It is again that time of year, time to pull out all of the stops: Hire a horn section, rent live animals, upgrade the lighting, get additional wireless units and put together a Christmas production with enough bang to wow our congregation while telling the story of Christmas.
Or is it? The economy is still in a state of flux, which has affected most houses of worship, causing us all to reevaluate our priorities. The less-is-more concept, of which I am a big fan in many situations, is being forced on some of us as we head into this celebratory time of year.
From my perspective, gained from 10-plus years working at a HOW, the past 18 months have been the hardest financial times for us ever. Our benevolence fund has seen more action as people are getting laid off from their jobs and trying to make ends meet. It has forced me to take a step back and look at what is really important. The latest microphone, processor, or other gear loses its appeal when there are those in our congregation who are challenged just to make their house payment or keep food on the table.
This is not to say that we throw our budget out the window and don't move forward. Audio is critical to all HOW; I have yet to go into one that didn't utilize the basic essentials of sound reinforcement gear. For those like me, improving upon those essentials is our job. But now, where we might have once thrown money at a problem, we are challenged to be more creative, to think through viable solutions.
Looking forward to 2010, no one really knows what is in store for giving and attendance. Naturally, some would like to get back to the glory days of plentiful giving, expanded staff, and new gadgets. And I'll admit it: a new digital board for FOH would be nice — really nice. I can argue why it is necessary: instant recall for the worship teams; less setup time; built-in digital signal processing; integration for the new in-ear headphone system that we will also buy — and wait, I should stop here, as I'm starting to get misty.
As much I would like to prove this point, the bottom line is that our trusty 48-channel K2 will get us by for another year. And honestly, I don't want to skip through this season without learning how to do less with more, for I know whoever is faithful in the little will be trusted with more. With that in mind, I will be proactive in greasing the wheels for a new console in 2011.
We Need Each Other
Throughout 2009, my connections made with other HOW-based media and audio personnel was very much worth the time invested, and those who I was in contact with were also thankful to talk shop with someone who knew the lingo. One particular instance was a cold call to a local HOW to inquire about some audio-based things they were doing. The engineer I spoke with was pleasantly surprised to get the call and voiced how we (the local HOW AV community) need to reach out to each other more often. Audio in HOW is different from any other arena once you get past the technical data: relationships, personnel, lines of authority (and who is actually in authority) are just a few areas that make us unique. I will be intentional about expanding my communication with others in my area even more in 2010. To quote The Byrds (who quoted ), there is "a time to plant, a time to reap." We are all living in one of those two times. Live it wisely and live it gleaning from and investing in others. We all have things to learn, and whether you know it or not, we all have things to offer each other.
May your Christmas services — regardless of how high and lofty the production — offer a glimmer of hope for those who need it most this season; may they hear that message clearly. May we all gain perspective during these times, for the times they are a-changin.'
Dan Wothke is the media director for Belmont Church in Nashville. He welcomes your comments firstname.lastname@example.org.