As houses of worship continue the paradigm shift of moving from a traditional to contemporary style of worship, the concept of building healthy technical teams- consisting of people who will end up operating important technical equipment- is still in many cases, an afterthought. IN actuality, this is putting it somewhat lightly. In some cases, the concept of building healthy technical teams is not thought of at all.
Churches in general still seem to lean on the Worship Leader to instinctively provide the right technical teams for every given scenario. It is rare that a church will go through the necessary process to match technical requirements with the right people. What ends up happening in many cases is that the Worship Leader is saddled with the burden of pulling the right people together for the right job instinctively, in addition to doing their main gig: leading worship.
The first question that really should be asked, before a church even begins to discuss the “technical side of things” is: Are you currently building teams and praying for specific leaders for those teams? One would be surprised at the customary response to that question, which is usually “We forgot about that!”
Team Building: Finding Volunteers
Here’s a surprising fact. The people you are looking for- those effective team leaders with the right attitude and willingness to help- they’re quite possibly sitting right in your congregation! Here are three reasons why they don’t come pouring out of their seats to volunteer.
The first is “perception”. Each Sunday morning when the congregation finally begins to wander into the worship facility from the lobby, they sit down and may have a perception that everything is running fine and that they are not needed. In reality, things may not actually be running that smoothly. Behind the scenes, some of the volunteers have called in sick, half the video crew is late, and the two folks that have scrambled for the last hour to get things set up are in need of CPR because they have collapsed! Sound familiar?
When technical disciplines need help, let the congregation know! Let them know “audibly” from the platform, “visibly” through slide support announcements and “tangibly” through the bulletin/program. Tell them that you need volunteers in certain areas. This will definitely help break down the wall of mistaken perception.
Second is “intimidation”. Many times individuals that have an interest in the technical side of things wander into the tech areas, and before they can even ask a question, their eyes bug out at the sight of all of the buttons, faders, knobs, lights… seconds later they are gone.
This is a very easy situation to remedy with the right leadership. When you see someone “hovering” around your technical areas, take the time to embrace their interest. If their eyes being to widen, make contact and let them know that even though a technical system or position may seem intimidating at first, everyone had to start somewhere! A patient leader can spend the time to teach a willing volunteer the core concepts so that the intimidation factor will begin to dissipate. You never know, this person may end up being a key addition to your technical team, they just had to get over the initial intimidation hurdle first. Doesn’t it feel good knowing that you gave them a chance to get there?
The third and often the most common reason for people jumping at the chance to volunteer is: leadership not taking care of volunteers!
The importance of taking care of volunteers is paramount. There is no way you would be able to do what you do without them. Love them, praise them, and acknowledge them constantly. They are your life blood when it comes to the vision at hand. Keeping them spiritually healthy is of utmost importance.
On the technical side of things, it is also important to provide education to keep them fresh in the area(s) they love to serve in. Providing training in a certain discipline at least every quarter keeps your current team members up to speed. It also provides a time that is relatively stress-free to invite people to come and see what it is like to run the technical side of the service. This training time becomes a direct method of breaking down the perception and intimidation factors.
Finally, leaders and future leaders, if you don’t take anything else from of this article, please consider the following concerning taking care of your teams, volunteers and creating an environment of true success in your mission…
You have worked hard and you have finally established a technical crew of awesome individuals. As a Pastor, Tech Director, Children’s Director, or any type of leader in the church, it is essential to surround yourself with people that will embrace your vision and follow you. You, as their leader, will be a very important person in their lives- spiritually and in task.
The simple, yet sometimes intimidating key to this cycle of keeping your leaders and teams intact is simply that you must invest in their lives!
As you grow your teams, you will appoint leaders to lead each discipline.
Meeting with them weekly, monthly or as often as needed will provide the “touch” they need. When you do meet with each other, try not to bring anything up about “task”, rather use this time to invest in them spiritually. Find out how they are doing, how their marriage or single life is going, where they are in the Bible, where they are with tithing, and especially what things you should be praying about for them. At first, it might be a little awkward, however after you have secured the trust factor and opened up to one another, it can truly be a life changing experience. Meeting with your volunteers can create a special bond that keeps your teams tight, strong, happy and confident in their task. It may also serve to create incredible friendships.
Christ had those friendships with His twelve and we know the results of that. We, as always, need to heed from His example and it will provide success in all that we do!
1-Take it slow. Don’t be in a rush. So, you can’t do that big production or that video or that cool lighting idea you had for a couple more weeks? Big deal. There will be lots and lots of Sundays to do that once you have the right person.
2-Over Communicate. List the expectations. Take the person to lunch and talk about the expectations as you’re recruiting. After lunch, email them and recap the expectations. Have someone else on the team talk to them about expectations and then after their first weekend on the “job” remind them of what you talked about.
3-The “job” is only a front. Almost all jobs in the church are a front for the real thing going on, that is, working with people. Your tech person will sooner or later (probably sooner) have more difficulty with people than with tech. Your job is to serve that person, his/her family, and help them be a better person. Help them relate to people. Help them deal with people. Don’t let them hide behind the tech side of the job.
4-Your job is not to have the best technical production. If your pastor tells you that your job is the production and not the people, find a different church. Great rule – Love people and use things. Don’t use people and love things.
– Jonathan Foster
Keeping volunteers engaged
• We gather our entire volunteer team quarterly. Sometimes, that is social in nature (a cookout for families). Sometimes, it is all business ie: here are some new things going on.
• We send birthday cards to our volunteers, our staff writes a note and signs each one.
• In between 2 of our services, we take 20-minutes to sit down with the team serving on a given weekend and spend a bit of time asking for their prayer requests, doing a little devotional, and then praying together. Just an opportunity to remove ourselves from the ‘task’ a bit and be in authentic community together, even if briefly.
• We send flowers or planters to our volunteers when there is a birth or death in their family.
• We use Facebook, Twitter, etc. to our advantage to keep volunteers up-to-date as well as setup forums where they can feed back critique and praise regarding our services when they are not serving.
– Daryl Cripe
Grace Community Church