Church tech teams may have plenty of technical know-how but lack other important elements. While consulting for one particular church, I could see that the tech team had a ton of talent, but I couldn't put my finger on what was missing.
Often team members ask themselves, "What can I add or change to improve what I contribute to the team?" when the real question might be "What's missing on our team?"
This team was rich with learned technicians, so I didn't expect the number of mistakes they were making. Finally, it hit me. Although the team members had talent and training, they lacked three other components—relational, operational and leadership—all which are critical to teams.
Relational. The most important person on your team is the relational contact. I put high value on a volunteer coordinator, someone who pays attention to the needs and hurts of team members. This person knows when someone misses an assigned time to serve or experiences a death in the family. The coordinator is responsive to hurt feelings. He tracks birthdays. He organizes fun outings and is the pat-on-the-back every team needs. In meetings, he looks through the lens of the ministry. In fact, this relational team member doesn't even need to be a tech; he can help translate ministry-speak to technical-speak.
Operational. Team members who possess an operational component don't operate gear. Rather, they understand logistics. They may not be good at conducting technical operations, but they can keep teams moving and help them understand what tasks need to be completed to progress from point A to point B. They understand that technical operation is like a train. When it gets on track and moves, you'd better be ready for it, or you will derail the entire mission.
People gifted in operations typically thrive in scheduling, back-end software that helps with call times, websites, autoreminders and all the unseen operational components that must be handled in today's church environment. Operational team members are equipped for these tasks and can help ensure that when the train gets to the station—or when the pastor is ready to take the platform—tech team members are in place and ready to function.
Leadership. The leadership component is the most important skill set of the church tech team. Someone must step up and lead. In fact, in all of the areas a team is working in, the team needs someone who has this skill. Leaders listen to ideas, boldly tackle issues and react in a productive way to mistakes. They are flexible and able to solve problems. They can identify talent and translate the relational, operational and technical feedback into a directive that moves the team toward what will ultimately accomplish the church's mission and vision.
Inside each of these components, you can have team members with varying skill sets. You can have a relational person inside your operational team or a technical person who leads. But it's important that the team member's skill set places him in the area where he will have the most influence.
Though larger teams may have subsets of this team dynamic, the goal is to keep people performing at a high level with the skill set with which the Lord has blessed them. So a technical person with leadership giftings should lead, not necessarily perform only a technical role. In the same way, a technical person put in a leadership position may be more suited for a technical role instead of leadership. Now I understand that in a lot of circumstances, churches must rely on a small team to facilitate production. But it is still key to understand the skill sets of those team members and place them accordingly. Though they may play several roles, they need to know their defining role and use that skill to accomplish the tasks set before them.
1 Corinthians 12:20-21 says, "there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.'" That would be crazy! The body would break down and fail.
The same goes for your team. Avoid this problem by understanding the components of a team and how members relate to those components. Doing this will build an effective technical team.
David Leuschner is the executive director of Digital Great Commission Ministries (audiovideolighting.com), a nonprofit organization that utilizes technology to reach the world for Christ. From 2006 to 2017, Leuschner served as senior director of technology and technical arts at Gateway Church. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram (both @davidleuschner).
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