There seems to be a teeter-totter in the world of production that tips between being flexible and being rigid. Most shows and concerts that I go and see fall into more of a scripted version of production. Weeks or months of planning, multiple rehearsals, a few concerts in front of a test audience, until finally, one day, the show actually happens; then it happens the same way over and over again. What you get is a predictable, reproducible experience for people in city after city. I go to one of these shows and drool over the precision achieved to create moment after moment.
Why do I drool? Most of us working in the world of church production know why. We very rarely have the luxury of tweaking something to that level of detail, to get the chance to live with something long enough to figure out what is working and what isn’t. Usually, by the time we’ve learned that information, it is time to move on to the next event.
In our own services, we can also be dealing with this idea of the “Spirit moving”; trying to be open to what God might want to do in our services and following it. This is great, except we need to have some level of planning in order for the production not to be totally distracting to what is trying to happen in the service.
Because of this, we do sound checks, mark locations on the stage for lighting to focus on, and have accurate scripts for the video team to follow. The question for me at any given moment is where do we strike the balance between being flexible and being pre-planned?
The answer is obvious…it all depends. Each element we do, each moment in the service requires us to look at the teeter-totter and decide what matters the most. If it were all up to most production people, the rigid side would sit way back and force the teeter-totter down.
For our services to be successful, we need to learn the art of shifting our weight forward and back; sometimes leaning into something, sometimes sitting back. Give and take; pushing for a plan one moment, flying by the seat of our pants the next.