The Purpose of Church Tech Production | Why We Work in the Shadows

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Lincoln Brewster had just finished his talk at the 2013 Gurus of Tech conference and Todd Elliot took the stage.  Todd briefly talked about working in the tech ministry and then said, “[My] family needs a vision of what I do in tech ministry.”  At that moment, I realized my own family didn’t fully grasp why I worked in tech ministry.  And that’s when I realized I’ve never explained it.  Until now, I’m not sure if I ever had the words to do so.

As you consider your purpose in tech production, consider your pictured fellow brothers and sisters who share your passion.

Rewind to Monday (Team Purpose)

This week, you read the updates from the conference.  Hopefully you gained a bit of wisdom from the people I mentioned.  I know I learned a lot from Todd, Lincoln, Steve, Alberty, and Curtis.  I didn’t even get to the session on “Working with Creatives” with Andrew and Whit.  But don’t be surprised if I mention them in this post.  Next year, go to Gurus!

Monday, I mentioned Todd Elliott said the purpose of a tech team is “to create life-changing moments through the fusion of technical and creative arts.”  In my guide, Audio Essentials for Church Sound, I give a purpose for audio production but the purpose I describe is much more functional in nature as to how you should see the inner-workings of the job.  It’s a three-pronged approached.  However, Todd’s definition nailed the simplicity of the team’s purpose from a spiritual aspect.

You do create life-changing moments by fusing the work of the pastor, worship leader, musicians, stage designer, lighting designer, videographer, etc….everyone who works either in a creative means or in a technical manner.  Everyone wants their work to be a blessing to the congregation.  It’s in those times that people give their lives to Christ, people’s hearts are broken, people’s hearts are healed, people engage in worship like never before.  Life-changing moments.  But this isn’t your only purpose.

gurus of tech breakout session

Tuesday (End Game)

Tuesday, you read from Lincoln Brewster and all the HEART work that goes into having a thriving ministry life.  I’m creating a short list and printing it out – it’s stuff we all need to remember.  During that talk, Lincoln said of working in the worship and tech ministry, “Remember your end game; people will come to know Christ.”

People will come to know Christ…for the first time, in a new way, like never before.  Those last two are my thoughts.  Lincoln didn’t expand on who or how but I think it’s safe to say that coming to know Christ in any way is one of the most wonderful blessing in which you can be a part, whether the person is not a believer or a believer experiencing Christ in a new way.  But is it the ONLY reason you should work in the tech ministry?

Wednesday (Support)

Wednesday, Steve Carter gave us every reason he’d never work in tech production, including; not being recognized, having to show up early, and never being able to meet EVERYONE’s expectations.  But he also explained the importance of being bonded together not only as a team, but with Christ, through the breaking of bread and through communion.

“…The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’
-1 Corinthians 11:23-25

How does communion fit into the purpose of tech ministry?  I believe part of the purpose of working in a tech ministry is ministering to each other and supporting each other.  Techie’s are a unique breed of human.  Primarily introverts, but not exclusively.  Detail-oriented, analytical, but not exclusively.  Oh, maybe I can’t give an exact description of us but it comes down to this; we are unique and we experience and do things in tech ministry that other people don’t understand.  We are first in, last out, and who do we have to turn to?  Each other.  Part of my purpose of working in tech ministry is supporting other tech’s, be that as a leader or a team-member.

robert scovill talking with audio techs

Thursday (Giving and Ministering)

Can you believe it’s Thursday already?  Ok, it’s Friday but anyway…

For Alberty Reyes, working in the tech ministry is about ministering to other churches.  It’s about training their volunteers and enabling them to make the right decisions when purchasing equipment.  For him, it’s even about giving gear to churches in need.  For Alberty, ministry is about Giving.

Every time you are working in tech production, you are giving of your time, your energy and your talents.  Some days, it feels like more of a sacrifice than others.  But that’s just part of giving and ministering…it’s not about you, it’s about them, and Him.

Now we come to Curtis Templeton.  While his talk was aimed at technical directors and leaders, I think it’s still worthy of consideration when it comes to defining the reason I (or you) work in tech ministry.  TD’s and other ministry leads are called to be shepherds of their flock, their team, and when they don’t tend to their flock, Ezekiel 34:2-5 shows us what can happen;

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.’”

You can be a shepherd or you can be a sheep.  You can be a TD or you can be someone on the team.  Regardless of which you are, you must remember you and your team exist together as a flock.  The sheep flock together.  They follow the shepherd.  And the shepherd cares for them.  In tech ministry, consider part of your purpose as either tending to your sheep or being a valuable part of the flock.

live video room willow creek church

Your Impact

I mentioned a session with Andrew Stone and Whitney George.  They talked about working with creatives.  Without rehashing their full session, consider these quotes and how they play into determining your purpose for working in tech ministry (sorry, I don’t remember which one said which statement):

  • Regarding your actions; “is this serving the people?”
  • Regarding your production; “is this furthering the message?”
  • “You are a technical artist, not a technical doer.”

On that last point, they described the impact of your production work.  You are never on the stage but your work has a huge impact on the service.  They even used the example of the movie producers, the Cohen brothers.  They are never in front of the screen but they have a tremendous impact on the movie.

As you consider your purpose of working in tech ministry, consider the huge impact of your actions both in how you support the creatives, serving them, and in how your work affects the feel of the service.

todd elliott interviews whiteney george and andrew stone

The Purpose

There is a song by Bryan and Katie Torwalt called “Holy Spirit.”  The chorus starts;

“Holy Spirit you are welcome here.
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.
Your glory, God,
is what our hearts long for
to be overcome by your presence, Lord.”

Ever since I heard this song performed at the Gurus of Tech conference this year, I’ve felt like the song, especially the chorus, captured a lot of my purpose in church tech production.  In fact, I used the first two lines to describe to my wife how I viewed much of my production work, my goal in tech production.  And for the first time, she truly understood why I love working in tech ministry.

Throughout this week, I’ve been mulling over why I work in tech production.  What is my purpose in tech production?  Todd, Lincoln, Curtis, all of the people I’ve mentioned above have contributed a lot to my thoughts.  I’ve been trying to frame it all in one sentence. But I find there is one part of all of this I have to do first; I have to believe it.

Believing in Your Purpose

It’s one thing to say “my purpose in tech is to…” but it’s another thing to believe it.  And it’s from that point that I’m going to try explaining my purpose (and maybe your purpose) in tech production.

My purpose is made evident when;

  • the congregation is fully engaged in worship
  • the worship team fully trusts the tech team and their efforts
  • the pastor focuses on the service
  • my work is a blessing to others
  • my teammates are glad to see me
  • the Holy Spirit is welcomed in, not by my work, but by the results of my work (God working through me).
  • people come / move closer to Christ
  • people come to know Christ
  • a room full of people have their eyes and hearts and mind turned towards Him.

Before I explain my purpose, I want to cover one last piece of information.  It’s a list you should consider writing.  It builds to the purpose but can explain to your friends and family the details behind it…

Why I am in Tech Production (the Tech Ministry)

  • Because, for some people, their time in worship is the only time they feel God’s love.
  • Because God uses me to help Him usher in the Holy Spirit, to open the door.
  • Because God has blessed me with these talents and when I use them, I feel the most alive.
  • Because God has chosen me to take on a role like no other.
  • Because my work enables God to soften hearts, to break hearts open, and to heal hearts.
  • Because we are called to praise God and my work enables people to do that to their fullest.
  • Because it matters.

My Purpose (Your Purpose?)

I’ll be honest, even as I’ve been writing this, my view of my purpose in tech production has changed.  But it’s changed in a good way.  It reminds me of something a wise person once told me; it’s not about reaching your destination, it’s about what happens along the journey.  For me, my purpose in tech ministry and the purpose of the tech ministry itself comes down to one sentence.

My purpose in tech ministry is to allow God to work through me so He may bless and minister to those whom I work alongside and whom I serve. 

Everything I do should be done with that purpose in mind.

Numbers 6:24-26 is a blessing which the Lord tells Moses to pass on to Aaron, which Aaron is to use as a blessing upon the children of Israel;

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”

My desire is that those whom I serve will feel such a blessing.

Questions: What you think?  Did I miss something?  Do you disagree?  Do you think I got it right? What would you consider your purpose?

Scripture image by Bill Alexander. All other photos by Roger Blalock from the 2013 Gurus of tech conference.

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Comments

  1. Owen Chambers says

    Hi Chris, I have just read this post as as one who has been serving in this area for the last 28 plus years I generally read a lot but never comment, however I would just like to thanks for the great info that you publish. it is a real blessing and an encouragement to read your comments and to hear your heart. as a task oriented type of person your reflective comments ring true and your comments have helped me to articulate what I believe and feel about my service. once again thanks blessings Owen

  2. John Lowe says

    I find your posts very helpful to me. I was asked to volunteer a couple of years ago in the sound dept in my church by the head tech who has been running sound for 13yrs. I am as green as they come in this area with nothing more than a passion for Worship music and a will to serve. I am learning so much at my church and through the posts i have read and all the tech talk is starting to make some sense to me now..

  3. Paul Humphreys says

    Thank you. That was a real encouragement, it also applies to the people you never see who clean the church, make the tea, do the maintenance and are never really noticed until they aren’t there.

    • says

      Paul, that’s a great point. I’ve adopted the behavior of thanking those people on occasion. No big event, just a simple, “thank you for serving / thanks for [whatever they do].”

  4. jimji jay babiera says

    thank you so much. i feel alone in physical, cause i dont have any tech friends here, but the holy spirit teach me n appoint me in tech ministry. and now the congregation, music team, n our pastor loves the result of my obedient.
    im a low profile but big profile in Gods eye. lol.

  5. Jason says

    Read this while waiting on my wife to meet me for dinner after work. Hit home! Sending this out to my tech volunteers and planning on getting feedback from them and building on this article!
    Thank you !

  6. says

    Awesome article and thoughts about my vision for tech ministry, and my families vision for my ministry. This is going to help me, and others, refocus our purpose. Thank you

      • says

        We recently had a sound tech meeting where I asked this very question. “What is your purpose as a sound tech?” A few answers centered around production, some around the technical aspects of sound, and some around “making the band sound good”.

        It really opened my eyes to two things:
        1. That our sound team currently lacks a consistent vision.
        2. None of the on-the-spot answers given were centered around Christ.

        Uh oh. I have some work to do!!

        Of course, I let them in on the secret that any question asked in church can usually be answered with “Jesus”. ;-) This article is so timely and really sums up my feelings around audio ministry as well. Thanks for that, Chris. I’m definitely going to use this specific article as a reference moving forward.

        • says

          Jon, it’s really easy for personality types who work in production to equate purpose with some quantifiable goal. And I was like that myself, for a long time. It’s great that you asked that question of your audio team. I love your “secret.” :)

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