Some lessons we’ve learned when doing events…
Doing visuals – get the info before hand and practice live
If you are doing visual presentations, make sure you make it clear that you want the information in full in advance of the event. Too many people unknowingly pressurise people doing visuals – handing them words or requests just before the start of an event. Get used to saying ‘no’ and make it clear you need more warning. Make sure that whether at an event, or within your church, it becomes policy to get information to the person(s) doing visuals. It values the person and enables a smoother service.
Secondly, make sure that if you are the visuals / words person, you get down to a venue in plenty of time to set up and do live tests / run throughs. When we did an event recently we provided the words and visuals. However, we hadn’t been given all the words plus we made mistakes. At one event we provided visuals for, we ran through the words live with the band. Despite careful checking before, we managed to miss one song (fortunately we had it in another file).
A good backup is to keep a list of songs just in case you need to quickly put one up. We use a visual mixer to fade to black – but most video projectors have a ‘mute’ button which will blank the screen if you need to make quick changes.
Technical Equipment Check
New lesson here. This came when doing an event ‘out’ at a church nearby. As our regular sound engineer wasn’t available, we had to hire in a PA (from a local high school). Not a problem, except that the sound quality was very poor. But most of all, the PA equipment wasn’t working properly!!
Here’s the lesson.. If you are hiring in equipment from someone and running it yourself, then get hold of the equipment before and TEST IT throroughly. This means mocking up your setup, attaching leads etc. and making sure it works. If you can’t do that, can you go and see someone else set it up / hear the system, in situ at its normal location.
The other way round this is to simply have all of your own equipment. This is the route we’re going to go back down. We want to be independent, and to have a team that can deliver events, without having to hire in. In the long-run, if you’re doing lots of events, it pays to have (and maintain / look after) your own equipment.
Ultimately it’s worth paying a professional company for their kit if you have to hire. Then make sure you know how to use it and set it up!
Follow up before and after
Not just with young people who may have become Christians or moved a step nearer but with those people involved, if need be.. a thank you, a phone call, a way of supporting them. Our ministry is to make and build disciples not just get commitments! Reaching, teaching, keeping..
Let love be your guide
I remember doing events in the early days when the actual event became my focus (after God’s Kingdom). Be people focused, even if you find it hard like me. Loving people is a real key. You are doing what you do because God loves people like you (John 3.16) and he calls us to express that love too. Just don’t lose sight of who (after God) you are doing things for. I did and I was wrong
Make people feel welcome
When I first went to some churches, people couldn’t have been less friendly. I stood there or sat there like an alien in an alien world (about what it often was!) and I felt lonely. Don’t ever let young people or others feel like that. Show them they are welcome. I have a great rule: Always say ‘hi’ to people and always say ‘bye’ to people. Encourage your leaders and young people to do the same. Another hint is always have music playing before and after events. Have it playing on a low volume during if you want to. Most young people are well into music and spend little time away from it in their leisure time
Don’t be discouraged
Please! If your vision is from God, keep going. Try not to feel down if only a few people turn up. Keep going anyway. God has called you to do what you do for a reason. Keep going. In due time, you will reap a harvest if you don’t get disappointed and give up (Galatians 6.9) There are many stories of people who preached to small audiences but from that small group came men and women of God who changed the world
Establish boundaries and rules
Not just with the people attending but with other people involved and other Christians. I would recommend talking to other people and bringing them on-side but stay true to the vision God has given you. Don’t surround yourself with people who just say yes to everything but people who share the vision and who are men and women of God. Don’t be distracted.
Get the ground rules sorted – if God’s given you a vision then take it forward and drive it until he says hand it on. The clearer you are about this initially, the less problems you will have. Think about what you do if things go wrong. Think about authority, accountability, discipline, discipleship of one another.
About what you do, where and when, about who is involved and how. We had one person wanting to work with us from a church and it was just clear this person wasn’t right spiritually or somewhere. In time we found out that we were right not to let this person be involved. Use discernment, talk to people you trust too.
Of meetings about your event. Just in case and for reflection and accountability. Record anything that happens on the night if you feel it necessary. I had to record one incident of a leader who had an alleged altercation with a student. Keep a track of finances. If you do things properly, under UK Charity Law, the church leaders often need to be in charge of the finances (delegated to a treasurer). Check out how you will organise finances, confidential information etc.
After each event, we assess what was good and what needed improving. Get people’s ideas and get it down on paper! For example, at one event we had a disco and young people didn’t dance much, they just hung around in the corridors and outside. When it came to giving a talk they just weren’t there!
Unfortunately, you may be wrongly criticised and your motives challenged (it may just be you don’t get to hear about it!) But don’t worry about it. If God has told you to do something, be faithful. It is his Kingdom and they are His battles to fight! (Would you want anyone else on your side instead?)
Release people into their giftings but take time with them to make sure it is done properly. Don’t stick someone up front who’s inexperienced, put them there with someone who is. Don’t get a prophet to be the manager. Don’t use people who aren’t gifted musically in the band! UNLESS, they are learning and growing into it and are passionate about doing it for God. Then invest in them with time and discipleship. Be creative.
Other mistakes we made
One mistake we made was aiming an event at too wide an age group – 8 to 16s if I remember! Try to be specific – juniors, high school, college, University etc.
Another time we had a separate ‘chill-out’ room. It didn’t work. Or rather it did work! So well that everyone spent the night in the chill-out room and not where we wanted them – in the main room hearing the Gospel! Still, we didn’t mind too much as we had opportunity to hang out with them in the so-called ‘wrong’ room!
So we made loads of mistakes. Good! It’s the only way we learnt. Try things even if others say they won’t work. Be creative and experimental. See what works. Re-assess but keep going