It happened one Sunday. A Minister of Music decided spontaneously to add a praise chorus to worship. He speaks to announce the extra song, catching the FOH operator off guard. The computer graphics person notices the Music Minister awkwardly gesturing to the microphone. He nudges the FOH op, and then has to scramble to find the song lyrics graphic for the worship center screens. The Music Minister says as his mic is unmuted, “If I could ever get this mic back on I …hello, ah, there we go, finally.” The FOH person’s countenance falls as his face warms with a red glow. Not a major problem, but a fairly common one. The kind of mishap that if repeated, can lead to an atmosphere of disrespect and mistrust.
You can almost hear the sssrink sound, like a sword being pulled from its sheath . . . the appearance and thrust of the index finger of blame . . . the shaking and verbal slashing can leave the recipients emotionally wounded. When it is wielded between co-workers in church ministry, it is especially hurtful. Two ministry areas, often prone to finger pointing, are music and media. The areas they share need to move from sources of conflict, to points of unity.
I have had the chance to serve on staff with a number of gifted Ministers of Music. I’ve been told in conversations with them, that when music directors get together in conferences, a frequent topic of discussion and complaint is the media people of their churches. On the flip side, when Media Ministers convene, venting frustrations about music personnel is a favorite pastime.
Music and technical support often share the common ground of worship center live sound, recorded or broadcast audio, lighting for live events and for video cameras, and video projection content during praise/worship. Battle lines can be scratched into that ground which divide the front, rather than uniting the guard. The church has enough spiritual warfare to deal with without internal strife. Infighting is contrary to the mission that should be shared between soldiers of the Cross.
Me/Mine – You/Yours – We/Ours
Conflicts start like turf wars. Ministry areas can be claimed like they’re our own property, not to be trespassed upon.
When a problem arises in one of the crossover zones, we can become very protective of our turf. It progresses then to assigning blame to the trespasser. Lasting resolve only occurs when me/mine and you/yours changes to we/ours. Music and tech people should accept any obstacle as something that can be best overcome together. Responsibility is best borne on more than one set of shoulders.
Solo or Team Sport?
In the church, the contest should always be against spiritual darkness, not each other. Whether we operate tennis style, as individuals, or football style, as a team, we should be playing on the same side. Ultimately, a team effort is the only winning offense. In a team mindset, each player knows his or her part, but always proceeds with the cooperative goal in sight. A team only wins or loses together. They support one another, cover each other’s blindside, and sacrifice self for the success of the team.
Nothing beats constructive, family-style communication followed by first-hand experience to foster understanding of each other’s responsibilities and desires. In one church I know of, the sanctuary sound booth was located at the highest point of the upper balcony. The Music Minister was invited to sit in the booth during a service. Following worship, he said he “never realized how difficult it was to see and hear from up there.”
Music personnel should take in a service or two from the FOH location, or in the TV/video control room, observe the crew in action, and listen to the differences in live and recorded sound. They could look at videos of services to note the need for different mic placements for recording from in-house, and see how light levels can greatly effect what the video cameras see. On the other hand, media staff should listen to sound in the worship center from different places in the room. If possible, they would benefit from even singing in the choir for a while to listen to the choir monitors, and experience the lighting in their eyes instead of from behind.
They should have a dialog with the Music Minister to connect with his or her vision for the dramatic effect of lighting and other elements during special productions. The Media Minister could then express the need for enough light level to make quality video. The more open communication and shared experiences, the more “I never knew that” will be a part of everyone’s phraseology.
This is key to music and media team members working together in Christ-like harmony. Each need to value the other’s knowledge, experience, and expertise. Neither should talk down to the other, nor badly about each other when they are not around. At no time should either side voice a public scolding. Negative attitudes in the church membership will be fed by witnessing angry words between staff. In a worship center, there is no place to hide when one person focuses the eyes of the congregation on the other in an accusing way.
In a particular church, one of the instrumentalists felt the freedom to move the microphones after they had been placed by the media staff for a recording mix. In an atmosphere of mutual respect, that shouldn’t happen, just as a technician would overstep his bounds to move the trumpet player’s position to the middle of the woodwinds section. Respect breeds trust, and trust builds confidence in your teammates.
A respected Music Minister, in a church with a major broadcast TV ministry, once said that he didn’t care how the TV production was enhanced or weakened by what was done in the sanctuary because he “made the effort to get up and come to church, why shouldn’t they?” On one occasion I heard a Media Minister voice the perspective, “House sound is secondary to broadcast audio because so many more people will hear it through TV, radio, and the internet than in the sanctuary.” Teammates shouldn’t think that way. In these days when Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven” directives for church and personal growth are so popular, music and media ought to provide an example of bonding together under a common reason for their work. The Music Ministry exalts Christ in worship. The Media Ministry communicates Christ through the vehicles of technology. Christ Jesus Himself needs to be the shared motivation.
Wouldn’t it be great if when music and media folks get together they could speak about the other with honor and gratitude?
Battle lines can be erased when pointing fingers become joined hands. Read Ephesians 4:15-16.