Lighting and Volunteers: Hand Off Tasks to Allow Team to Grow

Perhaps the single best thing I have ever done to enable my volunteers to learn, is to be able to tell them confidently, “play around on the console whenever you want. There’s nothing you can do to it that I can’t fix.”

 “It is just easier if I do it myself.” 

These might be nine of the most popular words that add up to be an absolute ministry killer of church tech teams.

Yet, I feel like no matter how many churches I’ve been to, and helped over the years, these words pop up time and time again.

I know that I too have been guilty of these thoughts many times in that past. They can still creep in when the workload starts to feel overwhelming, and the big projects pop up.

By nature, I’m not a people person; I’m a tech guy, so I’m perfectly content to just deal with the computer renderings, to fix lights, and program the console.

Therefore, to develop a healthy crop of volunteers was particularly difficult for me, but I do have a few tips that I hope will be of help.

First off, use that mindset of “it is just easier if I do it myself,” to your advantage. There are certain things that are easier if you take care of them yourself, and for some of us, that is literally our job.

Identify the individual tasks that you would do by yourself, and make sure your volunteers never have to think about them.

One such example is digging into your lighting console. Know it inside and out.

Perhaps the single best thing I have ever done to enable my volunteers to learn, is to be able to tell them confidently, “play around on the console whenever you want. There’s nothing you can do to it that I can’t fix.”

In addition, you should know your console so well, to where you’re creating new ways to make it easier for your team to use the console, even making it more enjoyable for them to be on.

When looking for ways to craft your tech team, surround yourself with people who compliment you, not people just like you. One of my biggest hurdles to overcome was the relational factor with my volunteers. To make this work well, I needed people around me that could show me what it looked like to care about people first, and gear second.

I was blessed to be able to build a team around me who are just great at this. I am also able to balance them out in keeping their focus on the gear, when it needs to be there.

If you recognize that you aren’t great at connecting with people, don’t try to connect with a lot of people when trying to grow your team. Rather invest in one or two individuals, who are great at investing in many.

Another issue I learned to overcome in my time in the ministry, is that you can’t forget to periodically check in with your volunteers.

I know you’re probably thinking, “who forgets about their volunteers?!” The answer I pray is none of us.

It’s not that I forgot they existed, but I would forget to see how they’re doing as a person, and in the ministry itself. As a result, early on in my career I would lose volunteers, because they would get placed somewhere to help out, and I then would make the mistake of just assuming they liked it there, and never ask for any input.

Some of these people serving in volunteer roles loved where they started out, but needed to move on to other things. Since I never asked, one day they just left.

It’s so important to ask them before they need to ask themselves. That way they know the subject is approachable and feel open to asking you about the other options that are available to them. So even though you’re probably running things in your main room every weekend, don’t forget about the volunteers, no matter where they are!

So how do you accomplish that best? A cup of coffee, for example, goes a long way. Let’s face it, lighting people live on coffee, so why not invite your volunteers to have a cup of coffee with you? From there, just chat with them about how their life is going. Maybe they need you to step up, and be a spiritual leader in their life. Or they might just need someone to listen to what’s going on in their life, and to know that their opinion is important.

One of the absolute hardest things I ever had to learn to do with my team, was to give away the hard projects, taking them off my plate. When I say this, I’m talking about those projects that you think are meant only for you to do, but sometimes you just don’t have the time or capacity to handle them.

Being that I’m a lighting designer, for years and years, I thought I needed to be the one who designed everything. Unfortunately, this put such a strain on my family life, because I was always at work building renderings or making phone calls to coordinate the gear I needed to finish the task.

All while I was still managing my day-to-day responsibilities.

One day, it just got to be too much, and I had to give something up that I wasn’t comfortable giving up at first. I gave away camp designs, and some other monthly requests that would come up to my team.

It turned out to be one of the best things I ever did.

The talent I discovered as a result that was previously lying dormant inside my current team was amazing, as they produced things I would never have even thought of.

One of the main keys as a leader, is to always be mindful of communicating the vision of your church and how it relates to lighting, so those on the team have the right tools to do the job correctly.

The team at Trinity Fellowship to date has developed their skills and talents far beyond what I ever thought I could help them to become. When my time in the ministry comes to a close, I know I’ll be prouder of the people I grew and led, than I will be of the designs I created over the years. 

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