I’ve been avoiding writing about the role of a sound technician (or audio engineer) for a long time… mostly because I am a sound technician and I don’t want to come off as self-important. Forgive me if I convey those kinds of implications. That is not my intention.

Your sound technician is extremely important to your church (how’s that for humility?). Your sound technician has a rare power to completely shut down the progress of a worship service. He (I’ll use the male pronoun here because I am drawing from personal experiences. I fully recognize that woman could just as easily be a successful sound tech.) has a hand in every single thing that goes on during the service. In most churches the sound tech is rarely (or never) allowed to take sick days or vacations. This is because there is usually not a second person at your church that can operate the sound board.

In the most basic form, your sound tech allows everyone in the service to hear everything that is going on. However, if they embrace their job as bigger than that, they can potentially be a serious part of the artistic composition of the worship service.

A good sound technician is hard to come by, especially for what a church is willing to pay. If 90% of your worship services do not have a noticeable sound issue (mic clips, feedback, video without audio) you are extremely lucky.

Tell your audio engineer that they are doing a great job. It will be a pleasant break from hearing “the drums are too loud” over and over and over and over.

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A lot of people do really annoying things on Twitter. Here is a fun little list of things you can do on Twitter that will result in me un-following you:

  • Foursquare updates. There are two people in this world that I have a desire to know the whereabouts of at all times: my son and my wife. Please don’t let me know that you checked in at the Taco Palace on 98th St. and that you earned the “I can’t stop eating quesadillas” badge.
  • Asking questions that have the sole purpose of generating “@” replies. For instance: “Who is your favorite Jersey Shore cast member?” or “If you could have lunch with one character from the Bible who would it be?” Some people will fall for your trap. However, more people than you know realize that you are just trying to create traffic.
  • Not replying to my “@” replies. If I take the time to engage you in a conversation on Twitter, please have the respect for me to answer me when I ask you a question. I don’t care how many followers you have. This is especially annoying when I see that you took the time to reply to other people who say things like “@dudebro18 You are so awesome and handsome! I just can’t get over how awesome and handsome you are!”
  • Constantly posting about mundane activities. I’m ok with the occasional “I had this really great pile of tasty squirrel meat for dinner tonight.”… but I don’t need a play by play.
  • Making boring announcements. This one is difficult to deal with, especially for churches. You have to take the time to creatively say things. “Come to the men’s group tonight at 6pm in the Fellowship Hall” is not an interesting tweet. “The men have cooked up a great pile of tasty squirrel meat. They will be consuming it with their bare hands at 6pm tonight.” is a little better. I regularly do a bad job with this one.
  • Constantly re-tweeting. If all you can do is pass along other peoples’ ideas, you probably shouldn’t be using Twitter. Once again, re-tweets are ok from time to time… just don’t make it your only form of communication. This is especially annoying when you follow a bunch of Christians. They all re-tweet the same people. When Donald Miller tweets about how great his poop was this morning I hear about it from 45 people.

Pastors like to put off a vibe that makes you think that they have everything under control. Sometimes they do it knowingly, but I would assume that it was probably ingrained in them from the beginnings of their seminary education. I know that pastors aren’t the only ones that do this, but there is a definite tendency when you are in pastoral leadership to gloss over the truth of their sinfulness.

There is something that I want all pastors (especially older pastors) to understand about younger generations. We don’t want you to have it all together. We don’t want you to keep implying that your greatest sin is overeating and occasionally speeding. We want you to be honest. We want you to say that you struggle. We want you to say that you are daily tempted with the same sins that we are tempted with.

We want a leader that is willing to stand up under the weight of self-preservation and apologize when they are wrong. We want a leader that is willing to exemplify the saving grace of Jesus through their own transgressions.

Who would decide that they need to get out of their adultery or stop making money their idol or stop hitting their kids because of an illustration about going 51mph in a 45mph zone?

Let’s get real with ourselves and our congregations.

Sometimes when you are online you think about clicking on something you aren’t supposed to click on. Sometimes you wish evil on people that hurt your feelings. Sometimes when you look at a young, unmarried mom you first think about what she did to get herself in that situation rather than seeing her through the graceful, redemptive, loving eyes of Jesus.

I know you do that stuff… because I do it too.

You see, the younger generations have grown up in a world saturated with church scandal. We’ve heard about pedophile Catholic priests and self-loathing gay-bashers that are secretly entertaining male prostitutes since we could tie our own shoes. We don’t want to put you on the same destructive pedestals of idolatry that those leaders stood upon.

We want you to be honest about your struggles lest you fall into the same snares of temptation of those that have brought shame to the name of God. We are desperate for an honest leader that cares enough about his followers to develop an atmosphere of honesty and regular confession.

We want you to live the debilitating struggle and hardship of an honest Christian life publically so that we can look to your example when we are inevitably tempted to choose the eternal pain of hell over the beauty and freedom of the resurrected Christ.

I’m currently transitioning from being part of the communications team at a church of 1,000 in the Bible Belt to being a part of a brand new church plant of 100 in Boston. I’m really interested in seeing how this new scenario shapes my thoughts in this blog.

I have a friend who posts the most obnoxious stuff on Facebook. It’s worse than chain posts… it’s worse than Farmville. He constantly posts “deep” philosophical thoughts in order to create a conversation. He says things like:

What if for every element of the human condition there is a seprate (sic) individual and equally unified plane of the universe; for every universe there are infinite universes; and this infinite is what you all call god?

(I’m gambling and assuming that he isn’t going to read this blog post since he is neither a Christian nor interested in communications strategies)

He will post stuff like that and receive up to 50 or 60 comments from people engaging in a conversation about the thing he said.

I don’t see anything wrong with people using the internet to create discussions. The things he posts annoy me, but ultimately I support the idea of what he is doing. However, I got to thinking about something.

The internet has created an opportunity for anyone (and I mean anyone) to publish their ideas and potentially create a following. Their ideas don’t have to be logical, lucid, or even coherent. All they have to do is write whatever pops up into their head and take themselves too seriously.  

20 years ago these people would go unheard because book publishers would never give them the time of day. Now, thanks to social media, people can create a following and set up little, individual community based around their ideas.

So, now we have millions of little, personal, social media shrines dedicated to the ideas of millions of different people.

The internet has made it easier than ever to make ourselves gods.

Don’t give up… no matter how much  you want to.

I think that I’ve learned all I need to learn about church communications.

That may sound arrogant, but let me explain.

I’ve figured something out that a lot of you may have already figured out. It seemed like such an astounding revelation to me at the time, but looking back it seemed so obvious.

Here goes…

Having a church communication strategy doesn’t matter. Having an effective social media presence doesn’t matter. Having good graphic design doesn’t matter.

At this point I’m sure you are asking yourself: “but aren’t those things the whole point of your blog? Where are you going with this?”

Here’s where I’m going…

There are things you are doing with your church communication that are distracting from the message from Christ. Sometimes this could be bad graphic design. Sometimes this could be cheesy, therapeutic slogans on your church’s sign. Sometimes this could be a website that gives no one the information that they need.

But there are other things you are doing that are distracting from the message of Christ. Your great web design might be distracting from the gospel. Your engaging social media presence may be taking people’s attention from Christ. Your perfect adherence to every single thing you’ve ever learned from Kem Meyer could even be taking away from letting God do His will in your church.

What I’m saying is that sometimes doing things well is just as destructive as doing things poorly. What I’m saying is that when the quality of our performance is more important than pointing people toward a life-changing relationship with Christ, we are doing far more damage than if we allow Papyrus to grace the pages of our newsletter.

When we are on our faces praying and fasting and begging God to do his will in our lives it doesn’t matter how nice our facilities are, how creative our worship is, or how often our pastors blog.

Consider the following words about the church of Acts from David Platt’s book Radical:

I see a small band of timid disciples huddled together in an upper room. They know they need God’s power…

…This is the group that the spread of Christianity depends on. So what are they doing? They are not plotting strategies. They are “joined together constantly in prayer”. They are not busy putting their faith in themselves or relying on themselves. They are pleading for the power of God, and they are confident that they are not going to accomplish anything without his provision.

As you know from the story of Acts 2 3,000 people are brought to Christ in one day.

How is that for a church growth strategy? Pray and seek God and trust Him.