imperfect, but usable

Based on my last 2 posts about what we do and how we do it, let’s say you and your team and doing amazing work, and you are treating each other the way Christ commands us. Is that all there is? If I do those two things, God will bless everything we do?  Not necessarily. I would say there is one more component to what it means to do production in the local church.

After we’ve done our very best, and we’ve exhibited the fruit of the spirit to each other, we need to let God do his work.

For whatever reason, God has chosen for us to be a part of his plan to redeem the world; that people would encounter Christ through our involvement in the world. By using our gifts and talents for his purposes, we are bringing heaven to earth.

If I were God and I was infinite, I don’t think I would save the world using finite people. We are all flawed and imperfect, so why would God want to introduce risk into the equation?

5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Cor 4:5-7

OK, so God wants to use us, but he also wants to make it very clear that he deserves the credit for what happens. All our work and all our love for each other isn’t what brings people to Christ, but it is the Holy Spirit. At the end of the day, God doesn’t need us to accomplish his purposes. Yet he wants to involve us, and then he wants there to be no question that He is the one who is moving.

After we nail every transition, and love each other to death, it is still God who is working in the lives of people.

The beautiful part is that even when we don’t nail every transition, and when our love for each other is less than it could be, it is still God who is working in the lives of people.

Following Christ as a technical artist can be challenging.

Care deeply about technical excellence, but don’t worry about it.

Live out the fruit of the spirit, but if you don’t, God is still working.

If God can work when things aren’t working, imagine how much more effective we could be for His purposes when things are working well?

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Cor 15:58



AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by corey.wagehoft

a new commandment to technical artists

In my last post, I talked about how we being excellent in each tiny detail adds up to overall excellence. You can’t have a great event without taking care of all the small things. If you look around at many live events or events on TV, you’ll notice that these things happen all the time. There are tons of amazing technical artists taking care of the smallest details so that the event happens without us even noticing how production is playing its part. At the least, we should be striving for this kind of excellence in production.

But I don’t think that’s enough. For those of us doing production work in the local church, or even in my recent case, being a part of a German/American production crew to pull off the Germany Leadership Conference, there has to be more to it than just nailing all the production details. So what separates our production from any other?

For those of us doing production in the local church, we have the opportunity to use our art to advance a pretty amazing purpose: spreading the gospel message of Christ. However, this is only an external difference between doing production in church or being a part of a production at the auto show. But this still doesn’t begin to define what it means to practice the technical arts as a Christ follower.

Excellence in production is pursued everywhere, so that can’t be the answer. Whether you are turning a mic on for a pastor or a spokesperson for the car company, that doesn’t define the difference either.

Jesus summed it up pretty well in John 13:34-35:

     34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

While we are taking care of every little detail, while we are striving for excellence, how are we treating each other? While we are striving for excellence, how are we interacting with each other?

Jesus said we wouldn’t be different because we just happened to be doing production in a church. He said we’d be different because people would see how we love each other as we are doing production.

When things get intense during rehearsal, how are you responding to those around you? When mistakes happen, how do you handle yourself with volunteers? When someone asks for something last minute, what is your knee-jerk reaction?

While the task of production is important, if we aren’t nailing the details, loving each other isn’t going to be the answer for doing great production in your church. But if you are killing the production parts, but steam rolling over people, you’re totally missing what it means to follow Christ as a technical artist. You must be doing both.

[I’ve included some more pictures of the Germany Leadership Conference from the perspective of the people involved.]

no detail too small

There are some days that I really love my job. I am currently in a run of days that are generally some of my best experiences in production, the Germany Leadership Summit. It happens every other year, and I have had the pleasure of leading these trips since 2005. I can’t even believe it.

I am usually more tired during these trips than for any other production that I get to be a part of, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. To build something from nothing and then watch thousands of German speaking people singing familiar songs in a language I don’t understand will never get old to me.

In the first few days of our experience, we are pretty much just getting stuff done: banging truss together, running hundreds of meters (yes, meters) of cable, hanging projectors and line arrays…pretty much building the environment.

Taken as a whole, it is a TON of work. It is so much, that it can almost seem insurmountable. However, in reality, the whole thing is made up of small, doable parts. Unwinding a cable, rigging a motor, aiming a projector. With the team I get to work with, these tasks are pretty straight forward, if not beneath their abilities. Yet here we find ourselves spending the majority of our time doing these things.

What I love so much about this team, is that while their talents are amazing, they are not too good to dive in and do whatever needs to get done. The other day, a team mate reminded me of a phrase that we used to say a lot: “Here to serve!” This phrase exemplifies the attitude of this production team.

We have a ton of little things to do, and we are going to kill it on each one of these. No detail is too small to not do our very best with. Especially on an event of this scale, the details all add up to something huge. Each tiny thing adds up to the whole. So if we are only doing an OK job along the way, that could potentially add up to disaster. Why take a chance that one small shortcut will come back to bite us later. Let’s do it right the first time.

My pastor, Bill Hybels, often says that God deserves our best, since God has only ever given us his best in the person of his son, Jesus. Excellence matters, but not just to be the best. Striving for excellence is a reflection on how we serve Christ. Are we giving our best, even in the small things, or are we looking for easy ways out as we go?

As we step into this event, we are striving to do our very best, even in (especially in) the smallest detail.

right now vs exact planning

Lately, I have a noticed a difference in thinking between senior leaders and tech people. Senior leaders don’t really notice technology issues until they are issues, and they want them fixed immediately. Tech people on the other hand are always trying to plan for the issues, but really can’t do all the work of figuring things out until they have the green light.

Sooner or later this issue can set the two groups onto a collision course. Once we have the go ahead, we want to start teasing out every detail to make the very best choices for budget and capacity, all of which takes time. From leadership’s standpoint, once they say “go”, they are ready for it to happen.

So how do we handle this potential conflict? What is the balance between right now and the time required to plan every little detail?

A good starting point is to talk about what the goal is for the particular project. Is time of the essence? Is money tight? These two questions will help define which end of the spectrum your brain needs to think about this project.


If speed is the most important factor, money will probably not be spent in the most frugal fashion. When you are running fast, you end up making choices that are more expensive than if you had time to do the research necessary to figure out the best solution. If time matters the most, be ready to feel like you are throwing money around.


If your budget is tight and therefore by default the most important value, you will most likely spend more time trying to figure out how to accomplish the goals and spend the least amount as possible.

At both extremes, there comes a time when you need to just get the work done. At a certain point, you just have to dive in and get it done. Otherwise we could research something to death looking for the cheapest or most precise answer. Or with speed being the highest value, get all caught up making sure we are doing the exact right thing and then not making any decisions.

Working in production as long as I have, I probably fall on the side of wanting to research as long as possible, to save the most amount of money as possible and come up with the perfect solution. As a result, it can sometimes feel to my leaders like I’m not getting anything done.

I love how Seth Godin talks about “shipping”. The idea that nothing will ever be fully done, and so you need to become disciplined to just get things out the door. Especially in the world of technology, the minute we decide to head in a certain direction, the technology will be obsolete. This can make the speed part of the equation so difficult to handle, because we want to get the most technology for the money.

So what is the right balance of speed and cost? Somewhere in between. When I think about it, it might have more to do with what will help our church the most right now? Where is the momentum? Will we lose it if we take too long to figure out the perfect solution? Maybe we’ll lose it if we hurry up and make the wrong decisions.

Wherever it is, make sure that you are on the same page with your senior leaders in each given situation.



AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Alan in Belfast