Curt Taipale over at Church Soundcheck asked a question this week about best practices for broadcast church services. With the proliferation of IMAG in worship services, I'm sure there are a LOT of churches thinking about dipping a toe in the broadcast pool. So, let's chat about it a bit.
First, I think there are a lot of churches that SHOULD look at broadcast. But, there are many, many more who should run away screaming when someone suggests "getting on TV."
A bit of background. First Church has been a broadcast church for 35 years. We've only been producing our broadcast in house for about 2 and a half years. Prior to December of 2005, we contracted with a local television station for both time and production services.
In late 2005, we finished construction of a great facility, and began doing all of our production in house. Our team is primarily volunteer. I lead a department with two staff, and a team of about 25 volunteers who are responsible for getting us on TV each week. Oh, and did I mention that we're live? Yep. No editing here baby. Live and in living color, on the local ABC affiliate, and statewide on cable.
So with that said, what about best practices. I use the initials P.C.E. when talking about it.
Plan. Communicate. Evaluate. Learn it. Live it.
In any production environment, but particularly in broadcast, planning equals success in providing a quality worship experience over television. You can't fly by the seat of your pants.
I once worked with a church, and after a time, remarked that everyone involved was TOO talented. We could walk into the building at 10:00, having done nothing to plan, and do a good service. The music guy was that good. The pastor was that good. The media guy and sound folks could make it happen. It was good. But they had the potential to be great, to create amazing experiences. They still aren't doing that, unfortunately.
Want to go on TV? Each and every element of the service is timed, to the second, in advance. Participants keep to their times. Going long is NOT permitted. Each and every transition is talked through, and in most cases, choreographed and even rehearsed
Yes, I know, have participated in, and get bored pretty quickly with the old "that kind of planning kills the spirit" argument. It's just bull. People who don't want to spend the time in planning either haven't ever done it well and don't know the difference, or are just lazy.
During the production cycle, any change is communicated quickly and broadly. No one makes decisions in a vacuum.
And, when it's over, evaluate critically. Plan to spend time WEEKLY with every single person involved in the service, reviewing the video. You can't improve unless you are evaluating your work. In the best case, this is mandatory, and there is permission to be critical around the table. LOOK for problems. Look for areas that can improve. Actively make critical evaluations that will lead to better services, and better broadcast.
Plan. Communicate. Evaluate. In reading over this post, it's more about production planning than anything else. But in the world of broadcast, it applies just that much more. More thoughts later.