By Gary Zandstra
Sometimes the best lessons we learn are those which we draw from parallel situations.
Having said that, I’d like to tell you a little story. Stay with me, because I promise this all comes full circle in the end.
About five years ago, as I was planning a city-wide event to honor World War II veterans, our city mayor shared with me a concept which has been rumbling around in my head ever since.
Of course, there’s a lot of room for it to rumble…so take that for what it’s worth…
The concept is simple, but significantly changed the planning for the event and made a tremendous impact on its success.
This event was being held because the company I work for opened right after World War II. To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the war, the owner of our parent company asked me to throw a party for the city as a celebration.
It didn’t take but a few seconds for me to start to honor those of the “greatest generation” that served our country.
Early in the process, I asked the mayor to be on an informal committee for the event. He is a retired high school history teacher, so I knew he would be not only a great advocate for the event, but would also have a great historical perspective.
The mayor not only provided that, but also suggested and recruited some WWII veterans as wellas local people who experienced the end of the war (Victory in Japan or "VJ" Day) here in town.
Those “eyewitnesses” helped shape the three-day event, which included many of the same elements of the original celebration.
The mayor influenced the event in other ways as well. In our first meeting, he said to me, “Gary, you need to go where the people are."
I thought, “OK, great -- but where are they?”
It just so happened that our celebration coincided with several other events, and the mayor suggested we take advantage. For instance, there was already an event scheduled for downtown on the opening night of out celebration, so we planned a “dancing in the streets” event (just like it happened in 1945) complete with a swing band playing period music, which took advantage of the “pre-existing crowd."
Also, on the celebration's closing night, the local American Legion Band was scheduled to perform their final outdoor concert of the season. So we asked them to play period music and let us “sponsor” their concert, and then provided a fireworks display at the conclusion. This was obviously a big “win-win."
The event was great fun, with thousands of people participated in the events over the course of three days. However, had I not received such sage advice early in the planing process, I don’t know that the event would have been nearly as successful.
Over the course of the event planning I learned several valuable lessons, which I feel can be applied to your technical ministry.
You see, I did say this would eventually come full circle…
Here are some key lessons I’d take away from this story:
1) Get the right people involved! 2) Go where the people are! 3) Listen to others around you, drawing upon all ideas. You may be surprised of the results…
Not only did I learn “to go where the people are.” I learned that there are outside influences that can make a bigger impact than you alone can create.
It's easy in retrospect to see the great wisdom in the suggestion “go where the people are." However, that suggestion applies just as much to planning your next worship outreach or searching for new technical staff as it does to planning a celebration.
Most importantly, it’s critical to listen to those people with whom you’ve surrounded yourself. You never know what great idea or solution may come from the most surprising place.
Gary Zandstra is a professional AV systems integrator with Parkway Electric and has been involved with sound at his church for more than 25 years.