Wednesday, July 29, 2015

End of Season Reflections: 5 tips for the director

The 2015-2016 season was one of the shortest I've directed in the last 4 years with my ministry team. Despite that, it has been a wonderfully productive season with it's own set of challenges and blessings.

Looking back on this season, I've come to realize that I've remembered some old lessons and learned new ones as a director...

Learn to work with what you have

Last season, we staged an adaptation of "Heavenly Street" by Carrie Murphy. We survived our first completely live production complete with microphones, large set pieces and a huge variety of props and creative arts. The message was beautiful and we rehearsed long and hard... yet by the end of each performance and the season the team was exhausted. Why? The production was originally done with 16 people... our team had 9 including myself and our tech girl.

This year, I opted for a more simple production, "the Original Love Story," which cleverly (if I do say so myself) wove in video segments and illusions with the songs into one sweeping narrative. The transitions advanced the story but also freed the team up to prepare for the next song. Really, it was a production better suited to a team of our size and capability.

Yet again, the message was beautiful... but we didn't have to work nearly as hard before/during/after. The team enjoyed the production much more.

It's easy, and in fact I encourage you, to dream BIG. Yet, learn to be realistic and see how you can accomplish your vision with your current resources.

Don't be afraid to recycle

Sadly, we were only able to present "Heavenly Street" twice last season and, as much as I loved the production, I was hesitant to stage it again with only a team of 8 this time. I'm also known for not wanting to "do the same thing twice." Still, we dedicated so much time to learning the songs and painting sets that I didn't want it to go to waste...

So I re-used some of the songs in a new context for "the Original Love Story." I didn't do "exactly" what we did last time and this kept the material fresh for our church and my team. 

Have fun

We work hard and, though I didn't always make as much time as I should have, we made time to just have fun as a team. We play Charades together and get pretty competitive. We take the scenic route home and stop to take pictures on long drives back from a performance. We even had a "pizza party" where I bought pizza dough and everyone brought toppings so we could make and eat our own custom pizzas.

Having fun with your team is a way to build your team and share some fun moments together. Let them know it's not all business, it's also friendship and fellowship.

Motivate your team

It's one thing to direct your team. It's an entirely different thing to believe in your team. 

I am my team's #1 encourager. I am always cheering them on, constructively giving feedback to encourage excellence and challenging them to try something new and step out of their comfort zone. 

Do your best and let God take care of the rest!

I often remind my team of this, especially before a performance. It's so easy to get caught up in being "perfect." I want them to remember that their honest best is matters but what God does matters most.

I like to think I've always done this for my team but sometimes believing in your team means accepting that this is their best, and it may not be the way you wanted it. Or they are so terrified of a particular part that you need to stop everything and just pray for them. 

Remember the big picture

My leaders and I are always reminding our team the why of our ministry. We do stage these productions because they are fun but, ultimately, we're hoping to present the life-changing message of God's love through Christ. 

Make time for devotionals, share testimonies with each other and prayer with and for your team. Ask them what is their takeaway from a song or what impacts them most about the program.

My biggest highlight this year was when I sent a group text to my team thanking them for their hard work and reminding them that they never know the impact they might have on someone's life.

One of my students, who doesn't always appear to be "on" during rehearsals, replied: "No need to thank me! I've come to realize that I'm doing this for God and to try and change someone's life. Thank you, good night, and God bless you."

In summary...

What a blessing the 2015-2016 season was! Although ministry is tiring... it is also encouraging and a privilege to serve. I hope to apply these lessons as I move forward and begin to plan a new year. Let's pray that my team enjoys their sabbatical and returns refreshed and eager to serve. 

Did you try something new this year? What have you learned in your recent experiences? 

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