Limit The Fires Your Volunteers Are Asked To Fight Each Weekend


There will always be times when something goes wrong during a weekend service.

You might be so focused on your own ministry that you don’t remember everyone is dealing at some point with a dead battery, a piece of malfunctioning equipment, a last-minute change that threw off the sound and video crew, or a feedback gremlin in the soundboard. Stuff like this happens, and we do our best to limit it and make it great.

In fact, sometimes overcoming a technical issue on Sunday morning can motivate your volunteer team and allow them to feel needed, included, accomplished, and successful. We still retell stories of amazing ways that the tech team pulled off a huge production, a special moment, or, just through God’s grace, a Sunday service when the electricity in the building went out.

I think the technical term is “putting out fires.” Tech team members understand this and deal with it on a regular basis.

But it’s draining when your team is putting out fires every week.

When the team constantly hears from others about last-minute needs, when a piece of equipment is messed up, and we can’t afford to change it, or when we lack team members to serve, we wind up stressing out before and during every single worship service.

The tech team members might be living in this world, but it’s not good. We must limit the number of fires we ask them to deal with.

What are some ways to limit them? Here are eight ideas.

1. Get The Right Stuff

Make it a goal to build the best tech system possible. Have a place for cables to be stored. Invite an expert to come check out your setup. Pay someone to train your team on the equipment. Purchase a new mic or two, a stand if that’s an issue, or do a major overhaul if the system is super old.

2. Fix What Is Broken

Give your team—volunteer or paid—the authority to fix the little things. Is there a broken switch? Do you need a new power strip? Is there a mic input that has a short in it? Your team can fix what they can and turn in the receipt for needed parts. If it’s over everyone’s head, invite an expert back to take a look.

3. Plan Ahead – Preventative Maintenance

Stuff will wear out. One way to keep things fresh and nice is to plan to sell off old stuff every seven to ten years and make annual staggered purchases so you’re not trying to purchase a whole thing at once.

4. Provide Special Perks

You may not be able to do a sound overhaul of the church budget now, but you can probably do something. Purchasing a new camera, building a new sound table, or even getting some new rolling chairs at the computer desk or sound console can increase the feeling of importance and thanks to the sound team.

5. Celebrate The Great Sundays

Taking a moment to notice the Sundays that go smoothly without a hitch will keep people seeking to do their best to create more of those!

6. Control What You Can Control

You can’t do much about a power surge, internet issues, or some screen going out just before worship. But you can easily control many other things to focus on the unknown. The best-case scenario is that there wouldn’t be any tech that needs surprises – it should all be planned out ahead of time. There shouldn’t be a need to add stuff to projection presentations on Sunday morning – that should all be done. (More thoughts about this on Podcast Episode #116) There shouldn’t be surprises. Not that a volunteer team member has to be there every Saturday night setting up, but just knowing that two mics are needed for a particular segment will help make it mentally easier, even if the setup is done on Sunday morning.

(Listen to Podcast Episode #116)

7. Create Systems

Another way to eliminate the fires (and to control what you can control) is to have systems in place. How loud do we run the soundboard? Is there a marker there for someone to see? How do we get the right info to the tech team during the week? What is the system? What time does the worship team rehearse? Who is the setup person? How do you schedule your tech team volunteers? What is the backup plan if someone can’t make it?

8. Thank Your Team

Never forget how important the tech team is to lead corporate worship on Sundays effectively! Encourage them, buy them lunch now and then, seek their input, and give them what they need.

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