Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

It’s All About The Volunteers, Baby!

Not the Benjamins or the Pentiums (sorry for the obscure pop-culture references…).I’ll get right to the point, a technical ministry in a church runs on volunteers. That may seem obvious to some, but I’ve become more aware of what I consider to be a disturbing trend in some churches. As churches get larger and begin to add specialized staff, it seems that volunteers sometimes become regarded as a necessary evil.

I was recently talking with some folks from another church about technical arts directors they encountered. It seemed most had little regard for the “volunteer thing,” and would actually just prefer to do it themselves. One thing I’ve felt God teaching me over the last 2 years or so is that people matter so much more than the process or product. If we as church staff are not investing in the lives of our volunteers, we are not only missing a huge opportunity, but also failing to do what God’s called us to.

Something I’ve seen happen far too often in my 20 years of church life is a pattern of tech people being part of the team for a while then suddenly, feeling like “it’s time to move on.” They leave the ministry, sometimes the church and go somewhere else where they will serve for a while, then leave again. Why is this so? Here’s my theory:

Tech people, by nature, tend to be less relational. We like our gear, and we like to make stuff work. After a few years of watching the people on stage get all the accolades for “a great service,” and never feeling appreciated, they leave–hoping to find something better down the road. Because a tech arts director or worship pastor never invested in them, they feel no sense of connection to the ministry. We all need someone to invest in us. Because the tech ministry is likely to be the primary point of contact with the Body, that task should fall to the tech arts director.

But how can that happen with volunteers are viewed with disdain? That’s what I find troubling. For me, the volunteers provide the energy for what I do. And I’m not a people person! But I really get excited seeing volunteers grow–whether in skill level, personally or spiritually. When we have the opportunity to invest in the life of someone, that pays dividends that we may not even appreciate in this life.

I really believe the role of a church leader is not to become indispensable, or even to multiply themselves. Rather, I think we should be multiplying our influence. By building teams of growing capabilities, and investing in the lives of others, we can truly make an impact on our world. Sure, if the church just hired “professional” talent to produce media, mix sound, run lights and video, the overall quality of the production would likely be higher. But the quality of the ministry would surely not be. When we allow volunteers to use the gifts given them by God in service to the Body, everyone wins. It’s up to us to figure out how to make that happen.

14 Comments

  1. roger@tbclc.org

    just found your blog

    great article on volunteers!

    I’m a new full time media minister- looking to build up our volunteer base

    any suggestions on how to get people involved/attracted to the media ministry opportunities?

  2. roger@tbclc.org

    just found your blog

    great article on volunteers!

    I’m a new full time media minister- looking to build up our volunteer base

    any suggestions on how to get people involved/attracted to the media ministry opportunities?

  3. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Thanks for reading, Roger!

    Building a volunteer base is challenging, but here are some suggestions. Talk to your current volunteers, people tend to hang out with people they share similar interests with. Your current team may know of more people who have an interest in media.

    Demystify it–offer training and support. Make it a community, not a technical challenge.

    Depending on what you mean by “media,” you could be looking for budding filmmakers or sound guys, or lighting people or Media Shout operators. Look to the students in your church. Often, they are more technically savvy than adults, or at least not afraid of technology. Use their enthusiasm to attract adults.

    Provide training–whatever that means. You may have to buy some videos, or bringing someone in, or take the team to a seminar. Do what you need to do to equip them. Along that same vein, don’t take on too much production before the team is ready. Make sure they “win” with some easy projects or simpler production before raising the bar.

    Appreciate them–make sure they know you really care about them as people. Take them out for coffee and desert, or have an annual cookout for them. Build a team. Once the core looks like they’re having fun, others will be attracted.

    It takes time, and a lot of investing in others lives. Don’t try to grow too fast. Most of all, have fun! We’re worshiping God after all!

    Peace.

  4. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Thanks for reading, Roger!

    Building a volunteer base is challenging, but here are some suggestions. Talk to your current volunteers, people tend to hang out with people they share similar interests with. Your current team may know of more people who have an interest in media.

    Demystify it–offer training and support. Make it a community, not a technical challenge.

    Depending on what you mean by “media,” you could be looking for budding filmmakers or sound guys, or lighting people or Media Shout operators. Look to the students in your church. Often, they are more technically savvy than adults, or at least not afraid of technology. Use their enthusiasm to attract adults.

    Provide training–whatever that means. You may have to buy some videos, or bringing someone in, or take the team to a seminar. Do what you need to do to equip them. Along that same vein, don’t take on too much production before the team is ready. Make sure they “win” with some easy projects or simpler production before raising the bar.

    Appreciate them–make sure they know you really care about them as people. Take them out for coffee and desert, or have an annual cookout for them. Build a team. Once the core looks like they’re having fun, others will be attracted.

    It takes time, and a lot of investing in others lives. Don’t try to grow too fast. Most of all, have fun! We’re worshiping God after all!

    Peace.

  5. karen.kogler@sbcglobal.net

    I’m totally not a techie, but came across your post because church volunteers are an interest of mine, too. I agree with your diagnosis and your suggestions to Roger. All church volunteering is really about the people, not the task. Perhaps being busy is part of the problem–it takes more time to care about the people you’re working with than it does simply to get the task done. One key thing necessary before things change–the senior leadership need to tell the staff and other leaders that what will be measured as their job performance is the number of volunteers they’ve mentored, trained, involved, supported, delegated to, etc.

  6. karen.kogler@sbcglobal.net

    I’m totally not a techie, but came across your post because church volunteers are an interest of mine, too. I agree with your diagnosis and your suggestions to Roger. All church volunteering is really about the people, not the task. Perhaps being busy is part of the problem–it takes more time to care about the people you’re working with than it does simply to get the task done. One key thing necessary before things change–the senior leadership need to tell the staff and other leaders that what will be measured as their job performance is the number of volunteers they’ve mentored, trained, involved, supported, delegated to, etc.

  7. zach@thezach.net

    Something I have noticed though is working in the technical area of a church is a gift that some people don’t have. Just like some people may never be able to lead worship.

    A lot of people think managing a mixer is just pushing buttons and spinning nobs – its an art form (I know, maybe a bit of an overstatement). One of the pastors at my church wanted his daughter trained on media shout. I told him its not as easy as it looks and had her run half the service and it just didn’t appear she had the aptitude for it. His responce what “Media shout is only hiting space bar”

  8. zach@thezach.net

    Something I have noticed though is working in the technical area of a church is a gift that some people don’t have. Just like some people may never be able to lead worship.

    A lot of people think managing a mixer is just pushing buttons and spinning nobs – its an art form (I know, maybe a bit of an overstatement). One of the pastors at my church wanted his daughter trained on media shout. I told him its not as easy as it looks and had her run half the service and it just didn’t appear she had the aptitude for it. His responce what “Media shout is only hiting space bar”

  9. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Zach, you’re so right. A lot of people think what we do is easy. Sadly, that’s ignorance. I like to invite worship leaders to shadow a sound tech for a weekend to see what we do and get an appreciation for it. It’s not just pushing a button or 200 here and there. Same with Media Shout.

    See my post, “Be a Soundman–In Two Hours!” http://www.churchtecharts.org/archives/32

  10. mike@churchtecharts.org

    Zach, you’re so right. A lot of people think what we do is easy. Sadly, that’s ignorance. I like to invite worship leaders to shadow a sound tech for a weekend to see what we do and get an appreciation for it. It’s not just pushing a button or 200 here and there. Same with Media Shout.

    See my post, “Be a Soundman–In Two Hours!” http://www.churchtecharts.org/archives/32

  11. zach@thezach.net

    Yea because of this attitude at the church I used to be at among other things I choose to leave, which was an extremely hard decision to make.

    Church was becoming something I dreaded… I would go into it wondering what crap I would have to deal with instead of getting the joy I used to from serving and worshiping God.

  12. zach@thezach.net

    Yea because of this attitude at the church I used to be at among other things I choose to leave, which was an extremely hard decision to make.

    Church was becoming something I dreaded… I would go into it wondering what crap I would have to deal with instead of getting the joy I used to from serving and worshiping God.

  13. techbex@gmail.com

    Hey Zach if you left ur welcome to come serve with us! We have fun and welcome anyone! I have, like everyone, had challenges with volunteers and not being appreciated etc. One of the ways we make our ministry effective is the worship pastor and I (tech director) work together to make sure the whole tech team prays with the band before the service begins, that we fellowship with each other outside of our regular church environment, and that we also go above and beyond to make sure that each volunteer only works the booth once a month. I want people to put God and there families first. 99% of the time people did not join the church to “work” somewhere and they leave frustrated for the fact that we need volunteers and we use them and abuse them. To my surprise cutting back volunteer hours to one weekend a month has generated more volunteers. We also have teams and families working in the tech booth together now. Husband and Wife teams running Media Shout and Lights, and Single mom’s and their kids running gear too. Its so cool to see a family being built in the Tech world!!!

  14. techbex@gmail.com

    Hey Zach if you left ur welcome to come serve with us! We have fun and welcome anyone! I have, like everyone, had challenges with volunteers and not being appreciated etc. One of the ways we make our ministry effective is the worship pastor and I (tech director) work together to make sure the whole tech team prays with the band before the service begins, that we fellowship with each other outside of our regular church environment, and that we also go above and beyond to make sure that each volunteer only works the booth once a month. I want people to put God and there families first. 99% of the time people did not join the church to “work” somewhere and they leave frustrated for the fact that we need volunteers and we use them and abuse them. To my surprise cutting back volunteer hours to one weekend a month has generated more volunteers. We also have teams and families working in the tech booth together now. Husband and Wife teams running Media Shout and Lights, and Single mom’s and their kids running gear too. Its so cool to see a family being built in the Tech world!!!

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