The other day, my team and I participated in a thought exercise that Steven Sample, author of the book “The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership”, talks about. When he was faced with a particularly difficult challenge, he would try to imagine how a lady bug would solve the problem, or even how a dishwasher might think about solutions.
The idea was to try and think differently about how things get done. Not to just think differently, but think in radical terms, to free your brain from constraints and preconceived ideas about how things are done or should be done. I decided that I would consider how ninjas might do production at my church. It was a fun exercise, and most of the ideas, if not all of the ideas we had were ridiculous and impossible or both.
It got me thinking about how we go about doing production for our church and the ministries that we support. So much of what we do and how we do it is a function of either how we have always done it or because we are processing things based on production values alone. During the exercise, nothing really popped out as wrong thinking or that there needed to be crazy changes. What did jump out to me was wondering what matters to our church, especially when it pertains to production.
I do a lot of defining expectations for my team, mostly based on my production perspective. I can’t remember the last time I asked the church leadership what they expected from my team. Is audio consistency the highest value or is volunteer involvement the most important thing? Is a short rehearsal critical, or should we allow for more time to work through the kinks? Is having cameras pointed at the wrong thing a problem, or do we need to increase our level of camera work?
I am feeling pretty sarcastic even asking these questions! As a production person, I am guessing we would all answer these questions in a similar manner. However, if you have chosen to invest your production skills in the local church, at the baseline you know that the point of all this production is to help to facilitate life change. If all you cared about was production values, you could go on tour or work for a production company or any number of places, where there is more money to do things at the highest levels.
I’m not saying that excellence doesn’t matter or that production doesn’t have a place in the church. On the contrary, I am very passionate about the role that technical artists play in the life of the local church. However, my passion and values have to be balanced against the passion and values of my church. What is my church about? How does production fit into how ministry happens? How do we have an appropriate level of production without just spending money on the newest gear, that may be exactly what we think our church needs?
How many assumptions do you make about what your church leadership thinks about production? When was the last time you asked the question: “What are the expectations?” Take a look at what you and your team are about and try to imagine how ninjas would get that done.