Friday, July 14, 2006

Worship Planning and Tech Folks

Today's Topic: Questions & Answers

Several weeks ago, Peter Schott asked this question...
"How does your team fit in with planning of services? Do you find out early/late? Do you give feedback on how you could use the available technology to enhance worship events?
This is an excellent question, and one that I will answer from where Covenant Life is right now. As you'll probably see here, though I serve an amazing church which has experienced much grace from God, there are still ways in which we can and are trying to grow. This is one of them.

Let me address the last question first. "Do you give feedback on how you could use the available technology to enhance worship events?" Absolutely.

In Joshua Harris, I am blessed to have a very tech-savvy, design-wise senior pastor. His sense for how multimedia, technology, and meeting "flow" will affect the congregation is unusually astute. In fact, his sense is much better than mine. However, he always makes me aware of any specific ideas he has for technology or multimedia use, and I get to give input as to whether or not I think it will serve well. Most of the time he is right on.

The pastors also make sure to evaluate each Sunday morning, to assess how things went in every area. While I'm not directly involved in that discussion, much comes from that conversation which I hear about from my boss, Corby Megorden, the church administrator. Sometimes, Josh will bring up thoughts from those meetings with me later. Again, at those points, my input, feedback, and suggestions are clearly welcome and expected.

But when does all this happen?

I meet each week on Wednesday with the senior pastor, his administrative assistant, the church administrator, music director, outreach adminstrator, and a few other "guests" to discuss upcoming Sundays. Usually we focus on the next Sunday morning. We also look at the next month to move forward on any Sundays that we want to make particularly special for the congregation. The pastors also meet weekly for Sunday evaluation.

And that's it.

Honestly, our current structure doesn't allow for much advance planning, which can make it difficult to execute creative ideas well. However, we are currently in a "momentary" (8 months so far) creative planning hiatus. The staff used to meet quarterly with other creatively gifted people from the congregation to brainstorm multimedia, drama, and other creative elements for Sundays.

Why not any more? Well, last October we went from only having one Sunday service each week to offering two different times. At the same time, we had to cut our service length by 30 minutes. For the time being, we shifted our resources to focus on the administrative challenges of two services and assumed that most of our creative stuff would end up being cut by the 30 minute shrinking.

However, we're getting back on track this fall with regular creative planning, and I'm stoked because I think the new routine will help us do even better.

Here's our new plan: The Sunday Creative Team, which will now be an official entity, will meet quarterly to discuss 6 months worth of Sunday services at a time. One half of the meeting will be dedicated to project management of the next 3 months of creative ideas. Who's doing what when? What is still needed? What is the progress of the near-term projects?

The other half of the meeting will be dedicated to brainstorming creative ideas for months 4-6. At the next meeting, then, we'll work more specifically to project-manage those ideas. With our former process, we came up with a lot of great ideas, but we rarely had people follow through on those ideas. Hopefully, with the new 3-month planning overlap each time and specific project management, we'll really be able to get things moving.

So, that's what we're up to here.

Did you notice that there's a word missing from this post: "team." I see a good deal of "I"s and "me"s, but no "team." Unfortunately, because I'm the only staff member, I'm the only person on the technical teams that really has contact with the creative process.

Anyone have any ideas on how to change that?


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