Worship Leading on the Tech Team
When I say the word “tech” the average person raises an eyebrow, looks real confused, and starts backing away if asked to help. They think of a bunch of confusing buttons on a sound board and a computer nerd geeking out at the opportunity to run it. I know that because that was me a year ago when I began working at North Side. I remember being in Travis’ office discussing the job and the tasks that would be required of me and specifically telling him that I did not want to do “all that techie sound stuff.” That “stuff” scared me, because I didn’t know anything about it. My degree I had just completed at Lander didn’t really even require a computer. The extent of my knowledge of the “tech stuff” was that there was a sound booth in the balcony that controlled the sound and probably some other things. I didn’t even know we had a Tech Team. I was very ignorant as to what actually went into making a Sunday morning worship service happen each week. Needless to say my eyes were opened real wide the first week on the job.
The majority of our church family falls into this average person category that I was once in. What I am going to do in this article is take you behind the scenes of what you typically see on the Sunday morning stage and introduce you to some outstanding areas of ministry that you probably didn’t even know existed at North Side. I want you to see the “techie sound stuff” in a new light.
From the get go nothing is planned without first looking at the sermon series scripture and praying over our initial planning time. Once some previous planning has taken place for the sermon series, every Monday we meet to finalize details for the upcoming Sunday and we pray over the service. I say all that to say that nothing, even “tech stuff,” does not happen without God and His Word being the focus and center of all of our plans.
From there we take the parts that we are individually assigned to and start running with more detailed planning. I am going to focus on the tech side. We begin by scheduling our volunteers that we have on a rotation so volunteers aren’t being used every week. It takes eight people each Sunday serving on the Tech Team to make everything you see and hear, as far as tech is concerned, happen. Throughout the week we shoot videos and make announcements graphics. We also listen to the each song and make brainstorming notes of backgrounds to use or different creative effects with scripture, lighting, or videos, etc.
In the auditorium of the Worship Center, there is a room behind the stage that we call the Media Room. This room controls a lot of what you see on Sunday mornings. There are three main computers. The first computer holds the lyrics to our songs and the scriptures for the sermon. Here we create a playlist with each song and sermon scripture for the particular Sunday. We try and make running lyrics for our volunteers easy and smooth. All the lyrics are put in word for word with the chorus, bridge, and verses labeled and color coded. The second computer holds all of the videos, announcements, and backgrounds. Everything you see on the right and left stage screens come from this computer. As we listen to each song we try and choose backgrounds that best fit what the song is saying, the mood it sets, and its tempo. We make sure all videos and announcements are in for the upcoming Sunday. Everything each volunteer will need is in order in one playlist and is typed into the service flow sheet which can be seen on the computer.
The next computer over is used by our Online Producer. Recently we began live streaming our services for those that can’t make it to the actual service. Our Online Producer is in charge of what you see live online. A very important volunteer that I haven’t mentioned yet is the Video Switcher. This volunteer is in charge of what you see on all the screens and plasmas located in the auditorium and around the church building making sure that you are seeing the correct thing, whether that is backgrounds and lyrics, a video, or something happening on stage via our cameras. All of these screens, plasmas, and cameras are shown on a big TV in the Media Room so that the video switcher and other volunteers can see everything going on.
Just like the Media Room there are also three individuals that run tech in the sound booth located in the balcony on Sunday mornings. On the left side of the sound booth is the computer that the Producer uses. This computer holds all the backgrounds, videos, and graphics that you see on the back wall behind the stage. We choose backgrounds for songs here the same way we do the ones for the left and right screens. We make sure all backgrounds coordinate and complement each other adding in different effects as seems fitting. We also put together an iTunes playlist of our North Side Worship music that goes along with the scripture passage for the day that is played pre and post service. The Producer controls the back wall and keeps all techies organized as we move through the service. We wear headsets so that we can talk to each other. In the middle of the sound booth is the sound board which controls all the sound you hear on a Sunday morning. On the right side of the sound booth is our light board. When we finish setting backgrounds for the service, we set lights for each song to match the backgrounds used so that all the volunteer must do is move the correct sliders up and down. Everything is set and organized before Sunday morning so that our volunteers can just run with it when they arrive.
We have practice on Wednesday nights from 6-7:30pm. This is a time for the band and some of our techies to practice prior to Sunday’s service. This practice is not required of our Tech Team volunteers, but is recommended for those that are able to make it. On Sunday mornings we kick things off at 8am preparing for the service. At 8:30am all Tech Team and band arrives for practice where we run through all songs, check the videos, and tweak last minute things. This practice is required for all volunteers. At 9:15am we gather for the most important aspect of preparation and that is prayer. We know that all preparation is meaningless without God at the center and so we want to bring everything before Him making sure that He is glorified above all else.
Our Tech Team is made up of your average guys and gals. None of us have any sort of media or tech degrees. God simply asks for faithful servants and He takes care of the rest. The Tech Team shares a lot of laughs together. You should hear some of our conversations over the headset. This is a great form of ministry that most people don’t know about because it can’t really be seen, but without our volunteers you wouldn’t have words to follow or recorded sermons and so much more. We currently need to expand our Tech Team so if being on stage is not really your thing, then this area of ministry might be something you would really enjoy. You would serve with others on a monthly rotation. On your rotation you are required to serve on Sunday morning from 8:30am-12:15pm. We do our best to train you thoroughly until you feel comfortable enough to serve. You only train in one position at a time. If you’re interested in being a part of the Tech Team, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have often been asked if I am able to worship on Sunday mornings through all the organizing and running around that I do to make sure our services run smoothly. The answer to that question is yes, but not in the way you might think. My worship happens throughout the week in all the preparation that goes into the worship service. We begin studying the scripture weeks in advance and I really begin digging into it the Monday before. I worship as I am listening to the words of the songs while setting backgrounds and lyrics on Tuesday and Wednesday. I worship while running lyrics listening to the band practice on Wednesday night. I worship while watching my brothers and sisters worship on Sunday mornings. I worship through prayer in our meetings. You see all of our work can be act of worship if you let it, even “techie sound stuff.”