I remember it like it was yesterday. I had been working part-time as an FOH engineer at a large church for a few weeks, and I was there to mix some weeks and keep things on track the rest of the time. But this weekend, the train was running downhill with no brakes and there was a sharp left curve coming up.
This weekend, we had, let’s say “issues” with the monitor mix. After a few rounds of tweaks and adjustments, someone on stage answered the question, “What would you like in the monitors?” by yelling, “THEY NEED EVERYTHING IN THE MONITORS! THEY JUST NEED IT MIXED CORRECTLY!!”
Though over 6 feet tall, and one of the nicest guys in the world, I looked back at the volunteer FOH guy and watched just crumble.
As I think back on it, what we had there—at that time—were two teams; and the relationship was very adversarial. You could feel it in the room. It was uncomfortable. And no one wanted to deal with it. Except for the new media coordinator and me. How we did it is another post, but what I want to talk about today is the concept of being one team with two disciplines, not two teams.
We are all part of the worship team—musicians, vocalists, techs, creatives—all one team. When the team is functioning correctly, there is no “us and them” because there is only “us.” The tech team doesn’t exist to simply make the band look good, we are all there to be part of the team that makes Jesus look good.
When we are one team, we are constantly building up each other, not tearing down. Our motivation is to better the overall experience, not gain an advantage over the “other side.” It’s not about getting what we deserve (something we probably don’t want, but that’s a deeper theological conversation), but about figuring out how we can best encourage our teammates.
Both disciplines—tech and music—are vitally important to the worship experience. We expect the musicians and singers to come prepared; knowing charts, songs & lyrics. But what about the technical artists? How do they prepare? How do they practice? Do they think they have to practice? Do they consider themselves part of the worship team or have they been marginalized as “monkeys who push buttons?”
Sometimes the tech discipline marginalizes themselves. We hide in the tech booth, talk only to each other and say “No” a lot. Sometimes, the stereotype of the grumpy tech guy is more accurate than it should be.
Other times, we are marginalized by the church. Many churches think nothing of paying the worship leader and often musicians because they know that is one way to ensure a level of quality for their worship service. But many of those same churches won’t employ a technical director, because “it’s just tech, how hard can it be. They expect volunteers—many of whom have no training at all—to somehow engineer concert quality sound on substandard equipment.
Regardless of the situation, we need to take the initiative to build community. In every case I’ve been at a church with difficult relationships between musicians and tech, we as the tech team made the first move, and that resulted in a better situation for everyone. It can be a long, trying road at times, but it’s worth it.
Not only does it make your job easier each week, the experience for the congregation is improved as well. I’m not a highly relational guy, so this takes a lot of work for me—and I suspect the same is true for many of you. But just as tech is becoming a champion of helping churches work together, we need to champion the cause of team unity.
One team, two disciplines. That’s the biblical model of unity. Imagine how much more your team can accomplish working together?