Many churches great and small always seem to have a people resource problem.
Your tech ministry might be the single thing that keeps those young recruits coming back to the church week after week!
There never seems to be enough people to do what needs to get done.
For most smaller churches, they have to rely on a volunteer base, but then risk burning out their most dedicated and trained volunteers.
While larger churches have the resources to hire staff to supplement their set of volunteers, they too yet run into the same problems, never enough staff and volunteers to get the things they need done.
But maybe that's the problem.
Everyone is busy doing things. There is only one level of leadership. That one level leadership also results in there being only one level of team development.
What if instead of just being busy doing the work, we were busy developing others to do the work? Create a multilevel developmental program to grow our teams, leaders, and capacity.
God didn't want us to bury out talents in the sand, he wanted us to use them, invest them, and reap the rewards of the blessings.
The more we invest, particularly in others, the more fruits of the rewards we will see.
But for those who wonder how they can let go of doing everything, and hand it off to others, they must create a multilevel roadmap to get there.
First and foremost, you must commit to becoming a development' culture.
If you have been largely a doing' culture, you must design a development program to begin integrating new staff or volunteers into a training process.
It's OK to dream here.
Among the things to ask yourself:
How many more people would it take to do a certain project or task?
How many people would it take to create a rotation team of volunteers to cover all tech positions in a weekend?
What type of technical positions do I need?
What skill level is required to meet a technical position?
Essentially, dream and draw out a roadmap from A to Z.
Also talk to leadership and get them on board with making a transition.
It's one thing to dream, but knowing the boundaries of your leaders' expectations is key here. Such expectations such as those pertaining to distractions, service perfection, grace, and overall execution of weekend services.
Lastly, will this take hiring (or perhaps contracting) someone specifically to lead the transition? Not everyone has the skill set to undertake this, but I believe most can develop this mindset with training, and build the skills to make the transition.
This might be the hardest part for any church to tackle.
Recruitment, in my opinion, is only limited by your own limitations. Some churches insist that only adults serve during the regular services and that students can only serve in student ministries, or how some insist that someone who serves has to have attended for a minimum amount of time or have been a church member.
OK, that limitation list can go on and on, you get the point.
If your church holds to any of those limitations or a lot of limitations, though, you've just greatly reduced your recruitment by 50 percent to 90 percent.
This is real folks, limitations only limit your ability to grow!
So where do you recruit from?
My answer is everywhere, from one-on-one conversations, to walking into a junior high class to speak to students, an invitation from the stage, to a slide on the screen.
Use every option available to you!
So who do I recruit?
I've found, based on maturity level of the individual, I've been able to not only recruit and train solid tech volunteers to serve in high capacity tech positions, but do so, beginning with sixth grade.
Even then, I've had a few exceptions of finding even younger quality recruits.
Once they hit junior high age, though, I find they are quick to pick up very technical tasks. Not only that, teens really want to belong and want to be believed in.
You are investing in your ministry's long-term future here. Your tech ministry might be the single thing that keeps those young recruits coming back to the church week after week!
Other areas where to find interested recruits are the local audio/music schools.
But these people don't even go to the church!
Instead of finding ways to limit your recruitment pool thinking that way, much like my rule with the kids, as long as their maturity and personality fit the environment, I see using local music/audio students as not only a way to invest in talent, but also as an outreach.
Does your church have an internship program, school, or discipleship program? If so, talk to your leaders about making the tech ministry either a part of the program or an elective. This does possibly mean these are short-term people coming into your ministry, but if it's a regular influx of new people that are helping your tech team, this gives you a great opportunity for some of your most trusted to take the reigns of leadership, and allow them to train a group of new volunteers.
The hand off
We finally have people!
Now, what do we do with them?
Honestly, this can be just as hard as the recruitment phase. There are churches that are very good at following up with individuals, while others are not.
I honestly view volunteers as VIP individuals that should have a large amount of time and investment poured into them and shouldn't be ignored.
I can see you thinking or saying, "Wait a minute here, it's up to them to follow up they volunteered to serve."
Well, that's part of your recruitment problem.
Let's be real here, people are really busy, and could be doing other things, but they chose to give your ministry a shot.
Don't drop the ball now, jump on it, give them your attention, and be intentional about the development process.
1. Use them: There is a saying, use it or lose it. You have a very limited time from when you first connect with these people and getting them into the game, if you want them to stick around. If you connect with these people and don't begin their integration within two weeks, it's likely they are going to go elsewhere.
The same is true if you begin to integrate them, but don't train, schedule, development these people. The assimilation process for your ministry is very important here.
2. Matching them to their skill/interest: Back when you were dreaming, you were intentionally drawing up positions to fill with potential new people. It's also important to talk with these new people about prior skills, interests, goals, etc. Some may have a good foundation of knowledge in a particular area. Some may not, but indicate that they are specifically interested in a key area. Help match people to their interests, if at all possible.
While the saying, you should serve where there is a need, is a valid saying, you have to take an honest look at the reality of someone sticking around very long by placing someone to serve on camera only, when they clearly have a background and/or an interest only in audio. If someone has expressed an interest in an area, have a plan to train them, mentor them, and get them into the game.
3. Train them: They are here, you've matched them to an area to serve, but they know nothing! You have to design a way to train them, yes even those higher skilled positions like audio. A closer look into that topic can be found by reading my article from last month, "Volunteers and Audio: Working With Digital Consoles, Virtual Soundcheck.
And for the tech positions that require less training, make sure they can get that training prior to serving.
4. Advancing them: So here is where it gets harder. Most people naturally want to get better and improve at things. This means not only volunteers, but staff. Your continued success of your entire team development will hinge on your ability to continued growth and opportunities. This will require thinking out of the box, allow people to take risks, and try a lot of new things.
Try an all student led tech team for a weekend service, have your best audio engineer lead an in-house clinic for student ministries, and utilize every opportunity for training.
5. Let them lead: As people learn skills and tasks, use your core team to begin training the next intake of new people. You are not only granting them trust with this new role, but also the responsibility to give shape to the future of the team.
I mentioned earlier having your lead audio engineer give an in-house clinic, have one of your best camera operators give a camera class, or a student video director give a class to new students.
The possibilities here are endless for advancement and leadership.
In the end, the goal for moving from being a doing' culture to a development' culture is a radical shift in team development. To have several layers of mentorship occurring, takes planning and intentionality. However, the rewards to your team to move into a multilevel mentorship will create a new culture of team investment that will transcend generations.