Create an environment that helps people engage in worship and the Word of God. This is the task for production teams in large churches around the world. Everyone connects in different ways, and something that might help one person engage might be a distraction to someone else. No matter what we do, there will always be someone who doesn’t like at least one aspect of the services that we produce. To some people it probably even sounds weird to hear that we “produce” services. I’ll touch on that shortly.
Think about the last concert you went to. Do you remember the bright lights that were aimed at you and the crowd? I have some lights like that at our church, and I love to watch the congregation in worship when I bring them up. From upstairs in our production suite, I see more hands raised and I can hear the collective voice of the congregation grow louder. From my perspective, people are engaging more and focusing their attention on The One they are worshipping rather than the ones leading them in song.
I tend to only use those lights on special weekends and all worship nights, and there is a reason for that. On any given weekend, there is a number of first time visitors who are already overwhelmed by the size of our church (specifically the Wexford campus). To have bright lights blasted at them in the midst of their other senses being overloaded can be a little bit too much. There are other people who come from a more conservative worship background. They tend to connect more in the quiet moments of a hymn rather than the new choruses that we sing. Bright lights aimed at them can be another sticking point for them that pulls them out of the moment that we are trying to enhance.
The delicate balance between using technology to help people engage in worship and going overboard to turn people off can be compared to relationships in leadership. Some people respond well to pushing and prodding to encourage them to do better. Others are more likely to respond to an encouraging word or note, and others still would rather be left alone because they already recognize where they need to improve. Everyone responds differently to the same stimuli, so it is important to really get to know the people you lead. When you understand what helps your volunteers and/or employees engage, you can be a better leader to them. The productivity of a team is directly connected to its leadership.
Back to the “production” of services, because I know that some of you were thrown for a loop by that. Let me start by saying that we are still led by the Spirit. We don’t produce services to manufacture feelings that look like The Spirit is moving. We produce our services to create environments where people can feel free to worship and connect with God. The Spirit can and does move in small churches that don’t have lights and drums because the people there are open to Him. We just try to help people open up to The Spirit through the environments that we create. It’s meant to help people connect to God, not manipulate their feelings.