Published in December 2008

2008: A Challenging Year
By David Lee Jr., PhD
Key concepts to generate income during tough times.

2008 was a challenging year for most of us who work in the audiovisual industry. The economic downturn, along with the high cost of just about everything, has led to a challenging outlook for every industry, particularly challenging those of us who focus our primary efforts in the House of Worship business.

Like many of you, a major challenge that I experienced was helping worship leaders address their expanding communication needs within their shrinking budgets. Throughout the year, I was reminded that challenges could lead to new opportunities if the issues are attacked with preparation, inspiration and hope.

With this in mind, I set numerous courses of action. I had to pray more often. I had to think smarter. I had to work harder. And I had to travel more than ever. But, as the year closes, I am grateful to report that 2008 has turned out well for me. I hope you are able to report the same.

This month, I will briefly review the concepts that were at the core of my operational framework that helped me generate income in 2008.

Concept 1: Pray: Although the concept of prayer is out of the scope of this prized publication, I believe that prayer has played a major role in keeping my head and heart above the news-cycle frenzy. Prayer sparks my creative nature where new ideas are formed. Prayer also leads to divine favor and blessings. Thus, I would lose a significant component of my framework if the prayer component were omitted.

Concept 2
: Core Communication Goals: Nearly every religious faith, and worship leader, shares three core communication goals. The first is to communicate clearly the tenets of his or her particular faith. The second is to persuade a person to accept or reject these tenets. The third is to create a sense of community among parishioners.

The cumulative effect of these three goals is to get parishioners into the house of worship and keep them coming back. Media technologies can help worship leaders achieve these communication goals. But the commonly asked question is, “Which technologies can be used, and how can they be used, to accomplish these communication goals?”. Here are a few insights that partially answer this question.

Clear communication: Internet (email, websites) technologies serve to communicate messages in the cyber world and can help leaders clarify messages through numerous communication cycles. In addition, high-resolution audio and video systems (used correctly) enable leaders to communicate messages clearly in a worship setting.

Persuasive Communication: Audio and video technologies used well, whether in cyberspace or in a house of worship setting, can grab attention and spur greater retention of messages. Grabbing attention creates a greater opportunity for the tenets to be better understood. In turn, this enables the parishioner to accept (or reject) the tenets.

Community: Creating community is an important element of religious faiths. New communication technologies have tremendous power to create community through shared experiences. For example, in the Christian faith, showing video clips during worship services of missionary work overseas is quite effective for helping congregants to understand the work of the missionary better, and how their donations are impacting people in a faraway land. The net effect is that congregants feel closer to the work, they experience a greater sense of purpose and they are more apt to give additional funds in the future.

Historically, songs were sung from a songbook. Think about that. The parishioners sang while looking down, in their own space, separated from the rest of the congregation. Now, with large video displays, people look up and out. Now they see the words and other members of the congregation worshiping together. Thus, a shared experience has been created.

These few (among many) and simple perspectives are enormous explanatory tools to use when consulting with worship leaders.

Concept 3: Working Smarter: One method I used to work smarter was to gather information that helped me to understand the decision-making roles in the primary religious faiths. Then I looked more specifically at a particular house of worship to pinpoint key decision-makers. The goal was to target those persons who play minor and major roles in the process. This, in the long run, is working smarter.

Concept 4: Work Harder: Obviously, applying Concepts 1-3 creates a large workload. This required that I make more telephone calls, write and send more letters and emails, and create additional print and digital promotional materials.

Concept 5: Travel: There are spots around the world that are enjoying the re-distribution of wealth that is flowing out of our country. Thus, I spent a significant amount of time following the cash flow to Asia, Africa, Europe and South America, where I worked on wonderful projects. In fact, some of these projects will continue to make up a significant portion of my 2009 calendar. I encourage you to consider projects in other parts of the world, where cash is flowing and spending has not yet slowed.

There is no question that 2008 was a challenging year. I am so grateful and humbled that I experienced a great 2008. We now have new challenges to embrace in the New Year. I believe that applying my prayers, core concepts, diligent work and optimistic perspective will lead to a wonderful 2009. I believe that you also can experience a wonderful year if you will apply an optimistic perspective and establish new operational frameworks.

So, now you know what I believe. I want to know what you believe 2009 holds for you.


David Lee Jr., PhD, CEO of Lee Communication Inc., Orlando FL, is a licensed minister and has more than 25 years of experience as a systems integrator. He is a member of Sound & Communications Technical Council. Send comments to dlee@testa.com.
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