Last week, I was in Orlando for 7 days to help lead a large team of volunteers that execute the National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention.
Though I shouldn’t have stayed up as late as I did Sunday night, I had the Oscars on the hotel TV while I dozed off. I was almost asleep by the time Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty made their way on stage. Through my shuttering eyelids I say Beatty as he struggled to announce the Best Picture Oscar. As the La La Land team came to the stage, I reached for the remote to turn the TV off, when much to my surprise I saw a stagehand run franticly in the back of the stage followed by a guy with a headset come out and take the envelope to verify something. I perked up and saw some confusion on stage. After a few awkward moments, it was made clear that the wrong Best Picture movie was read and that indeed Moonlight had won, not La La Land.
If you didn’t catch it live or have seen the clip, check it out here:
We all know that when its live production, anything can happen. I’ve been involved in numerous services, shows, and productions where major mishaps have taken place. Some the audience sees, some they don’t.
I believe there are some things we can learn from the Oscars blunder for experiences that we create at our churches. I’ve mentioned three below.
1. Have a Backup Plan
It was clear in the moment that the Oscars did not have a plan in place if something like this happened. You may have read the stories of how the accounting firm that protects the envelopes has two sets of them and passes them to presenters depending on which side of the stage they are on. That being said, considering the scramble of production crew and the stage manager to the stage, the Oscars team didn’t know what to do in the event the wrong name was read from the card.
Here are some areas of our experiences where things could go seriously wrong if something unplanned happened:
If you serve at a multi-site campus-
What happens if the message being streamed to your campus fails or doesn’t come through in some way? Do you have a generic backup message ready at all times?
What happens if your teaching pastor becomes ill or something drastic happens before he is supposed to take the stage? Do you have another teaching pastor ready to go with an message that they can ‘pull out of their pocket’?
What happens if the power goes out during a worship service?
Who comes to the stage and speaks to your audience? What’s the plan if that happens? Who calms people down and gives clear instruction?
What happens if a speaker goes totally off script and says something terrible toward the church or something completely unbiblical?
Do you politely interrupt them and move the service another direction?
Do you address the concerns after they leave the stage?
Is there a plan in place if something goes terribly wrong in your experience?
It took Jimmy Kimmel several minutes to figure out what happened at the Oscars and he kept standing in the wings and then by the microphone not sure whether to move to it or not.
If something goes terribly wrong in your service, who is the designated person that diffuses the situation? Your Senior Pastor? The Teaching Pastor for the day? Your Campus Pastor?
It might be a good idea to pre-designated a person that is the go-to “Host” if you have a major catastrophe happen in your service or event.
3. Have your Best People Deliver Your Most Important Moments
Let’s face it, the Oscars gave the mic to two senior citizens who floundered in the big moment. Warren Beatty looked lost and didn’t know what do to. Faye Dunaway didn’t read the card entirely or she would’ve seen Emma Stone as the main text on the card. Maybe years ago these two would’ve been able to realize better what was happening in the moment and adapt. They could’ve asked for clarification from the crew, taken a moment to walk off stage to be sure, ask Jimmy to come read the card, or other solution. I give it to them, everyone in the room and America was staring at them, I would’ve been a nervous wreck and not sure what do to either, so I can blame them that much. And mistakes do happen.
That being said, I do think its a lesson for us to save our most important moments in our experiences to those who are more talented at handling those intense situations. Or, if you really need someone you’re not sure will deliver, have a competent person come out with them to save the situation if need be.
A good rule of thumb though, would be to have your best people deliver the most important or impactful moments in your experience.
Carl Barnhill has served on staff at some of the largest churches and organizations in the country. He served as Media Director at Precept Ministries International, directing the television and radio program Precepts for Life with Kay Arthur, broadcasted to over 98 million homes around the world. He served as Video Production Director at Pinelake Church in Brandon, MS, where he produced media content for four campuses, as well as led volunteer teams.
He most recently served as Video Coordinator for Newspring Church in South Carolina. Newspring has 10 campuses across the state with a weekly attendance of over 35,000. At one campus alone, the number of consistent volunteers serving in media production tripled, under his leadership.
He currently serves as Creative Director and Owner of[twelve:thirty]media, a company that serves churches and ministries all over the world through motion graphics content and church media coaching.