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Church Tech Operators vs. Technicians

Church Tech Operators vs. Technicians

There is often frustration with church leadership when things go wrong with AVL during services, especially if the problem isn't addressed quickly and fixed by those serving that weekend. There's a good reason why this happens.

There is often a lot of frustration in church leadership when things go wrong with the AVL during a service, especially if the problem isn't addressed quickly, and even more so if the problem isn't able to be fixed by those serving that weekend.

There's a good reason why this happens.

Frequently, those serving in technical areas on the weekend are merely trained to be operators.

This means that they know enough to turn equipment on, get things up and running, and operate the equipment with some degree of artistic success through the service.

What they are frequently NOT trained for, is how to diagnose and fix issues such as equipment failure, or settings changed to outside the norm for your services.

That's what I would call being trained to be a technician instead of "merely" an operator.

A technician would know more about the details of how audio, video and lighting systems work, far beyond the needs of just the events you normally conduct at your church. If little fingers managed to get at key pieces of equipment and change all the settings, a technician would know enough to set things right again.

They can look at the symptoms of a failure and deduce what equipment is likely causing the issue, and deal with adjusting the equipment or if possible bypassing it to get things operating again.

The training level difference is significant. You could look at it as the difference between being able to read a passage of the bible out loud, and writing an accurate and inciteful commentary on that same passage.

You'd expect that many in your congregation could read a passage out loud in a clear, compelling way; but I imagine you'd expect few could write an in-depth commentary on that passage.

If you want your key volunteers to become technicians, this requires a significant investment in training for them, and likely training from outside educational sources.

When I started my position as technical director at a large church in 2001, I attended a week-long course in audio systems operation and design offered by Synergetic Audio Concepts, so that if things went awry, I could analyze the situation and come up with a fix or a work-around.

It was one full intensive week of in-person training, eight hours a day. And it was like trying to drink from a fire hose.

While I didn't learn everything the course offered the first time around, it was a HUGE step forward from where I started a week earlier.

All this to say, don't expect your average volunteer operator to know how to deal with complex problems that come up.

And if you want someone to be able to deal with those problems, you either need to seek out people who already have that experience level, or you're going to need to invest in some serious training opportunities for your high-capacity, in-it-for-the-long-haul volunteers.

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