I am a new volunteer. That’s kind of weird to say after spending 10 years on staff at various churches as a TD or Audio Director. But here I am. My wife and I have been attending a really great church near our home for the last six months or so, and I’ve recently joined the audio team, mixing once a month.
A few people have joked that I chose the church based on the console—we have an SD8—but really, it’s the overall feel and philosophy of the church that drew us in. It’s just a happy coincidence that I know the desk like the back of my hand. Maybe better…
As a new volunteer, it’s given me a new perspective on how to assimilate new people into the team. Now, I’ll say right up front that my church generally does a great job. I’ve felt very welcomed, and overall it’s been a terrific experience. I have no complaints here at all. But, going through the process reminded me of why I did what I did as a TD, and reinforced that I was on the right track. A few things you can do that will really help your volunteers come up to speed quicker:
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know I’m a big fan of documentation. Input sheets, stage plots, output patching, procedures, checklists, schedules, anything you do more than once should be written down and available. Ideally, it should be available online during the week. We’re using Planning Center Online—something you all should be using—for scheduling and management. Every week, the input sheet and stage plots are available for me to look over before I get there. The song list and tracks are also there so I can familiarize myself with them. We have laminated a chart showing the Aviom patch.
It’s important to remember that your new volunteer doesn’t know the way the console is set up the way you do. I know the SD8 as well as anyone, but I’m still learning where things are and how it’s all patched and routed. That part is not second nature yet. I refer to the patch sheet often because I don’t know it all yet.
Stick Close The First Few Weeks
Again, remember that your new volunteer doesn’t know where to do, what to do and what all the little things are each weekend. Do we pray before rehearsal or after? Is there a pre-service meeting? Where is it? Standing by ready to answer their questions, or better yet, telling them what’s going to come next will go a long way to ease the nerves for the new volunteer. My TD did a great job with this. He was in the booth, helping me get set up, talking me through the day and answering all my questions.
Extend Grace. Lots of It
New volunteers are going to make mistakes. Heck, highly experienced techs will make mistakes. How you respond to those early mistakes will set the tone for how that volunteer will serve in your ministry. If you get upset and beat them up for messing up, it’s not going to make them want to come back next week.
Again, my TD has been great in this regard. This past weekend, I totally forgot to record the service Saturday night. We never did that at Coast, and my muscle memory kicked in and I just didn’t do it. Unfortunately, the broadcast audio guy uses the tracks Sunday morning to get a mix dialed up before the band arrives. Except of course this weekend because there were no tracks. Totally my bad. But, instead of freaking out, David simply said, “Ok, well, I’ll have him work on patching and setting up his console then. I’m sorry.” He apologized to me after I screwed up. Now, I felt terrible, but two things are of note: First, I’m not going to let that define me or keep me from wanting to serve again. And second, I won’t make that mistake again.
I’m sure there will be some more lessons that I’ll learn as I go through this assimilation process. But for now, hopefully that helps.