I recently read a great article by fellow author Mike Sessler (here) about the benefits of knowing the sound crews from other churches. It’s a sad fact but very few of us know much– if anything– about the congregations around us.
As Mike mentioned, there are a multitude of benefits of getting to know the neighbors. Be a kid again. Talk with them before you decide who they are. They might even let you play with their toys.
Why Do We Need Them?
If I can teach, let me teach. If I can learn, let me learn. If interaction with sheep outside my pasture benefits both my side of the fence and theirs, what’s the problem?
Offering a handshake may save your next system upgrade. Your fellow tech friends might know how to fix something in your system, and/or, you might be able to help with theirs. They might know the best AV contractor in town, you might know the worst. They might understand networked systems and you’re about to drop a fortune on a copper cabling infrastructure.
There are more benefits than just audio. They might have a lift like the one you’re always renting. You might have a portable system they need for an upcoming event. They might have a basement full of props and gear that needs a new home. You might offer overflow parking for their next event.
How Do We Do It?
Maybe rotate out one Sunday a month and visit another congregation. Don’t just get starstruck and head to the biggest show in town. Consider starting with the church down the road. Shake a few hands and learn a few names. They probably won’t bite.
We can never know whose life can change if someone doesn’t make the first move. My years working with Prison Fellowship allowed me a great opportunity to work side by side with sound crews from local churches across the country. We taught each other. We became brothers for a long season of life. Some of us still talk regularly.
We’ve kept each other motivated and enlarged our boundaries by becoming friends with people outside of our normal routines. Beyond the benefits in our personal lives and income, we’ve also introduced each other to a few clients.
Developing relationships opens the world up to us. It’s not much more complicated than taking opportunities to engage in conversations with strangers. Talk to the folks at the drive-through like you know them. Tip your waitress like your kids are friends. Act like you want to be a neighborly part of your community. Make friendliness a habit.
One great way to expand your world is checking out holiday events at the other houses of worship in the area. Pick one that doesn’t interfere with your own, obviously, but go see what the folks across town are doing.
You might walk into a production that opens up all kinds of new ideas. Maybe the ideas are cool on their own, or maybe they spur a new direction in your church.
You may also discover a team struggling in areas where you can help. For whatever shortcomings we may feel we have, the person next door might need something we understand. We’re missing opportunities to enlarge our circles of influence by not interacting.
Always remember to go in with some humility. No one likes it when someone wastes their coffee break with a story about how they install car stereos. Don’t barge into their world with stories of your own greatness. Get to know them first.
Some folks just click. It’s usually the ones who aren’t being pretentious and simply enjoy hanging out with birds of a similar feather. Take it back to the playground days one more time. That kid has a basketball. Maybe I want to play. It’s not cool to just take the ball. We need to talk first. If I’ve seen him play, I can find something to talk about.
Most events will have at least one or two elements that catch your attention. Maybe the crew found an innovative, inexpensive way to light the stage effectively. Maybe they pulled off some epic special effect. Maybe the sound was so good (or bad) that you feel compelled to introduce yourself.
Likewise, the easiest step towards a conversation with fellow techs is a compliment. Tell them how clean that lead vocal sounded. Tell them how tight the mix was. Say something that implies interest, understanding, and appreciation. Start there.
After listening to their replies, ask a question. Engage. Don’t go in with an agenda. Don’t make a plan. Don’t go to the mix position and do all of the talking. And when it’s the other team coming up as visitors in your house, don’t miss the opportunity. If they’re making the first move to speak to you, respect it.
If our understanding of audio and production is greater than that of our neighbors, let’s help them out. Who knows? You could be two driveways away from your future best friend and not even know it.