The Art of Making Mistakes

Mistakes… Awkward.  And in a weekend service environment where everything is supposed to be smooth, worshipful, and not distracting, even more so… awkward. Those awkward moments will keep even the most even keeled Technical Director or Worship Pastor up at night thinking about what should have happened or what should have been done to prevent the mistake in the first place.  But as we aren’t perfect by nature, I think there are three very important things to think about when mistakes happen.

1. Mistakes never happen by themselves. What I mean by that is that there’s always something that leads up to the mistake. One of the most short sided thing a leader could say would be to blame it on the moment.  Maybe some of these sound familiar to you: “The battery just died”, “They were late”, “They didn’t do/say what they were supposed to”, or my favorite “The equipment just did it on its own”.   In all these situations once you step out of the moment, there’s always something that lead to mistake.

For instance “The battery just died”. What’s the process for changing batteries? Who’s thinking about changing batteries? Are we using the right batteries? Who’s double checking the batteries before every service for duds? If the batteries die, what’s the plan to replace the microphone or pack as quickly as possible?

What about “They were late”? What does your team culture dictate about being timely? Are you, yourself late from time to time?

“The equipment just did it on its own”. Do you know everything about the equipment? Are you taking good care of the equipment? What’s the maintenance procedures and time tables for the equipment? And the big one, what’s the back up for when technology inevitably fails?

As leaders in the church, it’s our responsibility to slow down after a mistake happens, and think critically about why it happened. Then move on to point number 2.

2. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.  We’ve all heard the famous quote. How often we forget the meaning. Mistakes are going to happen, what doesn’t have to happen is enduring the same mistake twice. It’s important to move from knowledge of how the mistake was made to action on preventing it in the future. You may not be able to fix the mistake in the moment, but you can take notes, learn, and make sure it never happens again.

3. Remember what its all about.  As church creatives who are naturally passionate about what we do, it’s always humbling to step back and remember why we do it. Sometimes I like to think that making mistakes is an important step in staying humble. Sometimes its a pleasant reminder that your still human, that this whole worship service is made up of a bunch of imperfect humans worshiping a perfect God.  And after the dust has settled over the most awkward moment, you as a church creative get to step back and say, it was never about the microphone, or the lights, or the “insert your mistake here”, it was always about the one we gathered to worship in the first place.

To end this, I’ll leave you with a video that at the time of me posting this has over 25k views. That’s 25k people like you and me, who have messed up in a church service once or twice, looking to the team that arguably does production and creativity the best in the world, and yes, they are humans too.