Lighting is incredible!
Volunteers are awesome!
How do we get them, though, to be awesome together?!
Let’s dive in with the fine people that lead church lighting teams! I’ve been in your shoes.
A lot of you are worship leaders, tech directors, audio guys, lighting guys, or just someone in your church who happens to know the most about computers. Either way, you have probably heard the phrase, “You need to rely on volunteers to do that …”
Therefore, let’s dive in on how we can engage, teach, and empower volunteers to be awesome in our particular realm.
First thing first, as we need to define where we are going. If we can’t clearly communicate our vision, goals, core values, and expectations, we will have a nearly impossible time finding people to step up who want to stay on, continuing to volunteer for the long haul. Volunteers want to know what the goal is, so they can make tangible progress toward that goal.
Under my leadership at Journey Church in Norman, Oklahoma, it looked a little like this:
Our vision is to excellently support our pastor and his creative vision. We are called to create atmospheres that connect and do not distract, and we will do all this in a fun way!
Create beautiful lighting, continue to grow in our skills, and maximize what we had by being good stewards.
We love people (others, self, everyone). We serve others. We lead with integrity. We bring others along with us, and we worship in what we do!
We are on time, have a good attitude, are teachable, have fun, and communicate well.
Once this structure and direction was set up, we communicated it a lot. I found that if I was not annoyed by how much I was reteaching the whole of the team our direction, then I was not getting it through to everyone.
It is important to share with the people you do have, to make sure each team member is headed in the same direction.
Next, we need to find people to serve with us!
Every church I’ve ever been in contact with, has had some sort of difficulty with this aspect.
We all need another person to join us. This is probably the hardest part. There are lots of people in our churches with never-ending lists of things to do.
There is good news, though. Lighting (and tech in general) is fun!
If we create systems that make it easy for people to serve, we have a really strong chance at creating our dream team!
For our team at Journey, we looked for the person on the edge, and pulled them in. We found that high school kid who nobody quite got. We also encouraged our then-current slate of volunteers to bring their friends.
Our team was full of people who weren’t understood, but together, we had community, and this changed the world!
By creating our direction and sharing it with people, we all could unite around the same micro goal.
Just as important as finding new people, was showing love to the ones we already had on the team. First, it is good for people's souls to encourage them. Always spend twice as much time encouraging, as you think you should! Encourage even the small steps.
Are you frustrated with the things someone is doing wrong? Encourage even their small wins and moves they accomplish in the right direction.
This bringing in of people relies on two other very important things, in that you must always be reaching out and must encourage everyone to love each other (even if they don’t like each other).
Once you have created and communicated the direction, and started to bring more people onto your team, you must encourage growth toward your goals and give correction to those who are not hitting those established expectations.
Excellence thrives in excellence, so if you do not hold everyone (including yourself) accountable, you will not be able to reach your sought-after goals. More than that, people that are great, desire to be around great people, all while having a hard time accepting mediocrity.
As you encourage people to grow, you will find that some people excel when given a specific task or are called to lead. Pour most of your time into these people! You should spend 80 percent of your time, developing those 20 percent that are your best people. Encourage these leaders to teach, lead, love, and encourage those around them. This will make them better, encourage others to reach that 20 percent, and create margin.
To best guide your team, build systems for training. By building checklists, how-to videos, quick references, and written documentation on processes, it will save you an insane amount of time. More than that, it will give your team the confidence to know that if they don’t remember something, that they will have a lifeline (other than yourself) to figure something out. Don’t over complicate or brand these, it is better just to create the content to use right away.
If by chance, someone becomes toxic on your team, do not hesitate to take action! Call that issue to light with them individually, and communicate that a change is necessary for them to remain on the team.
If that team member continues to be toxic and they fail in trying to fix it, ask them to step off the team, with the invitation to come back in the future. Make it very clear that when they come back, that toxic attitudes will not be tolerated and that you are excited to see them excel and grow in the team, after a time of waiting.
I know such an approach seems pretty harsh. It is also incredibly hard to do in the moment.
However, remember that God has called not only us, but them to greatness. God has plans for us to prosper, but not at the expense of others.
When we allow repeated unhealthy behavior to fester on our teams, it ends up hurting everyone. Encourage healthy behavior, and people will do their best to move in that direction.
Lastly, when you don’t know a specific thing or how to do a particular task, reach out to someone who has been there before! There are hundreds of tech directors, leaders, etc. that have gone through what you have, who can offer some much needed guidance.
Ask the Lord for wisdom, then seek their advice. We want you to succeed and we are here for you!