3 Things I Learned from a Christmas Eve Fiasco
It’s Christmas Eve. You’ve spent months planning and creating a media-rich experience for your church’s single most well-attended day of the year.
The team is regrouping in the green room after about 9 hours on their feet and three-of-five services completed with minimal hiccups. The front-of-house guy hustles into the room about 15 minutes before your fourth service is supposed to start, and you overhear him say something to the effect of, “we need to start talking about a plan B,” as he walks out of the room with the worship arts pastor.
There’s no sound coming out of the speakers. The PA has gone down.
“Fiasco” might be a strong word, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a church tech that doesn’t dread the possibility of this scenario. And it’s exactly what happened this past Christmas Eve at the church I attend—Watermark Community Church in Dallas.
I serve on the worship team, so I didn’t have a lot to offer in the way of a solution, so I just watched as the tech team snapped into action. Here are a few of the things I observed that I thought they did really well.
ALWAYS. BE. PREPARED.
Within about 20 minutes, the tech team had rigged a temporary PA using wedges and a mix from the monitor board. No, it wasn’t a perfect solution, but it allowed us to proceed with the service, still incorporating elements like music and a video that were important to the pastor’s message. And it delayed the start of the next service fewer than 10 minutes.
How did they turn around a solution so quickly? They had a backup plan in place. Once it was clear troubleshooting wasn’t offering a solution, they were able to swiftly transition to a “plan B” because they already had one. They didn’t have to spend time figuring out what to do because they already knew.
ADDRESS THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM.
This one might seem obvious, but sometimes, when things get awkward or go wrong, we tend to avoid acknowledging the awkwardness. It’s always better to “lean in” to the moment and call it what it is. The vulnerability of saying, “Sorry, guys. This wasn’t supposed to happen,” can actually do a lot to engage people with what’s happening on stage and diffuse tension.
Todd Wagner (the senior pastor) started the service by letting people know what was going on, and even took it one step further, by tying the mishap into his message.
SERVANT’S HEARTS + SKILL = WINNING.
As a musician, I’ve been in a lot of situations that felt like the tech team and the band were on opposing teams. I’ve also been in situations where I was the most knowledgable tech person in the room (NOT a good thing). It’s a huge blessing to serve on a team that has a culture of humility and service, but also an expectation of competency.
I already knew this about the Watermark team, but it was really cool to see it play out in this situation.
No one griped about having to drop what they were doing to haul gear across campus. It was a stressful situation, but no one got snippy or rude. After the service, there was supposed to be a break before the 11:00 pm service (the go-home-and-rest-for-a-couple-of-hours kind of break), and no one mysteriously disappeared while troubleshooting continued. There were even guys who were supposed to be “off” that showed up to help.
Have you ever been in a situation like this that was handled well (or not)? What would you say are other important things to consider in order to do it well? Let us know what you think in the comments below. (And if you want to know what the solution on Christmas Eve was, ask me there, too!)
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