These are my notes from a talk I gave at our annual production volunteer celebration. We have an amazing team and I am honored to get to be the one to encourage them.
A couple of years ago I thought it would be great to make contact with the original TD for Willow Creek. After asking around, I got a hold of Rick Meredith, who still lives in the area. Here’s a picture of what production looked like back then.
While driving to Denny’s in Arlington Heights to have lunch with him, I kept imagining all the questions I was going to ask him and all the amazing answers he was going to give me.
In the early days, what were your original production values?
Where did the idea of excellence in production come from?
Did you sit down and come up with a mission statement?
Once we got to talking, I am not sure I was prepared for the simple answer he gave me to most of my questions. “My best friend and I decided that we should do some really cool stuff using production, and we figured if we were going to bother with it, it should be amazing.”
That’s it?! Just a couple of friends doing cool stuff together. Whatever.
Driving away from Denny’s that day, I was struck by how simple this seemed, and in many ways how it really hasn’t changed that much.
Many of us involved in production want to do something amazing and we want to do it in community with a group of like minded people.
I want to look briefly at the two different aspects of Rick’s idea: doing amazing work and doing it together.
First, the idea of doing amazing work.
There are tons of small parts that make up what we do in production here at Willow. It could be moving carpet blocks from one PL room to the next or maybe it is taping down a cable across a walkway. Maybe it is checking lighting cues before the program starts or perhaps it is counting every page of Bill’s message that goes by. The list could really go on and on. With so many different tasks of production to be done, each of us has a long list of unseen and unsung parts of our tasks that nobody will ever know about, yet make up the majority of what our team does.
If I stop long enough and look at all these tasks through the lens of “if we are going to do it, let it be amazing”, how does that change how I go about each one of these?
All of the little details we take care of in the unseen moments add up to what people see during our services. Whether it is in 392 or in the main auditorium, the sum of our small tasks create the overall experience for the people attending the program in your room. All of them matter.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – I Corinthians 15:58
Next time you are grabbing a prop from the cages or checking battery levels on the mics one more time, remember that your tenacity in these little details is not in vain. They are all necessary to help create life changing moments for people in our services. And if you are going to do production, do it amazingly. Don’t just go through the motions, kill it; do it with everything you have.
What would our team look like if we all took it up a notch? If we took every small detail more seriously? If we put the same level of importance on the smallest thing we do as the biggest thing?
Beyond that, what if we not only upped our game on things we already do, but we expanded our capacity? What if we each learned something new, stretched ourselves in some way?
What is one thing that you’ve wanted to learn, or have been challenged to learn that you could add to your skill set this year?
Let’s re-visit Rick’s maxim: “Let’s do something amazing, together.”
God has designed us to work in community. I have a hard time imagining anything more difficult. While doing production by yourself can be lonely, at least you know it is getting done the way you would do it. Involving other people creates more problems.
Let me give you an example. I became an only child in my twenties when my only brother died of cancer. Even before that, my family was pretty small, and now it is even smaller. There’s family drama, but because there aren’t many of us, it is minimal. My wife on the other hand comes from a family of 4 other siblings. When you compare our two families, the drama level is definitely higher on her side. Not because they are unique or different, just by shear numbers. When there are more people involved, there are more opportunities for misunderstanding, for differences of opinion, for arguments.
However, when relationships are right, there is more love, more people in your corner, more opportunities for you to be there for each other.
God, in His infinite wisdom decided to build his church on the model of the parts of the body. We are designed to work together. We need each other. We cannot do this without each of us showing up and using our gifts for the benefit of the whole.
This idea is part of what makes doing production in the local church so unique. We are called to love each other. On a normal production, it is not uncommon that everyone is fighting for their own territory. Yet Jesus gave us a commandment:
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
This is what separates us from the world. When people look at your serving team, they will see Christ, not necessarily by the product of all your hard work in the details, as much as how we treat each other.
What does it look like to love one another? That sounds very non-technical. Fortunately the apostle Paul elaborated on it in Galatians:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
When you think about the people you get to work with when you serve here, do you treat them with love? Do you exhibit the fruit of the spirit when you are serving? How are you treating your fellow production team members? Your programming counterparts?
What would our teams look like, what would our church look like, if we were known for doing amazing work while loving each other and expressing the fruit of the Spirit?
Could you imagine for a minute if our team was known for the love we show each other? That no team exhibits the fruit of the spirit more than the production team?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but lately it seems like God is moving at our church. More baptisms, more people getting connected in sections, our next gen ministries growing and expanding. Most of what our church does requires involvement by production, which is us.
As the ministry of our church expands and grows, it will require more production. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be the limiting factor in the growth of our church.
If each of us were to stretch ourselves and learn a new skill this year, we will help expand the possibilities for our church. If each of us works on one fruit of the spirit, so that our teams work more effectively together, the ministry of our church can continue to expand.