We’re in Easter week, we’ve been planning service orders, music, media and some drama so our services can be as good as they can be. As you know, we have a template we follow for all of our services, and we are in a pattern of getting at least three weeks ahead of Sunday so we can have plenty of planning time.
So our senior minister, Chris*, has been creating and collating the service orders ready for creative input, worship songs and anything else which will be supporting the talk. He had some ideas, based on some SkitGuys dramas, as to how the service should be structured and also the general theme for the whole event. So he entered some of these elements into a draft order (for both Good Friday and Easter Sunday, which he then copied to me, Steph our assistant minister, Amy our youth worker, and some of the other staff, as we were all going to have some involvement in the services. There were a couple of lines in the email:
“these are still very draft, so feel free to input/comment etc.
The vision that I have for them might need some explaining!”
The problem was, sending an email like this to several different people meant there were several different responses: too wordy, too grown up, not accessible, not all age enough, how about this video, no that’s a bit too kiddish, how can we aim for the middle…etc etc. Chris never usually sends an email like this out, to so many people…(and probably never will again….!)
No such thing as “Correct Collaboration”?
Now I know this post is titled “correct collaboration”, which is probably a slightly misconstrued title as we all know there’s not a “correct” way to be collaborative. That said, I’d like to proffer a few pointers to help with collaboration off of the back of this experience:
- If you want to collaborate, make it clear what it is you’re trying to achieve. When Chris and I met a week later, face to face, we were able to much better discuss the vision for the services, and subsequently were able to understand it and refine the concept.
- Don’t try and collaborate with a large group of people. If I ask two people a question, I’ll get two answers, if I ask several, I’ll get several. Everyone has an opinion, we all have preferences and subjectivity…when we were discussing the songs there was a little push and pull as to how traditional, contemporary, all age etc we needed to think (as our Good Friday service was all age and all together). So collaborating with a small group (small group) is achievable, but once there are several people in the room you are likely to run into problems.
- Watch how you phrase the questions/collaboration. The phrase “feel free to input/comment” left it all very open for people to do just that. Maybe if the question had been “do you understand the concept” or “what do you think of the video” or “will this work with the youth/children” would have given a more straightforward and workable response.
As an example (without wanting to appear completely smug….), this week I’m starting to collate new songs for our Summer song list, so I mailed a small group of people I know, saying:
“I’m starting to collate songs for the summer list, if there are any songs you’ve heard that would be a good fit with our congregation, send me some suggestions before 15th April.”
So (1) it’s clear what I’m trying to achieve, (2) I contacted a small group of people, and (3) the question was direct.
Now as I said above, there’s not a correct way to collaborate, but from experience, using some or all of the pointers above will help with the whole process.
What do you think? (don’t tell me all at once….)
*No senior ministers were harmed in the making of this post. And Chris is the best Senior Minister I have….