Tech geeks are really a different breed from most of your church staff. There are lots of reasons for this, a few of which I will go into, but the result is often time you end up with a high capacity asset, who is under utilized. Continue Reading…
Archives For communication
Symbols are important, we use them to communicate volumes by looking a simple design that often has no words as all. Continue Reading…
Interviews are fun things, I have had the opportunity to participate in an number of interviews in the past few months and I have heard some amazing questions and some amazing answers to questions.
Latest tech review from Church Production Magazine
I work in an office that at one time was a meeting room. Now it houses 5 cubes, and until recently has been inhabited by only men. The other constant through out the ever changing staff exiled to this office, was that it was always dark. One reason was because the lights buzzed when dimmed even the slightest amount. The other reason is traditionally it was occupied by creatives. So what?
Today was an interesting day, everyone had the day off to recover from the volunteer appreciation last Friday. So with no one in the office it was the perfect time for our IT guy, Bill Morrison, to do some updates of our phone internet servers. I came in because a day off for me is really just one less day to get work done, which makes taking days off almost not worth it. Plus I knew Bill could use some help.
At one point today we got to talking about communication, or the lack there of at our church. During this conversation Bill made the comment “we just don’t have a culture of communication.” I realized that was really the problem, it’s not that people don’t want to communicate, it’s really they don’t know how, or to who. Worse was the realization that all the tools in the world wouldn’t fix it if it was not a cultural change.
One of our problems is we have become a big staff very quickly. People that have been around awhile never had to learn to communicate in a large staff environment, and people coming in later either didn’t have the skills or gave up on them because no one else has them. We have the culture of a small church where everyone knows everything, and nothing more really needs to be passed on. Unfortunately, we have a large staff (over 100) and most people don’t know all the people on staff much less what all their jobs are. More importantly most people don’t know what ripples are caused by the decisions they make. This is the real danger in a culture non-communication, people will do things that will make more work for other people without realizing it. This gets back to the church being a submarine. I know we are not the only ones who suffer from poor communication, or a culture of not communicating what tools/ solutions do you use to overcome this?
I use the analogy of a submarine to describe our church a lot, if you have ever watched a good submarine movie, and there are a TON, then this will make sense. On a submarine you have a lot of different departments who all work hand in hand with each other with little or no communication or overlap … and sometimes little or no appreciation for the other departments simply because each is so specialized. Not unlike some large churches including ours.
Now in every good sub movie at some point the captain will issue general commands which are repeated and interpreted by the department heads and reissued as specific orders to the department. While this communication is relatively small it is VITALLY important. At this point all the departments focus on their task and if they all do their job everything works out fine. Let me use an example; if the captain wants to turn the sub to the left… he says “turn left.” One department head repeats to the navigator so he can chart the course so they don’t crash, another repeats it to the helm so he can actually turn the boat, another repeats it to the engine room so they can get more power if needed, one might let the torpedo room know it’s just a regular turn not an evasive maneuver. What is impressive is in the movies this occurs with speed and precision that is unmatched by few things. Ok so how does that apply to the church, well what would happen in the movies f the captain went up and asked the helmsman to move and just grabbed the wheel and turned the sub. Answer … all kinda of bad things would happen. Sometimes THAT is what happens in our church. Someone (and almost everyone is guilty of this at some level) makes a decision that has broader reaching scope then their department, but fails to inform the other departments. Most of the time this is accidental, people just don’t realize the scope of something as simple as…. say, moving a chair (this will be important later). However, accidental or not the results are the same.
Perfect example this past weekend our Spritual Formations pastor asked ME if he could adjust his seat position on the stage further to the left, so as not to have his back to people. Being the video director I looked at the camera positions and said “sure we can still get you from there.” So he moved the chair, 20 minutes later we get to the point in the service where he is on stage, and talking, except he moved his chair …. right into darkness. I had focused on my department so much that I never considered the lighting guys might need to know how this little change was going to affect them. Now this was relatively harmless, I messed up I apologized and we got it fixed. However, this same mistake can happen on a VERY large scale and that is not harmless.
The cure for this is improved communication. We have a number of people coming on staff now out of corporate America. As a result they have this almost military like precision in their communication. Lucky for us they are coming into some key rolls, executive admin, facilities, and IT. These positions really make up some of the backbone of our church, so we are very fortunate to have them. I think we are already seeing some dividends being paid by having them here, and I for one look forward to us improving our communications across the board.
So to sum up I think the church should take a page out of the submariners handbook, and evaluate communications at all levels. I think you would be amazed how wide the effects of some simple decisions are. I just moved a chair… how bad could it be?
When I use the sub analogy I always compare it to being driven like a corvette. If you drive a sub like a corvette you are destine to crash into the rocks. If you try and drive your church like a corvette you are just as destine to crash it into the rocks.
This has been deep thoughts from a shallow christian