This past weekend, I had the opportunity to run lyrics/media at an annual youth conference that I first attended as a teenager. This is a highlight for me each year because I get to connect with a lot of people and be a part of creating a powerful experience for about 3,000 teenagers. These days, I typically only serve at the event closest to my home, but most of the guys on the production crew travel to each of the seven cities on the tour. While I have great memories of the years where I made it to every city, there was one aspect that I never enjoyed. After several weeks of working backstage at these conferences, I began to notice a disturbing trend in myself, some of the cameramen, sound crew, and production managers. While we have been blessed to have some of the best worship bands in the business (Israel Houghton, Phil Wickham, Desperation Band, Hillsong United, David Crowder, etc.) and some of the most powerful speakers (Francis Chan, Carl Lentz, Jentezen Franklin, Reggie Dabbs, etc.), there seemed to be a spiritual coldness backstage behind the pipe and drape.
While there were people in the crowd connecting with God in incredible ways no more than 50 feet away, I would see camera guys joking back and forth on their headsets, sound guys so disengaged that they would be just as happy muting the speaker, and producers watching the stage countdown like a hawk to see when they’d be done for the day. The bad part? I’d be right there with them. In a lot of ways, after just a few weeks of doing it, it became more of a job than a ministry opportunity for us.
I’ve seen myself give in to this mindset so many times. Not just at large conferences like this, but on Sunday mornings, too. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of passionless routine and complacency when you’re involved with the same tasks each week. Before long, what you once viewed as a way to lead people into the presence of God, you now view as simply a list of tasks to check off.
Maybe you’ve found yourself here before. Where serving on the media or sound team turns from a get to into a have to task. Where you’ve become so callused that while everyone else in the room feels God, your main focus is what’s next on your schedule. Where you’ve forgotten that church media is not about lumens and decibels, but about souls being saved and lives being changed.
The way I figure it, there are two ways that you can approach production both in conference settings like this and on Sunday mornings. It can simply be a job, something to do rather than sitting in a pew, or a place to just hang out with friends. Or, you can treat every mouse click and adjustment on the sound board as an opportunity to lead people into worship. More than anything else, I think it’s the attitude that you carry while you participate in production that makes the difference. An attitude of worship—a holy demeanor if you will—is what will turn mere pixels into an avenue to lead people into His presence.
Of course, there is balance to everything. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with joking around or having a good time. But, you have to remember the seriousness of how production leads people into worship just like standing on stage with a guitar. Never forget that God can still speak to you whether you’re clicking lyrics, behind a camera, or running sound—be listening for His voice. Lastly, I find nothing wrong with having a schedule for your church service. But, I do think it’s critical that we’re more concerned with what God’s doing in that moment than what you have coming up next. Be present in mind and heart.