Team Culture

Team Culture

This weekend, Jed Walker, one of the pastors on staff at Milestone Church, used a Peter Drucker quote that I’m sure most of us have heard before that got me thinking about how a production team operates in a church.

Culture Eats Strategy Over BreakfastPeter Drucker

As an analytical person, by nature I tend to lean toward well thought out strategy.  I don’t particularly enjoy implementing something new unless it’s been thought through to some extent and a good strategy has been put in place.  That’s partly because I’ve been a technical director for so long that I’ve seen things go terribly wrong, live, in service, when things aren’t thought through and strategized.  So strategy is very important.  Let me say that again, strategy is very important.

However, Culture > Strategy.  Always.

As a Technical Director in a church, your church could have the best looking/sounding production around, but if the culture of your team, your production team, is not healthy and life giving then your days of being the best are numbered.  Often, I meet many Technical Directors that enjoy shouldering all of the weight of the team.  This usually comes out of a fear of volunteers not being able to do things as well as they can.  The problem is quite obvious – culture.  You will never succeed as a Technical Director by shouldering all the weight.  You can only get to where you want to go if you build culture on your team.

How is a great culture accomplished?  That’s a great question.  I would assert that the answer to that question has many different answer.  Each situation is different.  For us, it’s intentionally getting together with the team before services and checking on everyone and praying together.  On the off hours, checking in with one another to see if we can help each other.  Then every once in a while, getting together as a team to celebrate where we are and where we are going.  What I do know is that good culture is set intentionally.  No team stumbles across good culture.  It’s something that is developed and and done on purpose.

So, its for you to decide what good culture looks like for you and your production team.  But it’s up to you as a leader to intentionally walk down the road of good culture.

Lessons on Leadership – Tim Cook

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, recently did an hour long segment on the Charlie Rose show.  Here’s the link. Naturally, since the company just released it’s new flagship products, Tim does a bit of bragging on their products.  But after the first 10 minutes or so, Charlie starts to ask some different questions.  If you sit down and really watch the interview, there’s some great things to be learned.  Tim talks about everything from their executive team and how he likes to put that together, to company mistakes and how those come about.  He also talked about stepping into a legacy that was left from Steve Jobs.  First of all, just sitting and listening to the interview was fascinating to me in that it provided a candid look into Tim and how he thinks and operates.  To be CEO of one of the most successful companies (if not the most successful company) in America, you gotta know your stuff.  Tim obviously does in many areas.  I love learning, so here’s a few things I learned about leadership from part one of Tim’s interview.

  1. Mistakes don’t just happen, there are a lot of lead ups to mistakes.  Charlie asked Tim about the blundered maps application roll out.  Instead of trying to cover up the mistake, Tim blatantly said that they messed up.  He owned up to it almost personally.  And then he alluded to the overarching principle that rarely does a mistake ever just happen as an organization, but rather there are all these indicators that line up that allow the mistake to happen.
  2. Surround yourself with different thinkers.  Charlie asked him about his executive team and how they operate as they have recruited some new faces to the team (beats acquisition, new head of retail, etc).  Tim responded that his preference is to surround himself with people that think differently that he does.  He alludes to the fact that the similar culture has to be there in order for that to work. However, finding people that compliment you as a CEO (or leader) is really important to putting out great work.
  3. Be Yourself.  This one seems obvious enough, but when Charlie started asking questions about filling Steve Job’s shoes, Tim provided some information about the candid conversations he had with Steve before he passed away.  Even Steve recognized the fact that Tim was a different person than he was, but still thought he was the one for the job.  The obvious case and point being that he picked him to replace him as CEO.  But he encouraged him to make decisions not based on “what would Steve do”, but on what Tim thought was right.
Stage Backdrop Cheap

New Stage Backdrop On the Cheap

Most pastors would probably agree that when you preach on a subject, you often find yourself tested that week or soon there after on the same topic you just preached.  And then you have to ask yourself the question, am I going to practice what I preach?  A while back, I did a blog post on taking pictures during worship.  And the first point I made was that pictures will only look as good as the real set looks.  Soon after I wrote that post, I found myself taking pictures of one of our venues.  When I got back to the computer, the pictures were just blah.  It was very obvious to me at that point that the stage needed a overhaul.  So I decided to practice what I preach and deal with the problem head on.

Here’s the before picture.  I’m almost embarrassed to show this picture because of how unappealing it is.  But for the sake of transformation, you gotta see where it was to appreciate where it is now.

Old Stage Look

And here’s what it looks like now



So here’s what we did.  We used rolls of screen door material, we got it at home depot down the street, but you could probably find it cheaper online somewhere (link here).  The Screen material was $30 for a 4’x25′ roll. We used about 5-6 rolls.  Basically, you crinkle the screen material as much as you can (might recommend using gloves), attach the material to a pole, hang the poll (we hung with plastic chain from the I-beams in the ceiling), and put a weight at the bottom of the screen (for us that was another pole).  Altogether the project was simple, and only cost a few hundred bucks.  Granted, we already had the LED bars.  But look at the pictures again, and see how much more effective the LED bars are now that they are hitting a lighter reflected surface.

Here’s a picture without stage lighting on:



You can see the seams of the rolls when the stage lights aren’t on.  But we never host an event in that venue when the stage lights aren’t on, so that wasn’t a problem.  The result is a lot of mood setting color, the screens feel new as they pop much more, and the room itself feels like a new room.  We are quite pleased with the result and excited to see what it can do to the worship atmosphere of that room.

New Stage Design Cheap

Family United Sermon Series

Family United Sermon Series

The last graphic our previous designer Josh Tate (who now works at Niche) made for us at Northwood Church was for a sermon series called Family United.  The graphic is on the screen you see above.  I snapped a picture during service so you could see the EP, lighting, and backdrop that we chose to coincide with it.  There is one important thing to really look at when it comes to live IMAG:  Never let your background be brighter than your subject.  In this situation, blues and purples aren’t that bright of colors, so naturally they sit a bit darker.  But if you have to use colors like orange, yellow, or other “hot” colors, you might need to look at the levels at which those are lighting your background.  So if you go with hotter colors, look at dimming them down a bit so your subject really stands out.

Over All Sermon Series

Overall Sermon Series

I was able to work with West Wind Church, in Iowa, with a good friend of mine, Brent Minter, for this sermon series. They were moving into a book study of Colossians. So, Brent had a great idea of what they wanted for the series after meeting with his team. They had the title, the had the subtitle, and he really wanted to use the idea of clouds since Colossians to a large degree talks about God residing over everything. With that, I created the graphic you see above.

Then, when we moved to the bump, we wanted to do something a bit different. Their last bump was all graphically generated (think, no real pictures or videos, all graphic design based). So we wanted to go a different direction with this one, using real video and pictures to tell the story. I did some reading of Colossians and came up with this script:

We look at the Son
And see God’s purpose for everything
Absolutely everything
And below
And invisible
Everything finds its purpose in him
Over All

Based on this passage:

Colossians 1:15-18 We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

Brent loved it. He asked for one or two small adjustments, and the result is what you see below.