Have you noticed that the currency in our day is not money, but time? When you ask someone how they are, the answer is usually a huge intake of air followed by an exhalation with the word “busy” punctuating it. People are busy.
Most of our churches run on the sweat of volunteers. It’s an amazing thing, really. People give their time and energy to help a vision unfold. And often, it’s their serving that adds layers of busy-ness to their lives. Most of the time, when a volunteer gives up their time and energy to serve the church, they are giving up their margins—the time reserved for recreation, family, and themselves.
This may be obvious to most, or a gentle reminder for others, but just as we would carefully guard a gift of finances, our role as pastors and leaders is to guard the gift of time as well. In fact, the first charge given to us in the Garden was to “cultivate and guard” it (Gen 2:15). There are a number of practical ways that we can cultivate and guard our worship and tech team volunteers so that they feel valued.
1. See Through Their Eyes
One of the most important things we can do is determine how comfortable each of our volunteers is with technology. When we add a new technology, like personal monitoring, wireless in-ears, or even Planning Center Online, we have to think about how that gets perceived by volunteers. Our team members will have a wide swath of tech experience ranging from the one who used to be a studio engineer to the one who calls for help to turn on a PC. Be prepared to see through their eyes. Some folks will embrace new technology others will be frustrated by having to learn or do something new.
2. Be Available
So often, we see technology as a way to make our lives simpler when it could very well be making things more difficult for someone else. Make sure your volunteers know that you are there to help. Enlist others on the team to be point people to help out as well.
3. Teach Simple and in Small Chunks
Give your team only what they need to know to do the job well. With a personal monitor system, you could go into how to add compression to tighten an instrument. But is that a critical piece? No. Start with the basics, so folks don’t get overwhelmed. Make transitions to new technologies easy and give people the time they need to become familiar with it.
4. Give Your Team Tools to Respond to Challenges
Your volunteers will gain confidence if they know how to get unstuck. If wireless in-ears cut out during a service, how can they “fix” it? They can check the cable on their wireless pack, check the mute, they can do a quick power recycle, etc. Especially the mute. Mute buttons are notoriously confusingly labeled. Help them know how to resolve common challenges so when they occur in front of hundred of people, they don’t get frustrated and panic.
5. Value Their Time
By spending a bit of time getting the stage ready for the team, you are showing volunteers how much you honor and value their time. Be prepared to jump right into rehearsal when everyone arrives. Come in a bit early to make sure that personal monitor systems are labeled. Have a basic mix started so sound checks are quick. When a volunteer knows that you honor their time, they will have a lot more grace for you.
As believers, we know that our beliefs are demonstrated by our actions. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the needs of the service and to treat volunteers as “human resources.” They get enough of that in their jobs. Our role as worship and tech leaders is to cultivate and guard the precious people that have given a part of their lives to join the mission of the church.
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A California expat currently residing in Charleston, SC, Andy has a keen desire to help people flourish in their areas of giftedness and passion. With a resume that includes Nintendo, Bayer, Digital Audio Labs, Alclair Audio (and others still covered by NDA), Andy has a lifetime of useful (and perhaps double that of non-useful) experience to share.