“The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave, is not training them and having them stay.”
Replace the words “employees” with “volunteers,” and this quote by Henry Ford would serve as a great and incredibly accurate reminder for church tech teams.
I highly encourage you to take a few minutes and determine your minimum expectations for each position.
Training your volunteers should be viewed as a critical, carefully-planned and an ongoing part of your tech team ministry. What often transforms a challenging volunteer to one who is a real asset to your team, is effective training.
Having a clear communication of your desires and expectations is a critical part of the training process. I am amazed at how many tech team members do not clearly understand what is expected of them.
When clear expectations are not present, assumptions are made. Over time, these assumptions breed frustration in both the volunteer and with those working with the volunteer.
Some of those expectations?
• Make sure your team understands when you expect them to arrive at their position.
• Make sure the camera operators know to look for shots when they are not on.
• Give your front of house sound operators a calibrated sound level meter and communicate with them regarding what levels you are looking for at FOH.
• If you use Planning Center, ensure that your team members understand the importance of accepting, declining and entering blockout dates.
I highly encourage you to take a few minutes and determine your minimum expectations for each position. Ensure that those expectations have been clearly communicated to your volunteers.
Personalized hands on training is probably the most effective and most common form of training in churches today. Hands on training is extremely effective - if done properly. This type of training should not be done spur-of-the-moment. Hands on training should be planned out, so that everything important is covered and all trainees receive the same information.
If possible, try and include some form of written documentation that the trainee can take home with them. When doing this type of training, always provide a pen and paper to encourage your trainees to take notes.
Stress to your volunteers that questions are not only OK, but encouraged. Also, as you train, remember that learning requires repetition, and then exercise grace when the inevitable mistakes are made.
On-Site Training Events
Training events held at your church can be a great way to allow your team to get hands-on time with your gear in a relaxed environment.
At Creekside Church in Wasilla, Alaska, we look to schedule these types of events on a regular basis, on a night when the praise team will be practicing.
Among the things we do is purchase several pizzas, and invite our long-term team members, new team members and prospective team members to show up. We do a presentation showing what the tech team does and why we do it. We talk about each of the various tech positions and then rotate people through each of the camera positions, director positions, etc., all while the worship team is on stage.
Events like this have helped us at Creekside draw new people to the tech team and also help us make sure that all team members are clear about what their position requires.
I can always tell when it’s time to do another training event. My long-term volunteers encourage me to set up another event to help our uninitiated do a better job in their positions.
Time is an asset many of us find in very short supply. Trying to do all your training in-house can be a daunting and tedious process.
Consider utilizing some of the myriad of online training options that are available.
Excellent training videos are available from companies like MxU, Ripple and even your equipment manufacturers.
Consider setting up a tech team website or use a customizable link resource like Pinterest to link to training videos and resources that are applicable to your church. At Creekside, we set up a Pinterest page for our church media team. We included links to YouTube videos, in-house training videos, and services from other churches that challenge us to do better. We even included website links to every owner manual for our gear.
A few of my more dedicated team members have learned things from these easily accessible manuals and have brought them back to share with the rest of the team. Easy access to online training and resources can be an incredibly effective and a time-saving training tool.
Sometimes, it is also good for your volunteers to see and learn from other tech professionals. Look for training opportunities around you. Is there a regional or national conference where you could send one or two of your more dedicated team members? Conferences like the WFX Conference & Expo next month, or FILO, and events such as MxU Live can be great ways to train, encourage and also help your team build valuable contacts for the future.
Consider covering the cost for transportation and admission to one of these events. If your budget can’t handle the full cost, maybe you can offer a partial scholarship. Having been to a number of these events myself, I can assure you that they will not only encourage your volunteers, but they will also challenge them to learn more about their craft.
Quality tech team training, it’s an investment in your tech ministry’s future that will pay rewarding dividends.