Jan 7, 2011 12:00 PM, By Mark Johnson
A week in the life of a church technical volunteer.
Historically, smaller churches run very much by the seat of their pants or on a wing and a prayer. As a church grows, logistics and planning become more important. Generally, there are more people involved in the production of the service, and the production of the service is more complicated technically. Because getting a large volunteer production team (plus singers and musicians) together during the week for rehearsals or production meetings can be problematic, good advance planning and communication are key elements in having successful volunteer technical ministries and smooth-running services.
We try to establish routines and procedures that are scalable that we can all do on a consistent basis and incorporate them through all venues on the church campus. Those venues include our main sanctuary, the old sanctuary (renamed the Family Ministries Chapel, where we also hold services and our youth meets), and our Fellowship Hall (where the kids ministries meet).
Specific documentation that we developed for our use includes an Order of Service form, which breaks down the service into sections and lets us know what will be happening on the platform and who is involved at any given time in the course of the service. Another piece of helpful documentation is our Mic Matrix. It is a listing of our wireless microphones and who will be using a particular mic during the sections of the service. The Order of Service, the Mic Matrix, and the cues on the PM5D all reflect the same steps that happen as the service progresses, so there is continuity in how we address the proceedings of the service.
Churches often have rotating groups of singers, or at least a variety of singers who will participate in a service on a week-to-week basis. I find in many churches, for example, singers grab whatever mic is nearest to their hands and start singing, often changing from one mic to another over the course of the service. Our mics are numbered and set out in order (1 through 6 are designated for the praise and worship team, mic 7 is for the soloist who will sing with the choir, and mic 8 is for whoever will be singing special music) and the same location each week. This info is noted on the Mic Matrix. The singers are responsible for remembering what mic number they used during rehearsal and then using that same mic for the actual service. The exception to this process is if someone is pulling double or triple duty and singing at other times during the course of the service (for example, singing on the praise and worship team and as a choir soloist). That person then uses the same mic throughout. We’re able to cut and paste the singer’s mic settings from the initial cue into subsequent cues and make minor adjustments for the particular song.
Our basic goals during the service are to support the church leadership in presenting the message and not be a distraction. Distractions during a service can manifest themselves in various ways including bad or too loud (or too soft) audio, shaky video, and too active lighting.
Since there are so many amateurs involved in the production of the service, another key is to reduce the margin for error. This could by simply an operation or process, or a limit on the number of times a microphone gets handled to just one or two people.
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