The Person in the Booth: "In the Beginning…"

In Uncategorizedby tfwm

“The PERSON in the BOOTH” is a column dedicated to the people side of tech; a column written to help churches understand the most critical element in their technical arsenal – the volunteer.

We all know that a certain investment must be made in order to produce technical excellence in any church today. However, it is not just the value of the equipment that assures this excellence. It is more importantly, the value the church places in its volunteer tech or tech team that will ultimately be responsible for producing the desired end result.

Today, churches are quickly discovering that yesterday’s sound requirements no longer apply to the listeners of today. Older churches are upgrading their sound systems to meet the demands of a more contemporary sound. New churches are being built with state-of-the-art sound equipment. Video production and image magnification systems are the latest technology to be incorporated into the church’s mission. Staged events from the simple Sunday morning skit to the fully staged Easter Pageant require sophisticated lighting and special effects. All of these technologies require an investment by the church of thousands of dollars, with six digit figures being commonplace in large new facilities.

When technical problems occur, churches will oftentimes call upon technical experts to evaluate their systems and make recommendations to correct the problem. Many times their recommended solution involves the purchase and installation of new equipment. The good news is that at today’s prices, such upgrades are more affordable than ever before. The bad news is that the solution may not be in the equipment, but in the people that are tasked to run it.

This is not to say that ALL technical problems can be simply resolved by getting the “right” people to run the equipment. However, if the person running the old equipment is ill prepared, what difference will new equipment make?

Churches today seem almost too ready to invest in new sophisticated and complex equipment, while not understanding that they need to invest more in the people that are expected to run it. In my opinion, this is the number one technical dilemma facing the church today.

The need for qualified people to operate the equipment is the same for a small church with a basic sound system, as it is for a large church with complex sound, lighting, video production, and graphic presentation systems. Simply stated, the buck stops with “the person in the booth.” To illustrate my point: The most sophisticated, well-designed sound system can sound like it was installed in a phone booth with the wrong person running it. And in most cases, it is not the fault of the person at the console. I have never met a sound console operator who intentionally set out to produce bad sound, or for that matter, feedback.
So what is the solution? First, invest in the personS then in the equipment. If the person has the personal tools (i.e. ability to hear, in the case of the sound tech, and an understanding of technical stuff), with the proper support, he or she will be successful.

It is to the person in the booth and all those techs outside the booth as well that this column is dedicated. Topics in future months will include everything from recruiting the individual volunteer to building and maintaining a strong team. If you have specific topics you would like me to cover, please contact me through the magazine or my web site.

My personal desire is that you will find this column beneficial and informative. I hope that it will assist you in building and maintaining a tech team full of dedicated, committed people who will use their technical abilities to represent your church with technical excellence, and more importantly- to the GLORY OF GOD.