You may have read my post on my surprise trip to see Allison Kraus & Union Station last week. That was on Friday night. On Sunday, I found myself once again in the presence of greatness. This time it was not someone famous. Chances are you've never heard of any of the people I was around (unless you're a Crosswinds regular...). Just the same, these are great people. Of whom do I speak so highly? Sunday afternoon after our service, we had a picnic to celebrate our technical team. Nearly 30 people arrived at a wonderful spot overlooking the lake to eat some good food and spend some time together.
Crosswinds has been blessed by God with some really great technical volunteers. We have some 25 that serve on weekends. They are not professional tech people, but I've seen every single one grow in their skill level over the past year. The production quality of our services has never been higher because of their dedication to excellence. Not only do they come to serve, and serve well, but they do it with great attitudes. Honestly, they are some of the most joyful people I know. There isn't an attitude among them and they all love working together.
As I was watching everyone interact at the picnic, I thinking of just how blessed we are here. Then I thought back to some of the other churches I've been a part of where we didn't have this kind of a crew. Maybe that's your church. So I wondered what is it that makes it so good here. I have a few thoughts as to what might be contributing to our great volunteer team.
First off, we just have great people. People really do make the difference. They are servants, they love God, they love God's people and they love each other. So, I think the first key to developing a great team is to recruit people like that--regardless of their skill level. Skills can be learned, but if someone does not have the heart of a servant, they're not ready for a tech team.
Second, this church really, genuinely appreciates it's volunteers. I've spent many years laboring in obscurity, mixing sound or doing lights, with no one ever saying thanks. Tech people by nature are "behind the scenes" people, and don't desire a limelight. However, we all need to be acknowledged and thanked. The staff at Crosswinds is very intentional in regularly acknowledging and thanking our tech team. We don't have cookouts every week (though some suggested that would be a good idea...), but we do say thanks a lot.
Third, we really try to provide useful, high-quality training. Nothing is more frustrating for a volunteer than to be expected to perform at a high level of excellence, and feeling like they don't know what they are doing. Honestly, it's one of the most unfair thing a church can do, expecting too much without providing proper training. We also try to raise the bar regularly and pull the team to new heights. Notice I didn't say push. I and our video/lighting director are constantly learning new things, and as we do, we share them. We're not asking the volunteers to do anything we're not willing to do.
Finally, we do try to have fun. I often say, "We're worshiping God, it should be fun." I've been in churches where the tech team is a pressure cooker. One false move and you're fried, sometimes very publicly. At Crosswinds, we try to plan as much as we can, prepare as much as possible, and then have fun during the service. Most times it works. And when it doesn't, we try to laugh about it, and then fix the problem.
I wouldn't say this is an exhaustive list, nor do I think we've got it completely nailed. However, we're doing better this year than we did last. I think it's a commitment to continuous improvement that keeps making it better week after week.
Are you blessed with some great volunteers? Tell us your "secret sauce" recipe. Are you struggling to build a great team? Consider some of these suggestions, and see what God does.