media maladies

I was reminded during Catalyst of an issue I’ve seen a lot – the mini-devastation caused by “media maladies.”

It was great to see Tim Stevens speak in the Labs. (I visited his church, Granger Community, during the trip, and had a great conversation with their college guy, Jason Miller.)

It was less fulfilling to see Tim’s clips refuse to work – particularly when his talk was about using videos and other culture-oriented methods!

This particular malady certainly didn’t appear to be Tim’s fault (he wasn’t running the media), and it was awesome to see him handle the whole thing like a champ. I think the room honestly appreciated having the extra Q&A time, too. (And we all benefit, because Tim put those videos up on his blog.)

I recognize flukes can happen to anybody at really any time. Mikes go silent. Videos black out. Worship song lyrics are missing. The PowerPoint handheld clicker goes on strike. A laptop won’t link to the projector. An internet connection won’t… connect. These things happen.

But I get pretty squirmy now, after seeing that happen over and over again – including in lots of college ministries, where media has amazing potential. Just as a great “media moment” can electrify a presentation, a 30-second malady can ruin momentum, distract, discredit, or disengage.

Has media thrown me for a loop in my own ministry work? Sure. But I think I’m beginning to lean toward denying media that power over a presentation. In other words, I figure I should take the time to

  1. Choose the media wisely
  2. Prepare the media well
  3. Set the media up
  4. Make sure the media works
  5. Really make sure the media will work

…or don’t use it at all. (Or, if I’m setting up media for somebody else, I should triple-check Step #5.)

At least that’s where I’m leaning. I know there are temptations to imbalance on either side of this focus. But at present, I’m bummed about great ministry efforts damaged by under-prep.


Written from back home (in the Dallas area)


  1. I would add that you should make sure that you can tell the story of the media clip compellingly, and if the malfunction goes on for more than 10 seconds, abandon it and tell the story.

    It’s still keeping with your basic idea of being over-prepared combined with the reality that media will fail on occasion despite our best efforts so we should, as much as possible, be prepared to go on without it.

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