Generally speaking, technical people are a somewhat unsocial lot. Most of us are introverts, and typically we’d prefer to work alone rather than be around a big bunch of people. That’s not to say we don’t love to talk with other people (most of us can go on for hours when we start “talkin’ tech...”), but being around a large group tends to drain us. I recognize that in my own life and try to intentionally find time to be alone to recharge. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t need community. I would go so far to say that we were created for community. God wants us to be in relationship with other people. And I think he wants us to be in community with other tech people.
One thing that has excited me more than almost anything else is the rise of a technical artist’s community over the last few years. Technology itself has made it possible for church techs to connect with each other, even if we’re scattered all over the country. Now, I’m clearly a Twitter fanatic (check my stats...), but that platform alone has made it possible to connect with a great group of people (not just church techs) all over the country. Often, I find myself DM’ing or @replying to people even locally rather than texting; sometimes it’s faster. There are so many people that I’ve gotten to know over Twitter, and a good number of those online relationships have turned into great friendships. Sometimes we even get to meet in person (or IRL, In Real Life, as they say).
While online relationships are great, and I value those that I have, I think we also need to be in community with other people around us. It fascinates and puzzles me when I hear about a local church TD who doesn’t really have any desire to get to know other TDs or spend any time with them. I really don’t know why that is. I know we’re all busy--I have a to-do list that grows by the hour--but still I make the time to meet with other TDs around here. The reason is simple; no one else gets me like another TD. We all know ministry is hard, and technical ministry is really hard. Typically, there is just one or two tech people on any given staff. That means there is no one else in your church who you can complain to, bounce ideas off of or talk things through. Few people have any idea what we even do, let alone understand it. That’s why at least once a month, I try to have lunch with a TD from my local area. Sometimes “local” means a 45-60 minute drive. But you know what? It’s totally worth it. I know I walk away from those meetings encouraged, and I’m told those who have lunch with me are encouraged also. And it’s not because I’m this great encourager; there’s just something about spending time with another TD that makes our own troubles seem smaller.
Another high point for me is the local SoCal CDTRT meetings we’ve been having. This past Monday marked the third “official” SoCal CTDRT Meet Up, and we once again had over 15 guys, some of whom drove 2-3 hours to get there. Why did they do that? Because they recognize the importance of meeting with other TDs. Sure, we played with some cool gear and got free lunch. But I’m pretty sure that’s not the draw. The reason they all came is the conversations that happen around the tables at lunch, and all afternoon. I’m an introvert, so those meetings are draining for me, but I love them. I have gotten to know some great guys at these events, and I want to spend more time with them. So we’ll do another in January.
So what can/should you do if you’re a TD? First, seek out other TDs in your community. Look in the CTDRT directory and see who’s around you. If you’re not a member of the CTDRT, join. If you can’t find anyone, start calling around to larger churches and see if you can figure out who the tech guy is (websites are great for this...). Go out to lunch or coffee with them. Or stop by and visit to check our their facility. Maybe even stop in for a service if you can swing the schedule. Perhaps you need to be the one to organize a local CTDRT meet up. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t have to bring in gear to demo or even find a sponsor to buy lunch. Just meet at a restaurant and have lunch (that’s how the SoCal meetings started...). The bottom line is you have have to make the effort. Pretend you’re a jock and “Just Do It.” Trust me, you won’t regret it.
UPDATE 9/3/11: The CTDRT has be re-formed as CTL, Church Tech Leaders. That site can be found at www.churchtechleaders.org