Foundational principles of church technical service

This article is taken from my book, “Basic Training for the Church Audio Technician”

As a church tech, what is your real job?

That question can spark endless debates. Usually, when I ask that, I get a list of responsibilities. Various tasks and assignments that are all part of the job. Rarely do I hear the response that I want.

Your job, as a church tech, is to effectively take whatever vision the pastor or worship leader has and make it happen. Ours is a ministry of translation and interpretation. We bring things to life. Me make things happen. We deliver whatever passion is handed to us, and deliver it into our congregations. All that is done by providing excellent service. It happens when we have stopped making excuses and searched for solutions.

We all have problems from day to day. Excellent service does everything possible to make sure the same problems don’t happen twice. We fix things. We mix according to the needs of our church. It is a ministry. It is important. We do matter. If your church is traditional, you accommodate the pastor and church by keeping the levels low and carefully controlled. If your church is more contemporary, you have to keep the mix balanced and full. Either way, we are still translating the service according to the vision of our leadership.

All of that is significantly more important than just mixing.

As for that, there’s a reason we call it mixing. Think of it like cooking. Too much salt is just too much salt. Bland is not good. Cooking only the way you like doesn’t always satisfy everyone else. Prepare something they crave. Make it delicious. Make them enjoy it. Choose the ingredients carefully. Know what needs to be out in front of your mix. Know what needs to be the dominant flavor. Know when to cut something down or maybe even removed entirely.

I cover this more in the chapter on mixing front of house.

As the church tech, these are your primary responsibilities. Normally.

Provide technical services.
That essentially means the operation of equipment as needed. Turning the system on and operating it for services and events. Setup and breakdown of microphones and other equipment. Basically, the obvious stuff.

Manage the equipment.
This includes repairs and organization. There is another lesson specifically about repairs, in the book. Organization is critical. Knowing what gear you have. Storing it properly. Maintaining it. Keeping it presentable and functional. Maintaining inventory of stock items. Taking responsibility for the whole system and processes. One of the best habit you can develop is simply reading. Each piece of gear has a manual available. Those manuals explain the most effective ways to use them. There is an amazing amount of education inside each one. Unfortunately, most manual end up in a drawer or the trash, without ever being read.

Keep your workspace under control.
The only reason for anyone to be in a mixing position is of they are mixing. There’s a certain amount of crowd control involved. You can’t stay focused on the service with several people around you who aren’t. Keep distraction away. Keep your workspace neat and organized. Don’t allow trash or unnecessary items to crowd your space. I teach techs that, once service starts, you don’t get to blink. You have to constantly watch for changes or problems. Extraneous distractions will make that almost impossible.

Communicate with the pastor and worship leader.
You don’t get to be Quasimodo and live exclusively in the shadows. Get a program or song list. Stay ahead of the game. Know as much about the service as possible before it starts. Find out what their plans are and do your best to accommodate them. Hiding in the booth or drinking coffee in the lobby, without that communication, is a recipe for disaster. Don’t get comfortable until everything is prepared and checked. Don’t make them track you down. The best techs inspire confidence in their leadership.They prove themselves dependable. Many techs, once they have a few years under their belt, develop a certain degree of arrogance. They become unteachable. Leadership needs them in place, they need their service, but they create more problems. They make the worship service into something purely technical. They suck the life out of the ministry. Please don’t be that guy.

Protect your attitude.
Complaining. Gossiping. Talking trash about anyone. Criticizing the decisions of leadership to anyone but them. Whining. Negativity. All of that begins to convert your attitude and the perception of who you are. Those tendencies seem to dominate too many techs. Don’t fall into that trap. There are right and wrongs ways to deal with confrontations and problems. Only take problems to solutions. People who develop habits of complaining and speaking negative junk lose their value quickly. It brings the crew down and makes you focus on the negative stuff. It taints you and creates even more pressure. Don’t do it. I don’t expect you to just put on a happy face and ignore reality. But, the entire universe was created by the words God used to speak it into existence. The words we choose quickly affect the world we live in. Choose your words carefully. Decide to stay positive and maintain your attitude.

Attitude will always be the most important tool in your arsenal. Never forget that.

In another chapter, I get into the specifics of communicating with your pastor, worship team and musicians. That chapter alone might be worth the cost of the book. To get your copy, click this link.
“Basic Training for the Church Audio Technician.”

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