I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve learned a thing or two about how the church functions. I am very aware of the constant tug between the lead speaker and the creative arts team when it comes to planning ahead.
The creative arts team says, “We have to plan more in advance if we want to really do some good stuff.” While the lead speaker says, “I need the freedom and flexibility to change my message at the last minute.” Or, “I want to come up with the ideas and speak on them within a few weeks of each other when I’m still excited about the topics.”
So, who’s right?
They are both right, and they are both wrong. The creative arts team does need significant lead time on song selection and many other creative elements. But if they had it their way, everything would be completely done and on paper for a year and there would be no flexibility to tweak anything as the world changes around the church. In other words, too much planning ahead can equal a lack of flexibility. That’s not good.
The lead speaker, on the other hand, does need to be excited about the topic in order to deliver the message with excellence. Depending on the person, getting and staying excited about a topic might mean not planning too much in advance. I’ve seen it before. “Six months ago during a brainstorming session I was really excited about this topic, but now (six months later) I wish I had never brought it up!”
The reality is the lead speaker and creative arts team have to work together to establish the best process possible given the gifts of the people involved and the level of excellence desired. Depending on the service element, the creative arts team needs the lead time required to get the job done with excellence. For example, an all-volunteer music ministry (made up of people with full-time jobs) needs more time to learn the music and practice than a paid band needs to perform with the required (and expected) excellence. If the required lead time is not provided, a lower level of excellence will be the result … like it or not. If the creative element is a video or drama, obviously much more lead time is required.
The lead speaker needs to work on planning ahead and sticking to the plan once it’s established. But, sometimes (for whatever reason) needs the flexibility to tweak or even completely change the plan. The creative arts team needs enough lead time to produce services that inspire attendees. But, they can’t be so rigid that they can’t tweak or even completely change the plan when needed.
So, I say establish a formal process that works and that everyone understands. And then, work to continuously reduce the amount of lead time required to get the job done. The lead speaker continuously works to plan more ahead and the creative arts team works to be more flexible. As with every other area of the church (and just about any business), once the process is established revision B (an improved process) should never be far behind.