Here’s a post-program conversation I’ve had before:

ME: “Taylor, what happened?”

TAYLOR: “What do you mean?”

ME: “You were supposed to come up and do the announcements.”

TAYLOR: “I was?” (Realization) “Oh, man, I’m so sorry! I totally forgot!”

45 minutes ago, Taylor felt significantly less panicked during that thirty seconds of dead air than I did. It would’ve been so much better to have that conversation pre-program than post.

Whether your crowd is big or small, whether your program is complicated or straightforward, I think production meetings are a huge deal. By the way, “production meeting” is just a fancy way of saying huddle up with key players and talk through the night.

Each time you meet, identify the people who play an important role in executing your environment (I use execute in the positive sense, not the negative):

  • People hitting buttons that cue videos, lights, and lyrics
  • People managing the audio (playlists, microphones, videos)
  • Speakers
  • Band members
  • Hosts, actors, characters, etc.

I’m sure you could add or subtract from this list. If you have a small student ministry, I strongly suggest bringing your leaders and volunteers into the mix as well.

Here are the benefits of a production meeting:

  1. Transitions. Start at the beginning of your program and talk through the logistics step-by-step. You’ll find yourself reminding people of things like when to play certain audio tracks and when to put specific pictures on the screen. This is also the perfect time to talk through transitions. Why? So you can avoid the awkward moments!!! (Not sure why I used three exclamation points). If you’re fancy and sophisticated, use Planning Center and print out a schedule. If you’re not, write it on a napkin and make some copies. It makes no difference to me.
  1. Goals. Let people know what you’re hoping to accomplish today. What is the sermon about? What is the goal of small group time? What are you wanting students will walk away with? This is your chance to get everybody on the same page and pour some purpose into that particular program (alliteration, anyone?).
  1. Vision. This is your chance to cast vision and motivate. Let your key players know that today is important. Who knows what God will do? It could be a game-changer for someone (even if it’s a random overcast day in April). I use this time to encourage leaders to welcome new students, sit with their small group, and act like they’re excited to be there. I urge worship leaders to think about the students in the back with their arms crossed, not just the students in the front with their hands raised. Also, this is a great time to thank everyone for giving up their time to be there.
  1. Prayer. I love this verse: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). In your case, “the house” is a great night—an effective, engaging program. Pray that God builds it so that your hard work isn’t fruitless.

So what’s your one step? Have a production meeting.

You don’t have to make it long. And you don’t need to ask people to get there three hours in advance. But you do need to give it a shot.

Ben Crawshaw is a DYM Author and Director of XP3 Curriculum & High School Camp at The reThink Group.