constraints. Doing that and making everyone involved feel like they are being listened to and appreciated can be a challenge, but it is possible. There are several things to keep in mind when something like this comes up.

It Happens to All of Us

Many times, we can feel like no one else has to put up with these crazy requests. We’re pretty sure no one has ever asked for two huge crosses on the stage for this weekend. And it’s already Thursday. You might think that no other worship leader has ever asked for a band that includes almost twice as many inputs as we have on the console (they have). 

So take courage in knowing that this crazy stuff comes up in many churches. If nothing else, know that other technical leaders are dealing with the same kinds of weird requests. I find just knowing that makes it more tolerable. 

They Don’t Know How Hard This Is

One of the downsides to what we do is that we often make it look easy. And our church leaders really have no idea how hard and time consuming even a normal weekend is. It doesn’t occur to the average pastor that the technical team working that big conference he went to last month was probably larger than the entire staff at your church. They also had several months to plan and prepare, along with a sizable budget.

But remember, their job is not your job. So when they come up with a crazy-creative idea that would make for an amazing sermon illustration or special service, they aren’t trying to make your life miserable. They really don’t know how hard it is. I say this not as criticism of them, but for your benefit. If we fly off the handle at them for coming up with this idea, it creates unnecessary tension. People tend to think that others are like them. And you may not have noticed this yet, but you are not like other people. We technical types will start working out in our heads all the things that it will take to pull off one of those wild, out-there ideas before we even hear the end. Most people don’t do that. They just have a cool idea.

No one likes being around someone who says, “No,” to everything. My friend Van says we are sometimes categorized as “dream killers” because we are always saying no to our pastor’s dreams. It’s no wonder there tends to be an undercurrent of distrust and tension between the tech team and the rest of the staff. 

So, what is the solution? Stay tuned for the next post…

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