I think we’d all agree that in these days everyone seems to be cramming more things into their days, nights, and weekends. I believe this has become a cultural norm that affects worship teams in unique ways. For some of us, that translates into internal stress, while for others, it is expressed in our lack of patience for those around us. For some, it gets us out of bed at 4:30 a.m. so we can grab the day by the horns and wrestle it to the ground before it starts kicking back. So, what are we to do about all of this?
WHERE IS YOUR TIME LEAKING?
Regardless of whether you lead a team or serve on one, the first place I’d suggest starting is by taking a hard look at where you’re
Budgeting your time is key! We live in an era where people tend to rely on credit to spend more money than they have on hand. This pervasive mindset overflows into how we spend our time. Let’s start by thinking of your time in a given week as a ten-dollar bill. Noting that you can’t spend more time than you’ve got, are you accurately predicting where you’ll spend your time? At the end of the week do you have any time left over to put into the ‘time bank’ so you can invest it into your key relationships?
If you answered no to the above questions, you’re in good company. Practically speaking, ‘getting there’ usually means setting our sights a bit lower, and spending a bit less time on things that we’re most passionate about. Akin to buying a new car versus cleaning out the gutters before the rainy season. Many, if not most creatives, err on the side of spending way too much time on doing something that is driven by emotion, versus starting off with the most urgent items like practicing the songs before rehearsal!
Back to the ten-dollar bill analogy, I’d suggest pulling out a piece of paper and drawing two circles. In the first, draw a pie chart documenting how you spent your worship or tech team time for the previous week and the second for how you can better spend it for the week to come. Chances are you’re wanting to achieve more things than your time allows, which is why splitting things into ten percent increments and multiples thereof is so valuable – it gives us a visual representation of something that is transient in nature. As you might have guessed, I’m going to ask you to place your pie charts in a conspicuous place over the course of this next week. And yes, in a week I’m going to ask you to draw another two graphs on that same piece of paper so you can track your progress.
Work smart! There are things that I do far better in the first part of the day, that take nearly twice as long once I start to get tired. I’ll warn you in advance that the times that we are capable of getting the most done tend to be the times where we are the most creative. As a creative, I tend to want to do the things I feel like doing ahead of the things that I need to do. Knowing that I’m wired that way means that I have to negotiate with myself in order to not let the balls drop and disappoint those around me in the process. Practically speaking this means that some of the time I do what has to be done – before what I feel like doing. Again, the pie graph is your friend and can help you make the marginal shifts in the right direction in a way that feels good and not like you’re on a carb-free time diet!
CLASSIC TIME LEAKS
Whether you lead or serve on a worship or tech team, to a certain extent the above describes pretty much everyone I’ve worked alongside – we all tend to get sucked into what feels good, and if we find a balance, that can work. That said, there are some time leaks that just plain need to be addressed head on.
Assets, assets, assets! Leaders, if you use PCO, please upload and transpose the charts and audio files into the right key. Gabe Bondoc (check him out on YouTube) is the creative arts director at my church. He’s got a wife, two young children, tours mid-week, and still makes time to sit down with a click track and record the songs in the right key. And guess what, when we do that song again, his work is already done. This is key to a great rehearsal!
Gabe has also started a weekly Spotify playlist that gets shared via our weekly church-wide email. This is great for the congregation, worship and tech teams so that everyone knows the material.
Rehearsal is for rehearsing! Between the Spotify playlist and looping songs in PCO, even on weeks when I’m slammed with work, I can listen to the songs while I’m working. This means that once I pick up my guitar the songs and forms are already familiar to my ears, enabling me to make better use of my practice time before rehearsal. People, please do all you can to show up for rehearsal prepared, even if the rest of your team is not! Practice is what you do at home, rehearsal is about rehearsing the songs for Sunday morning.
There is a sweet spot that lies somewhere between no sound check and infinite sound check and finding it is a great way to strengthen the teamwork between the worship and tech peeps!
Sound check! Guitar Center used to be famous for leaving people on hold. The problem was so pervasive that the term ‘infinite hold’ became part of their vocabulary. There is a sweet spot that lies somewhere between no sound check and infinite sound check and finding it is a great way to strengthen the teamwork between the worship and tech peeps!
Sunday run-though! I’ve never seen more valuable time wasted than the precious moments I’ve seen leak away pre-service. This is game day folks. You don’t see football teams meander on the field before they play. The come out warmed up, ready to rock, and we should do the same.
I’d strongly suggest that the key worship and tech team leaders at your church get together and come up with a timeline for Sunday morning so that everything that needs to get done gets done in a timely fashion. Much of the time the worship and tech people are working two separate, yet important agendas that collide because of poor planning. We can do better folks!
RECAP AND RECALIBRATE
Did you know that you can get a ticket for driving too far below the speed limit? Leaders, while you can’t get a ticket for it, poor use of the volunteers’ time is as obvious to them as someone driving below the speed limit is to us. We can, and need to do better.
While the pie chart is a great way to track your progress, we all have blind spots, which is why getting feedback from our peers is so important. While asking volunteers for their feedback around time management can be a huge help, you can inappropriately embolden some of the more vocal people, which can cause other problems. If that latter is the case at your church, I’d suggest pulling a few of your most dedicated volunteers aside and gathering their feedback. The same is true if you serve on a team. I encourage you to go to your leader for feedback on how you can do a better job. This is a two-way street!
So, with some feedback in place, take a look at your pie chart and decide what changes you need to make to better serve your team and congregation. They’ll be glad you did, and in the long run, so will you!