As a past Minister of Music for more than fifteen years, I’ve been on the hot side of the microphone for enough time to have a great appreciation for those who have held the fate of a service within a button push. As the Director of Technical Ministries for Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, MI., I now sit in the “crow’s nest” as the button pusher. In some sense, I guess this may be God’s way of paying me back for those infrequent times I may have shown less than appreciation for the technical people I have worked with over the years as Music Minister.
Anyway, I do have a unique perspective on technical ministry having come from the artistic side. The shift hasn’t been easy, and it may not be permanent, yet it has been good for me to have taken on this role for the past five years. In fact, I would encourage every Worship Pastor to exchange duties for one Sunday with the sound engineer. I’m certain it would lead to hearts being broken, confessions being shared and attitudes shifting tremendously; in both directions.
As a “techy”, I do have some suggestions for my co-laborers in Christ:
First: remember we are an integral part of worship for our congregation.
Our approach to our duties speak volumes to those we are serving. Our position is one of the most difficult in any ministry. The joke around Calvary Church is, “Do you know who the best sound technician at Calvary Church is?” Answer, “Whoever is not doing it at the moment!” With our position, comes a certain level of anticipated frustration. Sound, the mixes, volumes, equalization: all of these are open to interpretation and preference, and unfortunately, many people have preferences that will not match ours. We must accept that negative feedback will be a part of the job! (pun intended)
Second: learn to anticipate what the pastor, musicians and participants in our services really need.
I consistently ask our Music Pastor and Senior Pastor how things “feel”. It’s nerve wracking enough to be standing on a stage, lit up by television lights glaring in their eyes with four thousand more eyes staring back at them. What leadership doesn’t need is a nagging question in the back of their minds as to whether people are hearing and understanding what they are doing. Part of our job is to help them have a sense of security. Are the monitor levels okay, is there anything they would like more or less of, is there anything I can do to help them? Usually, the answer is “no” and things are fine, but if there is a need, I have given them the freedom to express it by asking the question. I think we call that communication: and good communication will develop a team sense. We really don’t have ESP, so talk!
Last for today: try to keep the whole picture in view.
It’s easy for us to look at our church through the eyes of our own area of ministry. But, part of the definition of a church is community; and remembering we are but one part of the entire picture is important. Sure, it’s upsetting at times when the vote for those pieces of equipment we need has to be tabled for a while. And, yes, there are times we all go home scratching our heads and wondering just what elders and leaders are really thinking. But, perhaps their choice was between a new amplifier or keeping our mission commitment to help starving children in a foreign land. Ouch, that hurt, didn’t it? Well, get over it. It’s the real world in which we live. Trust Christ, it’s His Church and He knows what He’s doing with it.
So my fellow technicians, be encouraged and remember: you are where you are because God has placed you there to learn something, to help someone and to serve everyone.