silence to violence

I have been a tech person in the local church for the majority of my life.  Can I really be that old?  Yes, is the answer.

When I look back into the dim early years of existence, I remember a time when I used to get pretty frustrated with people.  I mean really frustrated.  Having the music director add an instrument at the last minute would send me over the edge.  Getting a call late on Saturday night to bring some large thing the next morning would usually send me into a fit.  People repurposing equipment without telling me would also get me all riled up.

If I think about it, much of the things that drove me crazy were people ignoring my boundaries.  I felt like no one had any respect for my life or what I needed to do my job well.

From the outside looking in, what most people saw was me going from “silence to violence”, a phrase I read in Joseph Grenny’s book Influencers.  To the people I was working with, they knew me as a pretty quiet person, until I would suddenly explode.

From my perspective, it seemed like I had communicated my needs to people, and that they should have known that they were violating our agreements.  I need all the band information on Friday, so that we can come up with a plan for how we are going to make it all fit on Sunday morning.  Or because we are portable, I need to know what you need thrown on the trailer by Saturday morning so that the volunteer driver can make sure it makes it to church.

In reality, I wasn’t communicating.  At least, not on a regular basis.  I made assumptions that other, non-technical people understood my world as much as I did.  It turned out that they just didn’t care.  And not in a bad way.  The reality is that they have a ton of other things to worry about just making their own thing happen.

How can I communicate on a regular basis what I need to get the job done well without seeming like a nag?

The creative people we work with will always have ideas that outpace the realities of the equipment we have and the time available.  And they should have these ideas.  It is our job as technical artists to foster these ideas and help shape them into what can be accomplished.

Instead of hearing an idea and getting silently angry because there is no way to do that with the resources we have (and you should know this), we need to communicate often about what is possible.

The idea generating people aren’t out to get you, they are just trying to generate ideas.  Have you ever tried to come up with idea out of thin air?  It is not easy.  Let’s not make it more difficult by passive aggressively wishing people would consider the technical feasibility of their ideas.  That’s your job.

For the partnership of the creative and technical arts to work, we need lots of communication.  Don’t hold it all in and then explode.  Work things out along the way, with grace for each other.

photo by: gnuckx

we all want the same thing

I’m a technical artist.  I want the execution of the service to be flawless.  You see me as a  uptight, perfectionistic, idea crusher.

You are a creative artist.  You want to keep things loose and organic.  I see you as lazy with a lack of regard of what it really takes.

These are pretty severe extremes.  I’m not sure that we ever talk in these terms, but they do tend to exist on some levels, on many teams.

I would argue that in reality, we are closer than we appear.

I believe that in most of our churches, the technical artists (the people in the booth) and the creative artists (the people on stage) essentially want the same thing.  We want to create an environment where God moves in our services.  We want to see our gifts and talents used in ways greater than ourselves.  We don’t want to fail…we want to succeed.

The challenge is our perspectives.  I have a list of things that really matter to me that you don’t seem to care about at all.  And you have your own list of things that I frankly don’t care about either.  From these perspectives, when we start talking about how to make our services amazing, it is no wonder that we experience some tension.

So what do we do about this tension?  I don’t think we can wish it would go away, because as Andy Stanley says, it is a tension to manage.  I would maybe go one step further and say that it is a tension to celebrate.

When we look at our services, it takes the full range of talents and expertise to make it all work.  Musicians, lighting designers, worship leaders, CG operators, pastors, audio engineers…the list could go on.  Without each of these people contributing their part, the whole thing wouldn’t work.

God made each one of these people a certain way.  He wired each one to care about certain things and not about others.  He created the camera operator to see interesting compositions and the vocalist to interpret music with their voice.  With each skill and each type of person, there are corresponding development tracks and preparation techniques and execution requirements to achieve the desired outcome for each discipline.

With this diverse group of people comes…wait for it…a diverse group of people.

To isolate ourselves and only care about our own process is not how God designed the body of Christ to function.  Yes, we all need to care deeply about our talent, but we also have to be willing to let go of our grip for the benefit of the whole.

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

When you boil it all down, we all want the same thing:  God to move in our services through my individual contribution.  

We all have different contributions with different needs.  

How can I fight for what I need, while at the same time celebrate you fighting for what you need?

We all want the service to be great, we just have different ways to get to great.