Tel: 905–690–4709 dk@tfwm.com - Darryl Kirkland, Publisher

Appointing A Worship Manager

I know what you may be thinking: What is a Worship Manger? A Worship Manager is a solution to a problem you didn’t even realize you were having. There is so much detail in training for the position I am about to describe, it is impossible to do so in one article. Instead, I would like to raise awareness about potential solutions to the growing technical problems you are most likely experiencing in your service – and to give some hope. This article is intended to encourage and excite you. I hope it helps you realize new potential and gives you a desire to learn more about introducing a ministry leader to act as your “Worship Manager”.

As the church evolves in the use of media for ministry it begins to unearth a particular problem. Suddenly, the church has gone from having audio problems to having the opportunity for audio, video, lighting, and staging problems. One of the major problems with churches using volunteer Worship Technicians is that the end decision is left up to that one person. When the service changes or equipment fails, it comes down to the individual operator to make a sudden, often uninformed decision. With the inclusion of other technical tools such as video, lighting and staging, these problems increase exponentially, as you have multiple people making spot decisions independently of one another. This is a train wreck waiting to happen!

There is, however, a solution to this problem. The solution is a “Worship Manager”. Professional theatre has been using this position, usually called a “Stage Manager”, for years. It’s a simple solution, and one that when adopted in church ministry will increase the effectiveness of technical ministry, as well as worship and pastoral effectiveness.

The role of “Worship Manager” is to keep the service running smoothly at all costs. This person is 100%, for better or worse, in charge of every technical aspect of the service. From day-to-day smooth operation to the emergency decisions, this person makes every call – from start to finish. I guarantee you that implementing such a position into your worship team will bring an immediate increase in efficiency as well as worship. Let’s take a moment to look at how this position works.

Consider that this person should be in sync with the senior pastoral staff. This is one of the key ways that this person will facilitate worship and make the life of the pastor, worship pastor, and media pastor so much easier. This person should be close enough to the pastor and worship pastor that he or she will know what that person is doing without being told. This person should have a clear idea of the intention of the worship service. This person should also be included in prayer meetings as well as production meetings.

Why is this key? Simple: By the Worship Manger knowing the details of the service and the desired message, he or she can ensure all technical components will work in harmony to get there. If something should change mid-service, or equipment failure occurs, this person will be able to make an immediate decision that will continue the flow towards the final goal.

It’s also key because now instead of coordinating with the sound team, lighting team, baptism team, video team, and other miscellaneous groups, you can communicate with this one person – who in turn relays the information to the other groups. Remember – the Technical Worship Manager is in charge of every aspect of the “production” of the service.

This person needs to be involved in rehearsals. It is critical that he or she know every special, every solo; every nuance of the service inside and out. Why? In an ideal world the Technical Worship Manager will call the “cues” for each action on Sunday morning.

Have you been frustrated by dropped instrument solos or late microphone pickups? Are you wringing your hands, not knowing how to fix the problem? This is your fix. This person is anticipating each action. Remember, this person is involved from the beginning, so the last minute additions or changes are something he or she can pick up on intuitively because they are a part of the team.

Aside from the obvious, there are underlying issues that show the benefit of using a Worship Manger. Your sound person isn’t worrying about who is speaking into what microphone because all they have to worry about is whether or not it sounds right. See? They are FOCUSING on their task. The lighting person isn’t worried about when to execute the cue, instead he or she is interested in executing the cue properly. Watching the transition and nailing the timing – making sure all the lights are illuminating properly – again, FOCUSING on the task.

Are you frustrated by the words on the projector being off? Of course you are! The video technicians don’t know the songs or the arrangements, and getting all these people to rehearsal is impossible – what to do? Again – the Technical Worship Manager calls each cue. Each line change, each song change, each transition. The operator merely has to hit the right button to perform the called action. What is happening here? Oh yeah, the person is FOCUSING on their task.

The details of execution, timing, and problem-solving all fall onto the shoulders of the Technical Worship Manger. Yes, it is a lot for one person to do. But here is the key – it’s one person. Or perhaps it’s two or three people that rotate, but regardless, solving technical issues becomes simple. You are dealing with one person. That one person learns, improves the timing or process, and becomes more in sync with the senior pastors. The result? A very well oiled machine that removes a lot of hassles, barriers, and frustrations.

This person also needs a base knowledge of all areas of technical equipment. They don’t need to know how to run the sound board, but they need to understand the concept. They don’t need to be able to switch video, but they need to understand what is involved, and know the limitations of the system. They don’t need to know how to program the light board, but they do need to know how long it takes and understand when something becomes unreasonable. All of this knowledge plays into the ability to make good decisions on the fly. One of the toughest skills is knowing when something can’t happen on time BEFORE you spend an hour trying to do it. While the immediate answer becomes a “no”, it’s a well educated answer so that time is spent finding a solution rather than inducing stress on everyone involved to come up with nothing at the end.

Finally, this person needs to be organized. They need to be comfortable with authority and understand how to manage people well. They need to be a team-player as well as a team-member. They need to be cool under pressure and able to calmly direct groups of people at once. They need to have a specific plan for “calling” each service. They need to know who is scheduled to work, where they are, when they are supposed to arrive, and when someone doesn’t show up, who to call to ensure that their task is covered.

You see, all this happens without the need for involving the pastor or worship pastor – why? So they can FOCUS on their work. That is what it is really about; it’s about allowing the ministers and worship technicians to FOCUS on what’s important; the people, the message, the worship – doing what everyone is called to do.

There is a reason the professional theatre does it this way – because it works, and it works well. I employ these techniques for every stage show as well as live event that I produce. It is effective and critical. It is insane that we even attempt the level of technical production in our services without this position. So now that you know what the problem is, go find your solution.