Imagine walking into a new church and starting over. Exciting, scary, but most of all, fun. Thinking back on all I’ve been through, I’ve put together four things I would do differently if I walked into a new church to lead audio production.
Normally, at this point I’d tell some story that relates to starting over. Perhaps some other time. :)
What I’d Do Differently
1. Establish and share the vision for the team from the very beginning.
It’s really easy to put “vision” on the back burner and focus on topics like creating a highly skilled tech team and making sure the sound check goes smoothly. You have your own issues at your church that tend to take center stage. It might be making sure the monitor mixes are perfect week-after-week. But how does that motivate your team?
Don’t mistake goals for vision. A goal would be “consistent mixing across team members.” A vision is much different. The vision might be overcoming a large problem over a large amount of time, such as an existing massive rift between the audio team and the worship team, or taking the audio ministry to the next level, however that might apply to your situation.
2. Establish realistic track-able goals from the start.
Starting over is a great opportunity to look at what you have and where you’d like to be. For instance, if there are three techs and one of them isn’t very good at mixing vocals, then create a goal of “work with [sound tech’s name] over the next two months using one-on-one help so they can mix vocals in-line with the rest of the team.”
Consider goals as your checklist of things to do. You can also prioritize them in order of importance. My personal way of working on any goals is doing a brain dump of everything on a sheet of paper. Then, I’ll mark the stuff I can do in a short amount of time and do those ASAP to get them out of the way. That leaves me with a shorter list and then I can start my planning on how I’ll reach the other goals.
Remember the goals need to be realistic and track-able. Realistic is something that you know is attainable. Track-able means you assign a time-frame and/or an indication of completion such as “new dbx compressor is installed by July 2nd” or “quarterly team meetings held on 1st Saturday of March, June, September, and December.”
3. Define the real team
Hold a meeting with the musicians, worship leader(s), the full tech crew and say to everyone, “this is the worship team.” I’d explain the purpose of the audio team; how we support the goals of the pastor and the worship band, the needs of the congregation, and do so with the knowledge of professional audio production while keeping all of these aspects in the right balance. This purpose is covered in detail as the first chapter of Audio Essentials for Church Sound.
Looking back at the history of my church’s worship bands and audio teams, I should have done this early on instead of letting it happen naturally.
The result is a worship band that knows we are on their side and are all working towards the same goal. The result is more teamwork and more open communications.
4. Examine the past and plan for the future
I’d want to know about the church’s past experience concerning worship and audio production. This includes growth in the bands, major changes in team structure, and past problems.
I’d look at problems they’ve had in the past and how those can be avoided or resolved for the future. This could be problems between a certain audio tech and musician or problems such as “never enough equipment for the Christmas production.” These resolutions become new goals for the future.
I’d look at the history of each band member and tech team member so I know their talents, their history as it relates to worship, and their thoughts on the future for themselves and for the team.
I’d plan for the future. This would include forming a vision and establishing goals as previously discussed. It would also include discussions with the pastor and worship leader surrounding what goals they have for the future and determining where audio production fits into those goals. It would also include your personal vision of the future of the team. You are a leader and you bring a unique perspective. You might have a vision that could ignite everyone!
Working in the same church for a long time, it’s easy to reach a plateau for the team. The team growth slows, the excitement wanes, and the vision is lost. The next time you walk through your church doors, imagine it’s your first time. Take it as an opportunity for examining the past, thinking about the future, developing goals, and sculpting a vision.
Question: If you could start over, what would you do differently?