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Media vs Ministry: the Thursday Bomb

The following article is re-posted with permission from Tim Allen. Tim has spent several years creating media and motion graphics in the local church. He owns Tribal Iris, a post-production and finishing company. He lives in AZ with his wife and son. Find other great articles like this at www.shrinkthechurch.com.

I have said for a while now that media and ministry have a hard time working together. That is not to say that they can’t, or that they shouldn’t. It’s just difficult.

On one hand, ministry can be very spontaneous and last minute. God can move just before a gathering or event, and it’s off on another direction. I think that’s great, even ideal in some cases.

Media on the other hand is not last minute. A designer might be able to slam a logo together, but then there’s formatting, and printing and any kind of supplemental content that goes along with that. Then you bring video in the mix: scheduling, equipment needs, shooting, and the post work. Rendering can take hours – or days – all by itself. A recipe for disaster.

There’s not a lot you can do avoid certain circumstances, but there are ways to lessen the toll they may take to those involved.

Here is what I will say to the pastors out there:

Please, please say what’s on your heart. Don’t think you’re going to hurt our feelings because you’re not going to use our work. The roll of a creative team is to provide support and supplemental content to your message. So the message comes first. But here’s what I will ask. Respect our time, our families and our talents. If you walk in on Thursday (assuming your work week is Sunday – Thursday) and change everything, that is fine. Just don’t expect your team to be to produce the same caliber of material – if by then they can produce anything at all – that is custom-tailored for that message. If the media was that important to the message, I think God might have told you sooner, or spoken directly to the creative team as well.

I realize there are moments in every ministry where sometimes a sacrifice is asked of us, and we have to go above and beyond. That’s cool. But it can’t be the norm. You can’t play the “ministry” card every time you want to change your mind. Respect your creatives’ time, and give them room to breathe. Then when you really, really do need to ask them to go the extra mile it won’t feel like such an unreasonable ask.

To all you creatives out there:

Don’t get frustrated that the content has changed. Be grateful that you have a leader who is sensitive to what God wants to say in that moment.  It are moments like these that amazing things often happen, and you should be able to provide what support you can.

Here is a possible solution: create a couple different design packages around your church identity. Make sure these elements are fully produced in the event of a “Thursday Bomb”. This is especially helpful for you video + motion graphics guys. Have something on standby that can fill in that gap and allows for consistency without you having to kill yourself every time these things happen.  Pastors and leaders, give your team the time they need (in addition to their normal weekly tasks) to put these backup, standardized media kits together. It may not seem important right now, but trust me the day will come when you will be glad you have – or wish you had – these elements on standby.

Media and ministry have a tough relationship. However, if we take the time to understand each perspective – and respect what is involved on both sides – the process to get through the tough moments will no longer be stressful, but could prove to birth some of the most powerful moments in your ministry. Pastors will not longer get frustrated with missed expectations or a lack of consistency, but will value their creative team’s preparedness and the support they provide. Creatives will no longer be frustrated with unrealistic expectations and feeling like their time is not valued, but will grow to respect their pastor’s spontaneity and sensitivity toward what God is trying to accomplish in their ministry.

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