When I was first appointed as a director at a church, my first thought was to fix all the audio, video and lighting problems and make everything amazing. Watch out, church! I am going to revolutionize our technology! Here comes technical excellence!
Then a kid, who was probably 13 years old, tapped me on the side and pronounced, "You must be important! What do you do?" I told him I "mixed the audio for everyone who hears it and managed all the audio, video and lighting teams." He responded, "When I grow up, I want to be like you."
In that moment, I realized my role was not simply to "mix" or "fix" the audio, video and lighting but to be a leader, to be an example. If my goal was technical excellence, then being an amazing tech was not going to achieve it. Instead, I realized I should focus on leading a team. Sure, my job was managing the technical needs of the church, but my real priority was the lives of those who worked with me and how they could further grow in their walk with Christ. Like a coach, I was there to challenge them, push them to the next level and encourage them when they fell.
Everyone and everything was created to worship God. "'All the earth will worship You and will sing to You; they will sing to Your name" (Ps. 66:4). The psalmist says "all" the earth. Audio consoles and gear are meant to worship God. They are instruments of worship like guitars or keyboards.
In the same way, it should be our goal to steadily steer people to focus their lives toward worshipping God. What you do in your personal life counts. How you act and interact with others matters. Those interactions change how you operate the tech gear. They also affect how others operate tech gear. If you are an audio tech who is mixing front of house and someone else is mixing monitors, how you treat your monitor engineer will affect the overall sound. It just will. If a worship leader is conducting his personal life in a sinful manner, this changes how he leads worship. I would argue that everyone on the technical teams is a worship leader. How we conduct our lives outside of church will affect how we operate our technical instruments of worship.
How do you, as a staff member or volunteer who leads a technical team, hold your team members accountable in their personal and work lives? I highly recommend having one-on-one, face-to-face meetings with each member on a weekly basis. Ask tough questions. Be prepared for tough answers. Make sure your team leaders are doing the same with their team members. Knowing what's going on in the lives of your team will make you a better leader.
Gear, organizational charts, audio mixing talent, video competency, lighting ability and technical knowledge all play into the role of the tech team leader. We shouldn't ignore these things or think they don't matter. We should work hard in these areas. Bringing everyone up a notch technically is important in overseeing the tech area, but building leaders and the team is more important.
If you are the only person on the team, how you perform technically for the service will not matter if you can't cover all the bases. You need a team around you.
"Come to Me [Jesus], all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:28-30).
Note that in this passage, Jesus says to "learn from Me." People are attracted to passionate leaders who want to build a team of technicians who love Jesus, learn from Jesus, progress biblically and in their craft, and want the best for the church. Doing these things creates strong relationships with your tech team, the worship team and the lead pastor. These relationships are the foundational building blocks you need to help achieve your goal of technical excellence.
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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