Practice, Practice, Practice

What’s the difference between “that worked really well” and “I wonder why that didn’t work?”

Practice. Plain old, simple rehearsal.

I am often surprised when I see people throw something together, sometimes very complicated somethings, and then not bother to test them. I know that it takes an extra 15 minutes or so to get everyone on point and run through it, but the risk is too great.

Practicing does two things: It helps an operator get familiar with the pattern and timing of execution and it requires you to know that everything is working technically.

The year after 9-11 I was serving at First Baptist West Monroe. we had planned a major memorial service. We had created quite a bit of video, some of which had what I thought was difficult switches. (Today I would not be consider them hard, but back then, with that gear, I was nervous.)

We had just upgraded video switchers, which was great because it allowed us to do some great things and terrible because I was not yet familiar with the controls. I spent over an hour practicing the transitions in and out of the video elements.

The result was a near flawless execution of video playback during the service. not because I am that good, but because of rehearsal.

For the Singing Christmas Trees every year we have multiple run through with full tech systems. It is during these run throughs that we discover the issues and fix them. This strand of lights is out. That midi cable is bad. Those microphones have issues. Even, the transition from this scene to that one is too quick to complete the microphone swap.

These issues are identified and then fixed before opening night. We do sometimes have issues during presentations, but not for lack of practice.

But even for small, seemingly simple things taking the time to rehearse can mean the difference between success and failure. Test that video signal with audio, from the actual source you will be using even if it’s not the actual video. Run the transitions and make sure everything fires. Turn on the lights and make sure they don’t wash out that projection screen.

Testing, rehearsal, or practice can make the difference between successfully using technology in ministry or causing a preventable distraction.