a change of venue

I am amazed at what a change of venue can do to my outlook.  No, not the Avid Venue, and no, not my calendar, but my actual outlook.

6954565333_4e9a74a4c8_bI am sitting at a some Starbucks that I have never been to before, and will probably never come again.  I am having new thoughts and brainstorming new ways of doing ministry that I would never be able to do from my office.

When I think about the times I’ve been able to go to other churches and see how they do things a little differently, I wish I did it more often.  Or when I am able to see a show, or go back stage, there is always a new perspective on my every day life.

At the end of this day, I am glad I put it on the calendar months ago.  I am also I got barred from boarding the train this morning (a story for another time), because it led me to this spot instead.

When was the last time you changed your venue?

Mark your calendar for a day to see backstage somewhere, or sit in a coffee shop, or be inspired in some way.


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planning for something that has never happened before

This week has been pretty interesting.  Much of it comes from recovering from Easter.  We are a little outside of our normal routine, especially with a hefty load out, and we are working hard to make sure members of the team can have some recovery time.  Vacation or an extra day off, whatever.

row of casesAs a result, we hit this weekend with lots of little things undone, making it unpleasant for several volunteers.  We started analyzing what went wrong and how we could have prevented them from happening.  This is a useful exercise, but I think there is a better way to look at this.  Instead of beating ourselves up for what we should have done differently, we should be looking forward to how to prevent something similar from happening again.

A process problem

Some of what we experienced this week, was a result of process:  an inconsistent process, a less than thorough process, a letting slip of parts of the process that matter.

It is really easy to complain about how the process doesn’t work; in fact I think it is a favorite of most technical artists.  The trick is what to do about fixing it for next time.  Whether it is in your job description or not, if the current process affects you and your team negatively, how can you contribute to making it what you and your volunteers need?

A knowledge problem

Sometimes things happen that we didn’t plan on, and they aren’t a result of a bad process, but just simply a lack of knowledge.  When I first got involved doing production stuff in the local church full time, there was a stretch of time (maybe 6 months) that something went wrong each week, making us start rehearsal late.  At a certain point, the music director at my church was like:  “what the heck!”  The interesting thing about this particular run of problems, was that each one was different.  I would learn some new thing, fix it, then the next week something completely different would break.

I learned 2 things here.  One is to over-communicate when things are not going well.  If something is broken, tell your worship pastor what’s going on.  Having them be in the dark is never a good thing.  In my example, from the music director’s perspective, the same problem was happening every week:  rehearsal was starting late.  From my perspective, a completely new problem would happen each week.  I just needed to let him know that we had fixed a particular problem, and that a new, unforeseen problem was cropping up the this week.

A knowledge problem leads to a process solution

The other thing I learned was that with each new knowledge problem I tackled, I needed a new process to make sure it didn’t happen again.

In another example with the same music director, I had taken a vacation and had lined up my best volunteers to make the weekends happen.  We were meeting in a high school and had 3 semi trailers full of gear to haul over to the school and unload each week.  One of our cases would come off the trailer each week to be loaded up with things from our offices and then on Saturday would be put on the trailer to go to the school.  On one of these weeks that I was gone, a case that never came off the trailer was taken out and left in the offices.  As a result, some key equipment wasn’t available for set up, making rehearsal start late, my music director’s favorite thing.

When I got back from vacation, he lit into me about how could I let something like that happen, and who was to blame and I can never take another vacation over a weekend again.

It dawned on me:  how can I plan for something that has never happened before?  The answer I came up with is that you can’t plan for something that has never happened.  There was no point in wondering how I could have prevented it from happening the first time, since I didn’t even know it could happen.  The trick was figuring out how it wouldn’t happen again.

When something happens that you didn’t plan on, it is either a process problem or a knowledge problem that needs to lead to a process change.

The next time something you didn’t plan for happens, don’t dwell on what you should have done different, use your energy to figure out what to do differently next time.

the other keep calm and carry on

Back in the summer of 1940, Britain was getting severely bombed.  As a way to keep people moving forward with their lives amid the ruin of their surroundings, the British government developed a series of posters to put around London to help solidify the resolve of the British people to face each day.

Many of us are familiar with one of these posters, which Has taken over most gift shops on coffee mugs, key chains and iPhone covers:  Keep Calm and Carry On.  Interestingly, this particular poster was never put up.  It was saved for when Britain was invaded, which never happened.

One of the posters that was used extensively was this:

Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory.


There is so much about this particular poster that I love.  Not just thinking about it in terms of the Battle of Britain, but about how it can apply to my own life.

I don’t often go around wondering how I am going to achieve victory, but if I think about it in terms of effectiveness, for myself or the team that I am working on, this makes great sense.

Going to work in the world of the technical arts in the local church and applying personal courage, cheerfulness and resolution to what I do every day, definitely point things in a direction of being more effective.

Courage:  To not be afraid of who I am or the opinions I have and to have courage enough to act on them (in appropriate ways, of course), will make the team I am on much better.  For the body of Christ to function properly, we all need to have the courage to be our fullest version of ourselves.

Cheerfulness:  Production people are known for being grumpy.  What if I showed up to work with a great attitude each day?  What if I didn’t immediately shoot down someone’s idea, but took a minute to engage with what is right with it?  To not always look at what is wrong, but to see what is right.  How could your team look different if people showed up (yourself included) with cheerfulness?

Resolution:  No, we are talking about 720 vs. 1080.  As a technical artist, this is more about fighting for the things that you were designed to care about.  Will you do the necessary work to make your services the best they can be?  Even when a relationship is strained will you push through for the sake of the whole team?

While we are fighting every day for victory per se, my courage, my cheerfulness and my resolution will all contribute to my team being the best it can possibly be.


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