So why would a church hire on a part- or full-time audio director? Great question!
You will never achieve a solid house mix if the band is not "dialed in" on stage.
Typically, the lead pastor and the worship pastor (or leader) are responsible for their portion of the service. The lead pastor most often is tasked with the preaching, while the worship pastor deals with the music and creative. While they may be different personalities, they both usually want consistency.
One of the main reasons people don't bring their friends to church is they are unsure from week to week what it will be like. Sometimes it's to loud, sometimes it's hard to hear. Even the pastor's mic is inconsistent each week.
People notice these things.
Many churches have a heavy focus on the music itself. That being said, positions are needed to get a consistent musical standard each week. A music director and an audio director help to accomplish this. And while an AD maybe in charge of audio in all the venues on the campus (or even on the multi-sites), the primary focus is usually audio mixing in the main auditorium for weekend services. Therefore, the services should be consistent in sound, tone, and volume. The others who mix can then adhere to that very baseline. Striving to make sure that the audience didn't realize there is someone different mixing, from week to week. Consistency was always in the forefront of our process.
So how can you be a great Audio Director?
Get ahead of the game and find out exactly what's happening before game day. Stage plots and input lists are crucial. With all the tools at our disposal, there is no excuse for not being prepared. Programs like Google Sketch-Up which are essentially free can help you virtually set up the stage. Use Planning Center's Stage Layout function to get an idea of what goes where.
All too often, the sound team arrives just before the band and sets up as the band is setting up. This doesn't give the band, and certainly the worship leader, confidence that things will go well.
Get there early and make sure that everything is ready and checked, before the band is set to arrive. If you can, set up the day before. This will give you time to line check and troubleshoot, without pressure or distraction. I know that this one is hard because we all have busy lives, but it pays off.
Let's face it; many serve in tech to be "behind the scenes". If you are a leader, you will have to interact with the people no matter your gifting or personality. When the band arrives, go up on stage and hang out with them. Say, "Hi." If you don't know anyone, introduce yourself. Help them set up. Yes, help them!
Check In With the Worship Leader.
When the worship leader arrives, make sure you greet them and ask them if there is anything you can do for them. Most worship leaders have a lot on their mind as they hit sound check. Making them feel comfortable will go a long way to making the sound check and the services go smoothly. They need to be confident that you are "on the same team."
Remember, those on stage are putting their lives in your hands. If they don't know you and believe that you have their best interests in mind, they will never trust you.
And trust is key.
Put the Band First.
Although the mix is for the audience, sound check is first for those on stage, and second for the house mix.
You will never achieve a solid house mix if the band is not "dialed in" on stage. Once you have those on stage happy, you will have more time to refine the house mix.
Minimize Chaos and Be Consistent.
Sound checks can get out of control quickly, so work out the system you intend to use with your worship leader in advance not in front of the band and singers.
One of the best sound check methods is to direct all communication between the stage and the sound booth through the worship leader or, if you have one, the music director. One person asking for changes minimizes chaos and honors the leader. Bottom line, find what works for your team and use that method every time. Musicians may be unpredictable, but that doesn't mean they like that trait in others.
Attitude is Everything.
I would venture to say that most techs are a little on the dark, sarcastic, and cynical side. While I personally love that, it doesn't always sit well with the band.
Most techs do not realize how much courage it takes to step out on stage and put your talent and reputation up for critique by hundreds or thousands of people each weekend. Your support, not only technically, but personally, can really make a difference in how they play and act on stage during the set.
Walk Across the Room.
If you are not friends with your band and singers already, start today.
You will find they are great people with families, jobs, successes, and failures in their lives just like you. Some of the greatest friendships I have today started in bands I worked with many years ago.
Relax and Have Fun.
"We Get To Do This!"
Never forget that God has given you this opportunity.