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What Makes for a Good Multimedia Team Member?
By: Jason Moore

Unlike today's modern runways, the Wright Flier didn't take off from a smooth paved surface. Before the first flight test took place, Wilbur and Orville worked in the bitter cold to lay 100 feet of track on a smooth stretch of ground.

They meticulously measured the wind velocity and compared it to the data they'd been collecting for years in wind tunnel and practical glider tests. All this was done in preparation for what they hoped would be a successful run.

Though they probably didn't call it such, what they were creating was the first "flight plan." With a pre-flight checklist in place and a theoretical system for landing the plane devised, they felt comfortable moving forward.

Had the track been haphazardly laid, or the wind speed not been measured, they could have very likely failed. Many pieces needed to be in place to make the first flight possible.

The same is true with worship design teamwork. Putting the team in a position to fly takes much preparation and care.

Before entering ordained ministry, the father of my business partner was an infantry officer who served two tours in Vietnam. One of his favorite sayings is, "Mistakes in deployment cannot be overcome."

In other words, many teams fail at the start because of bad choices made at the outset about who its members are.

What are some of the characteristics of good worship design team members? Consider the following and choose wisely.

Plugged In
Do you know any digital thinkers? No, I don't mean people who think in binary code. Rather, who do you know that could be a spokesperson for what's current in culture? These sorts of people are the kinds that follow the latest Web trends such as social networking.

They like to go to new releases at the movie theater. They seem to know a little bit about anything that's current. They're the kind of person that dives into a new piece of software without timidly trying to read the manual first.

These sorts of people are comfortable with new trends. They are less likely to suggest something just because it's been done before, and more likely to push envelopes of creativity, technology, and innovation. In our experience, they are invaluable in their ability to add fresh ideas.

Lots of Young People
Young people are great. We know; we used to be young people! Seriously, young people bring an enthusiasm and eagerness to do what's fresh. They're more likely to be free of the sorts of constraints that prevent new and creative thinking around worship design.

Young people, due to their lack of experience, are also more likely to try something unusual. They haven't been told often enough, maybe, that such an approach is a bad idea. We like to say that young people are willing to beat against the wall until it falls over.

Older people can get tired of swinging. As Warren Bennis notes, "They don't yet know what they can't do. Indeed, they're not sure the impossible exists."

In some churches we've visited, the 50-year-old secretary is the young person of the church. If that's what you've got to work with, then go for it. Young is relative.

More Generalists than Specialists
The initial inclination may be to find the best specialist around, such as the savviest sound engineer, the best musician, or the coolest graphic artist.

This may not be the ideal approach. Rather than filling the team with specialists that only speak to one area, it's better to look for generalists.

Specialists may stay silent when discussing areas outside of their expertise; generalists know a little bit about many different fields and are more likely to comment on the general topic in a meeting, even if it isn't "their area."

This is vital to team collaboration. Having each specialist inform the team of his or her individual decisions on a particular service is not team planning at all. A church could handle that by e-mail.

It is imperative that within each area of design, such as the musical selections, that everyone on the team be able with some degree of knowledge to contribute to the discussion.

This is the power of team planning that, exponentially, ideas emerge that wouldn't have been considered alone. Later, team members can take on specific roles within the planning process as their gifts apply.

Jason Moore is the co-founder of Midnight Oil Productions, www.midnightoilproductions.com.

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