Dread, anxiety, depression, these are not symptoms of some new medical condition, they’re what happens when a massive division exists between the technical team and the worship team. If you’re in this situation, I hope the following can help. If you’re not, hopefully some of this will help you avoid being in such a situation.
[See links at bottom to listen to Chris and Brian discuss aspects of this topic on the podcast]
Let’s start with a simple question:
How many teams are directly involved with the church service?
If you answered 2 or 3+, you’re wrong. There’s one team, one group of people responsible for the worship service. The people in the group are:
- The Pastor/Preacher/Bishop/Father*/etc.
- The Technical Team
- The Worship Leader and the Band (Or Choir leader and choir, whatever fits your church)
(*Maybe I’ve been watching too many dramas on the BBC. Seriously, how many murders can happen in the little town of Candleford?)
Everyone on this team has the same purpose, to glorify God and present a service that draws people closer to Him. We do our work in different ways but our purpose is the same. When we recognize this, we tend to work as a team and think as a team. When our egos get out of check or we refuse to deal with problems (our own or others), then we become separate teams. It becomes the us and them.
I’ve attended churches with different reporting hierarchies; some had the tech director reporting to the worship pastor while others had them on an equal level and reporting to the pastor. I don’t believe one is better than the other as long as the overall team mentality and purpose is kept in check.
In case you’re in a situation where there seems some underlying tension between the pastor and the tech team or the band and the tech team, it’s time for leaders from each group to huddle up and work through the problem. If you’re well past that, living in a state of Us versus Them, it’s time to look at how you got there.
Reasons For The Tension
Reasons might be obvious and but if they aren’t, let’s consider a few possible reasons from both sides.
From the point of view of the musicians:
- You rush us during soundcheck
- You talk about us behind our back
- You aren’t skilled enough to be running audio
- You behave as if you’re superior
- You’re always late
- You never fix broken equipment
From the point of view of the tech team:
- The band is always late to practice
- A musician insulted a tech volunteer
- The musicians never stop playing during the sound check when you need them to be quiet
- The worship leader tells us how to mix for the room
- You rely on us to fix your personal gear
- You dismiss the skills it takes to mix audio and believe we aren’t necessary.
And then there are those reasons that run much deeper. It might be something that was said about you (or you said about someone on the other team). Or maybe there was an epic failure and the person responsible never took ownership. Or maybe it has to do with church politics. In a moment, you’ll see how these reasons can be uncovered.
Ramifications Of The Divide
Don’t think the congregation believes everything is OK. They can sense the divide. And we are human so we do talk and word does spread. And while the attitude might be to suffer the work for the sake of the service, there are far more ramifications than feeling stressed and angered.
Consider these ramifications:
- Team members don’t want to be there (tech and band)
- The resentment shows
- The quality of the service falls
- People perform their jobs with less enthusiasm
- Mistakes are made
- The gossiping begins
- Tech volunteers quit
- Musicians quit
- People won’t volunteer because they don’t want to join that toxic environment
- MOST OF ALL… we fail to be the people God wants us to be.
The Process To Follow With Individual Problems
Let’s say the divide ultimately exists between you and the band or a person in the band who then sows discord. This can happen when your tech team has a total of one member – YOU or when you’re the leader of the team. I have advice but you might not like it.
Seek reconciliation with the person. Not before or after the service – do it later in the week.
Pray together at the start of the meeting. Talk about your mutual purpose in what you do for the church service. If that person has a problem with you, ask about the expectations they have on you, reasons for distrust, etc. and from there start the discussion.
If the band has a problem with you then recognize it and work on a solution. Maybe you’ve become militant over how the soundcheck process is run because the band members are late or never have their equipment set up on time, or refuse to be quiet during the soundcheck process. This is when you explain how their behavior reduces your ability to do your best and make them sound the best.
Maybe you’re doing something you shouldn’t do, such as negatively commenting on the quality of musicians to a friend right before the service. That sort of thing needs to stop.
If it’s a situation where you or they refuse to change, such as a worship leader who insists on tell you how to mix the house despite your ability to do so, then meet separately with church leadership about the problem.
The Process To Follow With Team Problems
When it comes to dealing with a team of people, it’s best to bring in a third party person who can be impartial. They can lead the process and keep things civil. This could be someone within the church, within the church denomination, or someone from a neighboring church who has some experience in this type of work.
Get everyone together during a meal time. Food helps calm people. Have the third party ask questions to people, such as “where do you work, do you have children,” that sort of thing so people see each other as real humans.
Next, talk about who you are doing this for. The answer is God and starting the discussion that way will help put everything into perspective.
After the meal, pair up techs with musicians for a short prayer time in which they each pray for the other. At this point, everyone’s hearts should be in the right place as their defenses drop.
Now go around the room and allow each person (NO INTERRUPTING OR RAISING VOICES) to express their frustration with the other team or whatever it is they believe plays into the rift.
This is where the third party should listen to everyone and write down the topics on a whiteboard or other means of display. From here, it’s a matter of the people addressing each concern – but only after all are written down. The attitude should not be to defend accusations brought against you or the team but to understand why they were brought up and how to rectify the situation.
Where To From Here
What happens next is up to you. If everything seems wonderful between your tech team and the band then take this as an opportunity to look for any areas where cracks are forming, any place where you might have a problem starting – then go work on a resolution.
If you’re at a church and well entrenched in “Us versus Them” then it’s time for you to step up and do something about it. It’s not going away on its own. Maybe you need to own up to your mistakes. Maybe you need to call in a third party for a meeting.
Every moment the divide continues is another moment when people on both sides fail to be who God wants them to be.
P.S. Brian and I talk about the Us Versus Them problem on the podcast – listen below.