Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Tech Ministry Issues

Overstatement alert:
There are two types of tech people: ones that know how the gear works, and those who know how to work the gear.
Here’s what I mean. Some tech people are amazing at understanding the inner workings of the equipment that most of our churches are using. Sound boards. Lighting consoles. Video switchers. They can take it apart, fix it, and put it back together. This type of tech person has a very technical understanding of the equipment.
The other type of tech person has a basic understanding of how the stuff works, but is more interested in getting work out of the gear. How can I use the audio console to get the kinds of sounds I am looking for? What effects can we create with our video cameras? What is the easiest way to get what I need from the lighting console?
Very rarely are these two extremes found in the same person, and most people lie on a continuum between the two. You aren’t one or the other, but you land somewhere in-between.
So what is the better type? What does your church need most? How do you determine which volunteers fit where? Should your next hire/volunteer be a technically minded tech person or a creative tech person?


Every technical system and each venue using those technical systems has a baseline of what acceptable working conditions look like. If all you had was a bunch of creative types running the production team, there’s a good chance that nothing would actually work.
In order to leverage technology for use in the church, it needs to function. Without people who understand the inner workings of your equipment, you can only use it so much. It doesn’t matter how creatively you can imagine using environmental projection, if you don’t have someone who understands pixel maps, projector warping, and the difference between HD SDI and component video.
Looking at your own church, do your mics feed back constantly? Do you have camera shots of the wrong things? Is your worship team in the dark? If your team wrestles with the basics, it doesn’t matter how creative you are, your moments are ruined by the distractions caused by lack of understanding of how your equipment works.
When I think about all the amazing events I have been a part of over the years, none of them would have happened without a team of highly talented, highly invested technicians. They are an essential part of any successful live production experience.


If services are executed well, this is the time to start getting creative with technology, to begin to push your equipment to try new things. Not so that you can do cool things, but so that you can help support the mission of your church more effectively.
So which kind of tech person is right for your church? Both. For the church to function properly, both are necessary in some measure.


At most churches, we take all the different kinds of tech people and we put them behind the soundboard. Many times, it is the only place we have for them to serve. In these situations, it is no wonder that cues can be missed or that mics are feeding back, when the person mixing should probably be soldering cables together, not trying to build an audio mix.
For the body of Christ to function properly, everyone needs to be plugged in and using their gifts for the benefit of everyone. Unfortunately, we don’t spend lots of time figuring out how each person can uniquely contribute, and instead we spend our time trying to fill slots in the schedule with whoever signs up.
How can I (we) devote a part of the weekly schedule to develop ways for people to use their gifts in the technical arts to serve our churches?
Regardless of where a person falls on the technician/artist continuum, there needs to be an expectation on serving the church and being a team player.
If someone wants to be on the team because they love the glamor of hanging out with the band, but won’t participate in load out, there’s a problem.
If someone knows the “right” way to do something and isn’t open to feedback, there isn’t room on the team for that.
If someone will only run camera 1, and what is best for the team is for them to shade, they probably need to find a different place to serve.
When it comes down to it, I don’t care how talented you are or who you’ve worked with or how many awards you’ve won; if you aren’t going to be a team player, to do what is best for the team and the church, I don’t want you on the team.
As leaders of the technical arts ministry at our churches, it is our job to figure out multiple ways for people along the production continuum to serve. Once they are on the team, it is also our job to hold those people to the standard of Galatians 5:13:
You, my brothers and sisters…serve one another humbly in love.

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