Advice From An Old Guy: Keep It Clean

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If cleanliness is next to godliness, there must be a lot of really un-godly tech guys. I am actually shocked sometimes when I walk into churches to meet with them and practically stumble across their stage because it’s such a mess. I’ve had to go troubleshoot systems yet I couldn’t get to the racks were surrounded by piles and piles of miscellaneous crap. I understand that a lot of that disappears once the work lights are turned off, but still. It’s the principle of the thing.

Few things say, “I don’t take my job seriously,” more than a messy work environment. When senior leadership is walking through a messy tech booth, or stumbling around backstage, it’s really hard for them to agree that you’re on top of your game. I’ve met with tech guys who lament the fact that no one takes them seriously. Then I see their stage and work area, and I immediately know what part of the problem is.

“I Don’t Have Time to Clean!”
Been there, done that. I’ve been on staff at three churches—and all of them were a mess when I got there. For me, job one was cleaning up and taking inventory. I had to know what we had, where it was and figure out how to store it effectively. Yes, it takes time. Yes, I had services to do and media to make. But spending some time cleaning will pay huge dividends down the road.
First, you can actually find stuff. So when the worship pastor surprises you with a last-minute addition, you know where to grab another DI, mic and cable. Instead of digging through 10 boxes of crap, you get what you need quickly. That’s a win.

Second, your team and your leadership will start taking you more seriously. When they see that you’re treating this like the professional job it is, they will step up their respect of you. Again, I know of what I speak. I came into three churches where the opinion of the tech department was pretty low. I was looked at negatively in two of them. But, after a few months when the stage was clean and safe, the storage rooms were cleaned up and things were working as they should, people started paying attention.

Clean is Safe
When we have people walking across our stages in the dark and there is crap everywhere, we are inviting a trip and fall. Now, the hapless worship team member may not sue the church. But, do you really want your team members tripping and possibly getting hurt because you were too lazy to clean up? To me, that’s just unacceptable.

Step one is organizing all cable runs, and consolidating them to as few bundles as possible. Step two is lining the stage with spike tape for safe walkways. Step three is building or buying snakes to minimize the number of individual mic cables running about.

Organization is Key
I’ll tell you from experience that one of the smartest things you can buy for your tech department is a rolling mechanic’s tool chest. The skinny drawers are perfect for mic’s, DIs and misc gak. The bigger drawers are for cased mic’s, Avalon D5s, tools, whatever. You can pick them up for a few hundred dollars to close to a thousand depending on how big you want. Being on wheels means you can easily move it between locked storage and the stage. Plus, they almost all come with keys so you can lock it to limit access.

You also probably need a bunch of shelves, stacking bins and a workbench. Again, all this is easily sourced at the home center for not a ton of cash. Once you are organized, you’ll know what you have and if it goes missing, you’ll know a lot sooner.

How Much Do You Care?
There’s an old saying, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” A sloppy, disorganized mess of a tech department tells everyone you don’t really care—at which point, it doesn’t matter how much you know. By caring for the stuff under care, people will begin to respect you.

View all the posts in this series.