Technology Lumping

Somewhere out there you might have noticed that sound, lighting and video are different (with apologies to The Masked Engineer). In the professional world, audio guys hold little regard for "squints." The lighting guys don't really care if there's enough light for the video, and the video guys, well they don't like anyone. A slight exaggeration, perhaps; but you get the point. In the church world however, those three disciplines typically get lumped together along with graphic design, presentation and IT--a dog's breakfast of technology. After all, they all use fancy and expensive equipment and computers with all those knobs and button thingeys. Therefore, they must all the same. And if you know one, you must know them all.

Sound familiar? Many churches often expect their tech guy or gal to be a master of all things technical, and then are disappointed when they're not. "I have a full-time tech guy on staff, but he doesn't seem to know how to mix." Or, "Why can't my tech guy figure out how to make our background graphics look better?" Or, "We have a tech guy, but our lighting is still amateurish."

Perhaps an analogy would help. Consider a worship leader who is quite good with a guitar. We would naturally expect him to also be highly proficient on bass, piano, viola, cello and a harp, right? Because, they all use strings, so it's all pretty much the same. Strings, music, what's the problem?

The reality is we might find quite a few musicians who excel at two instruments. A select few master more. Most, however, are really good at one or two and might be able to plunk out a melody on a couple others. Now, I want to let you in on a secret. It's the same with technical arts.

A few people in this business are masters of sound, lighting and video. Rarer still are those that can also design and build amazing graphics and sets. Most of us are really good at one or two things and can perhaps plunk out a melody on the others. And you know what? That's OK!

Smart churches don't expect their Senior Pastor to be able to preach, lead the church, lead the student and children's ministry, do all the counseling, manage the rest of the staff and balance the church budget. Rather, they expect them to be really good at one or two things and bring other smart people around them to do the rest of the work. Why should the technical arts be so different?

A few years ago, I decided it wasn't going to be possible for me to know everything about all the disciplines of the technical arts. I get most excited about sound and video production, so that's where I've focused my energies. The rest I fill in with Google, blogs, Twitter and other smart tech guys who know more than me. Think about how much better off the Church would be if instead of running 100 miles an hour with our hair on fire trying to be jacks of all trades (and masters of none), we focused on doing a few things well and shared our experience with others.

I also believe churches would go through a lot fewer tech guys who "didn't really quite work out," if we come to this realization. Rather than continually searching for the perfect tech person (and burning through those who don't measure up), a church could celebrate the accomplishments of our technical artists and find ways to round out the skill areas. Does that seem appealing to anyone else besides me?