In a previous blog, “If it’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium,” we discussed the crazy culture that can emerge in a ministry that is in full production mode. This time of year, many Worship and Music ministries are planning for a special event – the special Christmas event is often one of the biggest outreach efforts into the communities where we live. These presentations are important. And because of their significance, they can easily dominate the church’s budget, calendar, facility, and people resources for the last four months of the year.
A great deal of thought and preparation needs to go into the plan to insure balance and to maintain a healthy community of faith – not to mention to protect the health of the families we serve.
Here are three ways to insure your production culture is a healthy one as you move into this busy time of the year:
- Plan Rehearsals – Don’t “Call” Them
In the same rehearsal you pass out the music, pass out the rehearsal schedule all the way to the presentation. I always started this process with a number in mind because I had a strong idea of how many rehearsals, and what type of rehearsals, we needed.
If your people can plan for rehearsals ahead of time, they can protect their family in the process.
- Slice and Dice
Take the extra time to narrow down who should be in each rehearsal and involve only them. The “cardinal sin” of ministry leaders is wasting your people’s time. So, take extra precaution against rehearsals where anyone is waiting and watching. I would divide it like this – Cast Only, Choir Only, Orchestra/Band Only, Soloists Only, Tech Crew Only, or any combination that I would need. But, I would never have the instrumentalists sitting there while I worked the alto part or have the choir hung up while we were reviewing the drama part.
Rehearsals should be well-planned and executed – and you should NEVER have a rehearsal that goes past 2 hours unless it is scheduled ahead of time and extra preparation for maximum affect is taken.
- Start Early with Intensity and Taper at the End
If you start in late September for an early December extravaganza, you already have built in chaos. Start early – as early as possible – and start with intensity. It was always my goal to launch our production plans in early August… with a flurry. Of course, that required our production team to plan way ahead to be ready for an August launch.
Maybe kick things off with a retreat (doesn’t have to be off-site) that includes a fun activity. Do your intense rehearsals and extra rehearsals in September and October. And, as you approach the presentation, reduce your frequency. A single rehearsal the week of the performance would be ideal and not the night before.
I’ve seen ministries rehearse their people every night of the performance week in a chaotic blur. You will not have the best your people can give when you do it that way – and their families will suffer as well as other ministries in the church.
There is much more I could add. I look back on my early years of ministry and regret that I didn’t take this approach earlier. If you can make some of these adjustments now, maybe you can avoid some of the burnout that many suffer when they get into a production mode of misery year after year.
Let me hear your thoughts and ideas!
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family. Mike can be found on Twitter @MikeHarlandLW and on facebook.com/Mike.Harland.37.