Tech and creative directors within churches arrive in their roles primarily because of their true passion and talent for technical or creative ministry.
They start out as a volunteer or in an entry-level position and learn and grow from there.
It's a compliment and a reward to advance and be given more responsibility in response to doing well in an area one loves. However, those new responsibilities, like people management, communications and budgeting to name a few, are very different from the technical aspects of the role that were first mastered.
Plus, all of these responsibilities must be accomplished while one keeps up with constantly changing trends and technology. All of this to saythe role of the church tech or creative director is demanding with a steep learning curve.
"Church tech leaders, either paid or volunteer, continually face ever-growing and unique challenges in their role of supporting ministry," says Danny Slaughter, director of WAV (Westover Audio Visual) Technologies at Westover Church in Greensboro, North Carolina.
This moving target scenario can be frustrating and stretch people thin, and at worse, can make an individual who is more than capable and qualified feel like an imposterlike they're the only tech director in the world that can't keep up.
That may be a worst-case scenario, but no matter where you fall on the spectrum as a tech or creative director, professional development and networking are crucial for success and satisfaction, and for avoiding burnout.
Nourishing Your Mind and Network
And how does one fit ongoing education and networking into an already packed schedule? Slaughter points to regional conferences, such as the 2016 WFX REACH Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. "I believe WFX REACH is a great opportunity for regional church production personnel to come together and to grow together. This format provides a more focused approach in communication, education, networking and exhortation without having to travel to a national conference where time and expense may not be in your favor," he says.
REACH Conferences are produced by the WFX Network in two regions each yearthe second 2016 REACH Conference will be held in San Antonio. The conferences provide the essential education of the annual Worship Facilities Conference and Expo on a regional level and in less time.
Slaughter will teach a session titled, "Effectively Communicating with Fellow Non-Tech Staff Members" at the Raleigh conference, part of an educational track devoted to the evolving role of the church technical director. Other session topics include budgeting, live streaming, stage design and time management, and will be led by other Raleigh-area church leaders and industry experts. The San Antonio conference will offer the same track and topics, but the sessions will be presented by leaders from the surrounding area.
"The great thing about smaller and shorter regional conferences is the opportunity to get to meet local fellow tech directors.”
“I think it's important for tech people to have a network of like-minded individuals they can talk with and lean on," says Mark Hanna, former technical director at Hope Community Church in Raleigh. Hanna will present the session, "Recruiting and Managing Tech Volunteers" at REACH Raleigh.
Filling in Gaps
Hanna's goal for his session is simply to help his fellow technical ministry professionals in the areas that don't come naturally to them. "I have never heard a tech director say, I have all the volunteers I need.' When it comes to dealing with volunteers, most of us aren’t prepared for the people ministry side of technical ministry. I know I wasn’t," says Hanna. "So I hope to help with what I think is the hardest, but most rewarding part of the jobthe people."
Similarly, Slaughter aims to make the job easier for the paid tech leaders, as well as those that fill the role in a volunteer capacity, by sharing practical tips for communicating with non-tech ministry colleagues and emphasizing the importance of adopting a "customer service mindset". He shares: "This track allows us to talk through these challenges to develop strategies that allow the bridging of the great communication divide' between tech and nontech staff members and leadership."
The 2016 WFX REACH Conferences will be held May 16-17, 2016, at Crossroads Fellowship Church in Raleigh, and May 19-20, 2016, at Westover Hills Assembly of God in San Antonio. Learn more or register for either WFX REACH Conference at wfxreach.com.