Soundchecks and rehearsals are very difficult beasts to wrangle in a church world.
The soundcheck is the starting point for any service or performance and oftentimes, as the soundcheck goes, so goes the gathering.
The main reason?
You have different levels of talent from both sides of the aisle coming together, working to create a worship service or performance, to lead congregations in what is hopefully a God-honoring gathering.
In churches, obviously talent levels will range far and wide, depending on the size of church and staffing opportunities. The fact remains that for most churches, the media and the stage talent generally lean on many volunteers to pull off services each week.
What does it take to have an effective and productive soundcheck, week in and week out?
The first and most important factor would be a clear understanding of expectations between the stage talent and the media department. Neither can function well autonomously, but without a clear understanding of expectations by either, neither can function together. Each needs to agree upon:
- arrival time (the media team needs to always be there before the worship team)
- who leads what part of a soundcheck
- who dictates directions to various members of the teams, both worship and media
Second, it is the job of the media team to make sure that everything is checked and ready as soon as the worship teams hit the stage. Nothing can derail a soundcheck faster than when the media team begins to uncover obviously avoidable problems at start time. Whatever this means for your media department, you must have a checklist of sound, video, and lighting areas that get checked each Sunday, long before any worship staff or volunteer arrives.
As the director of media, I arrive no less than one-and-a-half hours before the worship staff enters the building. It is incumbent on the media department treating each soundcheck and rehearsal, as if it is a live performance. With that in mind, depending on the size of your church’s paid staff, you must instill this mindset in your media volunteers. They must work with the same urgency as you, or you will find yourself with massive frustration from those on the stage.
All that was said above about preparedness, in no way means problems won’t come up.
When you are dealing with technology, people, and church, problems always come up. However, if you are prepared on the front end with your checklist, it makes focusing on the unavoidable more manageable.
Third, the media and worship department must have a mutual respect for each other. No matter the size of your church or the size of your staff, it is imperative mutual respect is obtained and shown from the time the first note is played, until the last amen is spoken.
Far too many times, I have watched the worship and the media teams argue and undermine one another to each other, even in front of volunteers, and also near to congregants, who may show up early to save seats or just simply to listen in.
A soundcheck is the first step to a successful service. This is the point where our teams practice and prepare our hearts to become a catalyst for God, to work in people’s lives.
If we don’t respect one another when that first note is played, we are creating a barrier that makes it harder for God to work both in our lives and ultimately in the lives of those who are sitting in that room.
The media department at your church maybe comprised of you and one other person, or it may consist of you and 20 others, both paid and volunteer, working with and around you each week.
Make sure that you understand the expectations, check every piece of audio, video and lighting for proper functionality, and finally ensure that you build a culture of respect from the back of the room, to its front.
If we can all work toward a common goal, and shed our pride and arrogance, our personal agendas and goals, then we can really be a tool used by God to help change lives. Remind yourself each Sunday that it begins with soundcheck as well as with your attitude.
Don’t use soundcheck as a time to get ready, but as an opportunity to iron out wrinkles and fix problems.
Finally, soundchecks are a time to invest and pour into the team around you.
While you don’t want this to be your only training tool, you need to not miss the opportunity to train people up spiritually, as well as professionally.
Remember, while technology is great and necessary in our culture, it can be a massive distraction when it fails. Do everything you can to make soundcheck smooth for the stage, by being ready and this will help move you into a smooth and distraction-free service.