Monday, April 15, 2013

Spend Time With Your Volunteers

As the technical complexity of church production has increased over the last two decades, the need for a qualified Technical Director (TD) or possibly even an entire group of qualified technicians has become important in many churches. While most churches don’t have a full time tech staff, let alone a paid TD, most of those who lead a church tech team have both a drive for perfection and a solid work ethic. Whether you’re a seasoned tech professional or one of the thousands of talented, amazing, and dedicated tech team leaders, you probably have these same traits.
No doubt, the church tech arts team needs to be lead by such a person. This is a person who gets things done. Has attention to detail. Comes in early and is the last one to leave.
Tech teams are the Marines of the Church – first to hit the beach and last to leave the battlefield. And tech team leaders are certainly the captains of the fight. Each weekend service is like taking a hill – hours of preparation followed by services that must be executed with the same detail, focus, and hard work. And although it’s definitely a team effort, there is always a leader that shouts the charge and takes the bullets.
Let’s get real for a moment. If you’re that person, you’re probably a little bit of a control freak. You aren’t a person that easily sits on your hands and watches. I would bet you have even wondered if there was a way you could run sound, lights, presentation, and video all by yourself every weekend. Now I know that some of you out there are actually talking to your screen saying, “Wondered about it? I’ve done it!” or, “I do that every weekend!” Or maybe it’s just me.
I won’t tackle the one-man-band topic in this article other than to say, “We are better together.”
For many years I saw my role as a tech leader in two ways: managing the teams efforts and performing one of the many tasks that must be done during a service or event. I would move from position to position making sure each operator was doing what they were supposed to do – advancing the presentation, turning this mic on and that mic off, getting the camera operator to frame the shot correctly, and so on. If I stepped into a position, I would focus on that discipline trying to push out all the other techs I was working with.
While both these approaches may work, the tone that sets isn’t one of community or family.
Contrary to popular (tech director) belief, most of the volunteers that serve in church aren’t looking to be on a team that runs like a Swiss watch. Most people jump into volunteering – whether it’s in tech or the parking lot – wanting to be a part of a community – a family. They may start serving because they feel guilty about simply taking up pew space, or they really just want to serve God through serving in the church. They stay in volunteer ministry because they feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves – with folks that care about each other.
So what’s our responsibility as a tech leader in all this? I’d like to suggest that instead of micromanaging our teams or hyper focusing on how “we” would do it better; we take a more family approach to leading. I’m a big believer in making the tech team be like a family (a functional family). This may seem like a sample loop, but it’s so important to learn the love language of the teams we lead. Each one has a different personality and an equally different way they receive and show care. They need to know that as their leader, we truly care about them. People don’t like to feel like they are there to merely perform a job or task.
I know that, for some of us techie types, it would be easier to focus on the mechanical, the task, and the equipment. But those on our team are the most important asset we have. Jesus didn’t come to earth to save the show, program, or equipment. People are the only thing He cares about. If we are to be Christ-like leaders, we must put our people first – creating an atmosphere of love, care, and safety.
I’m not saying that details, planning, and training are not important.
A well-informed team makes quicker and better decisions. Planning shows them someone cares about the outcome of the event as much as they do and that those planning and overseeing the event value their time.
A well-trained team makes more confident decisions and has more fun.
What I am saying is that our teams need to feel we are serving together. That even though we may be the ones ultimately responsible for the technical outcome of the service or program, we are in this together, giving them constant words of encouragement and having their back when they make a mistake – not chastising them. Instead we direct them to make the necessary changes to get it right the next time.
We’re all in this together. So let’s make sure that this weekend we’re leading our teams like Jesus – being a servant. Put them first. Spend time with them – not just doing a job alongside them. If we do this, we will find that leading our teams is a lot more like spending time serving God with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and a lot less like work. In the process, you’ll find fulfillment because you aren’t robbing your team of the blessing of serving together. Your ministry, your church, and your life will flourish because of it.

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