Ask The Right Questions

22 10 2013

Originally posted under Worship Tools at www.ccisolutions.com 

Seven years ago the folks at RT Creative Group started Echo Conference, a place to bring together people who are involved in the intersection of media, technology and the Church. These guys have done a phenomenal job growing a conference geared for church creative folks, and this month I had the honor to lead a few breakout sessions at Echo 2013. I met lots of people there and spent much of the conference connecting with people outside of the main sessions, answering as many questions as I could to help them maximize their effectiveness with technology. As the conference went on though, I was noticing a common thread among nearly every conversation: people kept asking the wrong questions.

“There are no right answers to wrong questions.”
Ursula K. Le Guin

The most common question I received after the lighting class I taught was, “I’ve got a tight budget, what LEDs do you like?” Each and every time my answer was the same: it depends on what you’re trying to do. A question I found posed on Twitter last week was similar: “What PAs do you like right now?” These questions both have something in common: there is no way to get a useful answer. The answers we get with questions like these aren’t helpful towards reaching a goal, but are simply popular opinion. If we want answers that are going to help us get somewhere, we have to ask questions that point to our target.

You must be able to target the goal of your miinistry
Painting A Target
A few years ago we began reviewing our initial design meetings with the churches we partnered with. Our team always strives to give churches what they want, yet we increasingly have churches who ask for things that won’t really help them hit their ministry targets. Often the focus is on certain pieces of gear or something seen in another church. Unfortunately, many churches don’t develop a vision for what they hope to accomplish first, resulting in purchasing tools that are wrong for the job. For this reason, we’ve reshaped our design process to begin with a time of vision casting; a time to dig into the vision, goals and culture of the church in order to target what the technology is to accomplish. Very intentionally, before we ever look into the what, as a collaborative team we dig into the why.

“We thought that we had the answers, it was the questions we had wrong.”
Bono

Reaching People
So often we get fixated on the cool things new gear does and forget to ask the right question: how does this help our ministry be more effective? This is one of the reasons that senior leaders often get frustrated with tech people. By nature, most techs are doers, so we think primarily about all of the cool things new gear can do. But as people committed to helping our churches grow, we need to remember we are in the business of reaching people above all else. Instead of focusing on what the tools do, we must focus first on the amazing things our people can do with the right tools.

Fall in Love with the Purpose
Something that Michael Buckingham said at the Echo Conference has really stuck with me: “Don’t fall in love with the idea, fall in love with the purpose.” We have seen many ministries over the years base their identity on what they do or what they have. When we do that we’re missing out on what God has for us. Our ministry is not about programs and the tools we use. Every time we step behind a console, computer or camera, our service should point towards reaching people for Christ and helping them grow. But often we fall in love with an idea or the cool features of gear and forget about the purpose it serves. If we’re to serve better, to help reach more people, our passion must be first in our purpose instead of our ideas.

Wrapping it Up
We need doers who are focused on purpose before function. As we dive further into our purpose and vision, our questions shift from “what is new and cool” to “what will help us accomplish __________?” Before asking for money for new gear, ask your senior leadership what things they’d like to see accomplished first. Get a clear understanding of the purpose God has for you and your ministry. Invest as much time into understanding why as you do how, and you’ll not only start naturally asking the right questions, but you’ll see more growth than you probably have ever imagined.

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