In the movie Groundhog Day, arrogant TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is caught in a time loop and repeats the title day many times until he learns to improve his life. In the same way, tech teams often repeat the same mistakes without addressing the causes and solutions at hand. To get out of the dreary “Loop of Doom,” here are some simple ways to stop the madness and make things better in 2018:
1. Configure the console for how the service flows. There is no law that says channel one on the console must be kick drum. With multi-layered digital boards, it makes no sense to continually flip among layers to find the important channels. Traditional layouts were designed for single-surface analog environments. Put the most important inputs, which require attention and adjustment, on the top layer so the speaking pastor, worship leader, lead instruments and media playback are together. Inputs needing less attention can be relegated down-layer. A variation on this theme is to place primary inputs plus related groups and DCAs on a single master layer for simple control of everything.
2. Develop a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for how, when, and where things are done. The service should not sound different just because the operator changes. Develop a base mix among all the FOH engineers and use that template every time. Have a standard method for disposing of used batteries so they can never find their way into the pastor’s bodypack transmitter again. Automatically trigger a re-order of gaff tape and expendables when stock reaches a certain point. Always power up and power down the systems the same way, every time.
3. Internalize the fact that it is better to be effective than to be right. BG (Before Google) ill-informed techs were kept at bay by knowledgeable professionals. Now, however, everyone is an expert. There are many ways to do the same action with similar results. The key is to use the method best suited to the situation and acceptable to the majority. Just as churches split over trivial matters, tech teams tend to divide into camps based on preferred ways of doing things. As servants, our role is to provide an environment conducive to worship, and that means laying aside our pet peeves and rolling with it. So, whether it is how gaff is put down, the “best” DI to use on keys, or what EQ to dial in for the BGVs, it is all insignificant compared to creating unity among the techs in order to provide the best service of worship to the congregation. If all else fails in this endeavor, bring donuts!
4. Since tech is a dependent art, pre-arrange with the worship leader what is expected of the worship team prior to the start of rehearsal. Tech teams receive the brunt of the fall-out when the band isn’t ready for rehearsal. A wise worship leader will help the techs create a list of requirements before rehearsal can start. Guitarists should have their own batteries and cables. Vocalists should know their assigned handheld and confirm it is on and operating. One way to make this happen is the $10 penalty ascribed to any member not ready when rehearsal is set to start. The funds go into a collection for the end-of-year team party.
5. Find a way to recognize that this is a “get to” not a “have to” responsibility. Tech burnout is prevalent in the church. All the pain of dealing with upset church members, unruly drummers, hyper pastors, and chronic low budgets wears out the spirit over time. Somewhere in the midst of the constant drain, there must be a source of fresh water or the well runs dry. The source can be regularly scheduled tech-only “vent and repent” Bible study sessions coupled with occasional Sundays off with the family, but it must occur or the result will be a negative attitude, or worse. God can make it happen without us, but chooses to use us anyway, so the fact remains we “get to” do this work each week and that, my friends, is an honor and a high calling.