(This is just one in a several year series of posts about technology failures. Feel free to read more from the series page.)
The more technology you, the more points of failure there are, and the more things you “have to have” in order to have church.
This mantra proved itself at our last mid-week service when our new sound board decided to stop working. This is a raw story–we just shipped it back to the manufacturer yesterday–so I may not have a great perceptive yet, but I’ve already learned some lessons and have come face to face with some wonderful evidence of institutional learning from past failures.
With that, let’s get to the story and then the lessons.
On Wednesday nights, we have what we call “Cornerstone University.” Like most churches, our mid week programming is composed of classes for adults, but these classes are topic-based, not age-specific, and they rotate every few weeks. However, before we got to class, we start with some acoustic worship in our sanctuary. Now, I say “acoustic,” but you know that means we have at least two people singing into microphones and an acoustic guitar.
So, you can imagine my panic when our new sound board wouldn’t turn on.
It wouldn’t turn on!
That lead to a very frustrating series of events that saw me go through two more sound boards before I found one that would work and prompted a small bit of tension between me and my pastor. Not a good night.
In the end, we got it to work, but it was not an easy time, and I’d like to spare you from this. Thus, here are three easy takeaways that will hopefully help you avoid a similar situation.
1) Calm down and get perspective.
I panicked. Seriously. My anxiety level went through the roof, and I got angry. At whom? No idea. I was just mad. “Why tonight? Why me?” That’s the level of maturity that I’m getting at: whiny.
So, instead of calming down and weighing my options, I freaked out and mad a manageable problem way worse.
Learn from me. Take a breath. Tell a joke. Count your blessings. Say a prayer. Anything to keep calm.
2) Communicate the non-negotiables.
So, I said that my pastor and I had some tension. Again, I was the issue. Rather than let him fully communicate what had to happen–full sound reinforcement for the whole service–and what wasn’t acceptable–no sound or even partial sound. Instead, I was working from a mistaken pre-conceived notion, and I couldn’t get it out of my head in order to fully understand what my pastor was saying.
You can’t move on to a solution until you know what the expectations of those whom you are serving. Listen carefully, pay attention, and figure out what what has to happen.
3) Make your best move your first move.
After all of those mistakes, I managed to make one more: I took the easy way out. I went for a small, simple sound board that we only ever use for one microphone and an iPod. Because I hadn’t properly understand what my pastor felt like we needed for the service, I wasted valuable time.
But then, I wasted more, choosing to grab a sound board that I knew probably wasn’t my best choice, though I thought it was the easiest. Once again, however, I was wrong. This board wouldn’t even work, so I had wasted another ten minutes. Finally, I grabbed the proper sound board for the job, the board that is now being used to run sound in the auditorium while our main one is getting fixed.
Had I just asked myself which sound board was going to be a) appropriate for the task and b) most reliable, I could have had the whole thing set up and ready an easy twenty minutes earlier.
Failure can happen at any time, especially high stress times like around the holidays. Please remember to calm down, to figure what has to happen, and then skip through the shortcuts to the best solution.