FILO Conference

The FILO Conference is a gathering of local church technical artists designed to encourage, train and inspire. Whether you are a volunteer or a staff person, an audio engineer or a graphics operator, set builder or jack of all trades, there is something unique here for you and the role you play in your local church.

never say no (don't say yes either)

As tech people, we are often asked to do crazy stuff by our creative counterparts. As crazy as these ideas might seem, the balance between creative ideas and technical realities is the name of the game. We are the executers of ideas. They imagine ideas that need to be executed. Without each other, nothing happens. 


Ideas without execution are just ideas. Execution without ideas is…probably nothing.

However, just because someone has an idea doesn’t mean it should automatically be done. And just because we don’t think it can be done, doesn’t mean we get to say no.

Never Say No

As someone who can feel overworked and overwhelmed, saying no can be an automatic response. We don’t need think about it, it just can’t be done!

However, original ideas are precious gifts. They typically aren’t laying around waiting to be used. They are conceived of in the minds of creative people who are trying to help lead our congregations into new thoughts and ideas about who God is and how we relate to Him. For us to knee jerk to “no” isn’t fair to them. 

I learned this in so many difficult ways, but I did figure out that I needed to engage my creative team in a way that we could get to the heart of the idea and to brainstorm together how we could accomplish the intent of the idea. Instead of thinking about it in terms of how we could accomplish it with our current resources or the time available to us, do we need to expand the parameters to accomplish the idea. 

Or maybe we need to shrink the idea to fit our resources.

If “no” is the answer, we should arrive at it together; trusting each other to come up with the best answer.

(don’t say yes either)

I want to be a team player. Who doesn’t? But you’re thinking…if you don’t want me to say no, then you’re just expecting me to say yes to everything. To quote Dwight Shrute, “False".

Ideas are precious…great. But just because someone has an idea, doesn’t make it worthy of your team’s time and resources. 

I noticed early in my career that I discounted the importance of my time. It was not a resource that I considered legitimate when I figured out whether an idea was worth doing. I’m the doer, so let’s go.

The reality is that if we want to have a successful tech ministry, we need to have priorities and values that drive our decisions. Without them, we tend to run from one fire to another trying to put them out. As a result, I would argue that we aren’t achieving all that our churches need. Without intentionality, our technical arts ministries just become the clean up crew for every last minute idea.

In a similar way to not saying “no”, “yes” needs to come from a mutual agreement. Our creative counterparts need to understand what they are asking for. We need to engage them in the conversation about whether it is a good idea or not, given our current circumstances. 

To engage our creative friends in helping us figure out if we can accomplish an idea can be a vulnerable place. In some ways it feels like an admission that I can’t get it all done, which is what I like to think is possible. If I can’t do it all, where do gain my significance? Ouch.

Not saying no and not saying yes requires a trusting relationship with the people who are coming up with the ideas. Without that, we aren’t working together the way God intended the body of Christ to work.

"good enough"

In the world of church production, the phrase “Good Enough” is used far too often, and even typing it, it is sending chills up my spine. There are some people that say it out of ignorance of what it really takes to make things happen. They will generally never stop saying it. Then there are some people that know better and should never say it.

The reason it makes my skin crawl is that I give in to laziness when I say the phrase "good enough”. If you’ve ever worked with me before, you might be thinking that I’m contradicting myself. I know that I’ve said that something was good enough before. I’m pretty sure I said it a few times over this past Christmas.

There are certain situations that require the use of the phrase, but only after certain criteria have been met. For those of you in the perfectionistic category, you will struggle to ever agree that something is “good enough”, but it is a skill that we all must learn how to say at the right moments.

If you’ve ever read Seth Godin’s blog (and if you don’t, you should start), he talks a lot about shipping your product, whatever it might be. There always comes a point where something has to be good enough, so that people can start experiencing what you’ve done. If you never get there, nothing really ever gets accomplished.

So how do we know when something is “good enough”?

When All Your Resources Are Exhausted

Have you used everything you have to the fullest? Does your budget fully support the ideas that you are trying to accomplish? Have you leveraged every hour and each volunteer to accomplish the task?

If you have tried everything at your disposal, and worked as hard as you can, guess what? It’s good enough.

Since for most of us, our personal time doesn’t always seem to count as a resource, we tend to overdo it in that category. But if it can be better by staying up all night, why wouldn’t I do that? I’m definitely in the camp of doing whatever it takes to make something happen, but you can’t always pull all-nighters to get something done, or else you’ll fry yourself.

In a debrief after a Saturday night service, if there are some suggested changes, I always weigh them against how long it is going to take vs. how much are people going to notice. Sometimes it makes sense to stay all night to make changes. Sometimes, it isn’t even worth staying an extra hour.

Kay Factor

This was a phrase I learned from one of my mentors, Marty O’Connor. When he was doing production work at Willow Creek in the 80’s and 90’s, he would often ask himself if spending extra time or money on something would be noticed by his wife, Kay. If she couldn’t tell the difference, then it was good enough.

If adding one more spinning gobo will take an extra hour, but nobody will really ever notice, it might be worth not doing. If the spinning gobo isn’t transition nicely to the next cue, now that’s something to stay an extra hour to fix, because Kay would definitely notice that.

Letting Go of Creativity

It seems to me that it is easier for us to get caught up in make something cool, and lose sight of hitting the basics and calling it good. For many technical artists that I know, we want to help create moments, which tend to take more time to do. I’m not suggesting we don’t work hard at those, but I am suggesting that we need to put that time into the context of everything else going on. Sometimes it needs to be “good enough”, so that you can have more time with your family or spend that time developing more volunteers.

The basics of production can never be just “good enough”. We need to nail them. When it comes to enhancing a moment, or pouring your creativity into something extra, we will eventually get to a place where it has to be good enough.


In the church world, profitability isn’t really a thing. Our successes are measured differently. However, in the real world of production, they come to the “good enough” place all the time, because making it better will cost more. Whether it is the exact right piece of gear or having a crew spend all night on something, the client gets charged for that.

When I look back on some of the decisions I made personally or for my team, I never had to consider this factor. But if had to think through decisions through the lens of profitability, I would have called more things “good enough” sooner.

Do you use the phrase “good enough”? Are you sacrificing the basics or are you being smart with your resources? Does your “good enough” mean that you are being smart with you resources?   |   224.829.0929   |   ©2016 First In Last Out