As a lighting designer, the process of getting to know my craft, is one that has taken time. It has, among other things, included hours of reading articles, blogs, and posts. It’s involved studying the rigs, and then running through your head over and over on how to make things work. Then there is programming, and how to work with your console, to allow you to do the very things you are dreaming of.
First off, let’s give praise to our volunteers.
All of this is coming from a full-time lighting designer point of view. Not all of us, though, get to do this full-time. Or we may have the situation, where we are running two rooms at the same time, and we all know we can’t be in two places at one time.
To have us succeed in such scenarios, it means we are leaning on our faithful volunteers to help us out.
First off, let’s give praise to our volunteers. They’re the ones who help out, so we don’t have to work seven days a week. They’re the ones that bail us out, sometimes at the last minute. They may even come in after a full day of work, to help set the stage before a practice or service.
Let’s be real, they’re the real heroes of the church.
Yet the question I was asked yesterday by a father: “How are you going to teach my son to run lights?” I explained to him this would be a several step process. I could have him up and running within an hour, but that wouldn’t help him, if things weren’t working properly.
After the first of the year, we as a lighting team here at New Life will be sitting down for a meal together with our volunteers.
The first thing we need to do is have unhurried conversations. After these unhurried conversations, we will then ask the questions. The main question will be: “What questions do you have?” Because what I know is, I don’t know what they don’t know, if I’m not asking the question first.
Now let me be real. I find myself at times or majority of the time, just fixing a problem that has arisen, instead of showing our volunteers how I problem solved the issue, in the interest of having them learn as well.
In the interest of making some improvement in that area, going into 2020, my team and myself are going to be setting up meetings, where we will talk through the design in the room and how it is laid out. This means we will discuss the fixtures and their channel count. Which then leads us to outlining the possible multiple universe layout.
How can anyone problem solve an issue, if they don’t know the layout of the rig? We will also be talking through programming as well. Because the very problem may not be the rig itself, it could be the way how something is programmed or not.
Another part of these meetings will look at the lighting console and building a show that makes each of our volunteers comfortable to run. We are doing this, because we all function differently. For example, I’m left-handed and I like my console laid out one way. It just allows my brain to run, without thinking every step of the way.
Each of our volunteers is creating an environment for the congregation to worship in. Which means they need to be able to know their console layout inside and out, in other words, knowing their instrument well. It will then lead them to have a greater confidence. Which in turn, creates an atmosphere that is inviting to worship in.
We do know that not everyone will be able to make every meeting, and that’s OK. Life gets is the way.
Knowing this, we are planning on setting up these meeting weeks in advance. This way volunteers will know ahead of time whether they can make it. It also makes it easy for their family to plan ahead as well.
Let’s be real, sports, dance, and other activities can fill up much of the family calendar at times.
We know by talking with our volunteers, they’re excited about these meetings. They feel like they can be a part of something in a deeper way. There is an ownership that also comes when you know the rig, like the one lighting designer does.
That’s not to mention, all of this will give them confidence to fix something when we aren’t around. Which is a huge win for everyone.
With all this being said, we need to remember the most important thing is relationship. Relationship allows us to have honest conversations about their struggles with a console or knowing the layout of the rig.
Jesus went out of his way to have relationship with people, and that’s where he did some of his greatest work. If we want the best for our volunteers, we need to stop and have conversations about the things that their comfortable and uncomfortable with. We can’t do it without them, so let’s do it, arm and arm, with them.