One of the great privileges of my career was providing the tech for Maranatha! Music’s Worship Leaders Workshops. More than twenty years ago, churches did not have impressive line arrays, large-format digital consoles, laser video projectors, or LED DMX lighting. Even mega-churches of the day had only basic sound systems and stage wash lighting. We were tasked with presenting modern worship services in traditional environments, without any budget, and without disrupting the venue or the people. Pulling it off required a lot of deft effort and creative solutions. But the greatest lesson I learned was how to be a valued member of the worship team by solving issues for them. Here are some techniques I used that are still valuable tips for today.
- Find a way to say yes. Techs tend to be the people of “No.” We should work to change that perception. When the Creatives come up with the latest, “wouldn’t it be cool if…” idea, instead of immediately saying no, listen to the concept and see if there is a way to modify it to work with the limitations in place. For instance, say “we can’t fly an angel across the sanctuary, but we could raise her with the straight one-man lift the church owns and drape it in white to cover the mechanicals.”
- Look for something to make it work. I remember one church in 1995 had no subs and no way to get signal from the booth to the stage for subs I borrowed from a local music store. So, I used the pastor’s wireless bodypack system in reverse to get the Aux-fed sub to stage. Since the wireless reduced the low-end response, I inserted a Kosmos sub-aural device at the output of the wireless receiver to recreate the sub information. All that mattered is it worked!
- Focus on what matters to them. Pastors have a different perspective than techs. Listen to their concerns and act accordingly. Right now, pastors are either not concerned about the impending loss of 600MHz bandwidth for wireless systems, or they feel the transition is too expensive. They do not understand this is federal law we are dealing with and there is no grace period. Our natural response is to inundate them with data and details, but the right response is to listen fully and then respond with understanding, followed by reasonable ways to replace the most important mics first and reallocate some wireless to wired until funds can be secured for the rest of the campus.
- Keep your eye on the prize. It is not about us, our gear, or even about the pastors, staff, and team. The question we need to ask ourselves after each service should be, “Did people witness authentic worship and did they meet Christ?” Everything else is fluff.
- Always assume the best about others. In the heat of the moment, pastors will say terrible, hurtful things to us and then go on their way, greeting people like nothing happened. Techs harbor that one-time pain and turn it into passive-aggressive behavior for the next decade. Root it out and get rid of it. It is harming only us. I have seen pastors deliver astoundingly insensitive tirades, and when confronted with the reality are truly unaware of the damage. Leadership has its own challenges, so let it slide. Arm yourself with a thick skin and a soft heart.
With all the technology at our disposal today, it is easy to get caught up in the gear. Work to reduce your attention on the controls and direct your eyes to the stage. Remember, the important stuff is happening up there, not down here.