by Creative Arts Pastor Sean Bublitz

I’m a huge fan of hockey and when I lived in the Chicago area I used to go watch the Blackhawks practice. It was incredible to see how the professionals prepare. They go full speed. Game speed. They practice exactly like they play in a game so that when it’s game time they’re ready, not trying to get up to speed.

We’ve applied the same idea to our weekend services. The last thing we want is to go into our first service not truly prepared. Not ready to give our best.

So each week before our first service we do what we call a service run-through. In the run-through, we do everything that we’re going to do in a service, sans the message, before there are people in the room.

The benefit is that our excellence level is high from the beginning of the very first service. We’ve already worked through transitions, fixed mistakes, and practiced our cues. The nerves are mostly gone and we’re as prepared as possible.

Our run-through is not:

  • A rehearsal for the band. The band has already rehearsed.
  • Time to program cues. Cues are already programmed.
  • Time to adjust cameras. Cameras are already set.

Sometimes we make changes to what the band plays, or a lighting cue, or a camera position, but all of the major settings are done.

Our run-through is:

  • Time to practice our transitions. Good transitions are key to a distraction-free service.
  • Time to rehearse people movement. Who needs to be where, when?
  • Time to make mistakes. Work through challenges and learn from them so we don’t make the same mistake during the service.
  • Work out the nerves. For some of our volunteers who serve once a month, it can be nerve-racking preparing for the weekend. The run-through helps eliminate some of those nerves.

Are our services perfect because of the run-through? Not at all. But they are infinitely better than they would be because we practiced like we played.

The Blackhawks aren’t great just because of their talent. Neither are we.