I’m one of those weird people who rarely dream at night. Seriously – we’re talking nearly once every six months here. I’ll often hear my friends telling funny stories of the silly circumstances that their subconscious cooked up in their dreams. Sometimes they’ll even share their eerie nightmares that followed a late dinner of Chinese takeout. But, that’s not me.
On the rare occasion that my subconscious constructs a story that plays out as I sleep, it’s usually about a church media fumble. That’s right. I have nightmares about things going wrong on Sunday morning with production.
It may be a video freezing in the middle of playback, a click track skipping, or accidentally pressing the Live Video button in ProPresenter (which then defaults to the webcam and shows my embarrassed face to the entire audience).
As I examine these nightmares, one thing stands out to me about myself. I can get WAYYYY too focused on my media being flawless. Church media shouldn’t be about the pursuit of perfection, but about building a team that uses their talents to enhance Sunday services for others. Sure, it’s okay to strive for error-less services. But, when is the last time you kept your “scorecard” on your team’s wins, rather than how many mistakes you made in a service?
A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to shadow the production team at the Auburn campus of Church of the Highlands. It was there that I first caught a glimpse of a healthy way to approach mistakes in live production. On this particular weekend, they were experiencing a lot of heavy rainfall and it was slowing down their internet connection quite a bit. A solid connection is vital to the flow of their services because they are an extension site that projects a live video feed from their main campus in Birmingham.
In the three services that I joined them for that Sunday, they experienced trouble with the live feed in each service. To make matters worse, the one safety net that they have established for this, a hard drive with a recording of the earlier service, was malfunctioning for the first time in campus history. Let me be clear here—I would have been freaking out.
In the midst of all of these chaotic circumstances, their team kept level heads. While they may not have been able to prevent some problems, they worked hard to make all of the areas that they could control right. In fact, to sit back and watch their team come together in those moments was really incredible. Rather than cussin’ and fussin’ as it’s easy to do in the heat of those moments, they communicated calmly and executed their tasks with precision. When mistakes were made, they quickly picked themselves up and encouraged each other to keep moving forward. In a day filled with stress, I even saw them highfiving each other when things would go right.
Have you ever celebrated what went right with your media on Sunday morning?
At the conclusion of my shadowing, I spent a few minutes with the team’s leader, Marc Johnson. He shared with me a very simple, but profound truth. Their production booth is located in a very visible area in the back of their auditorium. If their team was to outwardly express whenever things were going wrong, everyone in the room would take notice. Not only is the worship team and campus pastor looking directly to them, but the entire audience can see them. If they will keep a level head when things are going wrong, everyone else will, too.
He also shared with me a great silver lining of publicly making fumbles. When everything is going great with production, potential volunteers assume they aren’t needed. Sometimes the smallest mistakes on a Sunday morning will prompt newcomers that help is needed and they’ll make a move to start volunteering. While it’s never intentional that a mistake is made, this has inspired many people to get involved in his time there. (They have a current rotation of around 40 production volunteers.)
Overall, you must realize that perfection is impossible. What’s important is that you always work to nurture an atmosphere of excellence, while still providing the grace necessary to make fumbles and learn from them.
Learn from your mistakes. Be proud of your accomplishments. More than anything else, understand the importance of what you do for the Kingdom.