The other worship team member
Have you ever heard of the “fifth Beatle”? Over the decades, we’ve seen a variety of individuals who have been labeled, or tried to claim for themselves, this connection to the lads from Liverpool. These would include original bass player Stuart Sutcliffe, and Pete Best, the drummer before Ringo came on to the scene. While your own praise team might not (yet) have the same notoriety as the “Fab Four,” you may still have something in common with the Beatles in the form of an often-overlooked member of your group: your audio engineer.
No matter the size of your corps or your praise team, there will most certainly be someone who’s responsibility it is to ensure at minimum that the sound is on and working each week. But perhaps it’s time we look beyond the basics of this role in order to give it the attention it truly deserves.
Ironically, when an audio engineer performs their role well, it goes largely unnoticed. Most of the time, we prefer it that way as we serve behind the scenes rather than in the spotlight. But when something goes wrong, everyone notices because there is a distraction from worship that is created. If we truly believe (and I certainly hope we do) that our time spent in worship and fellowship is among the most important time we spend all week, then it is incumbent on us as creators of that worship space to try and limit anything that would distract from that.
One of the most vital ways to accomplish this is by ensuring your audio and video tech is set up and run properly. How do we best approach this? To begin, at the very least we must acknowledge the necessity of sound engineering. The audio engineer is the last stop for the music as it travels from the artists on stage to the audience. As much as any other member of the band, this role helps determine the quality of the worship experience of the congregation. It doesn’t matter if you have Bono himself leading worship at your corps. If the mix is bad, the band will not be able to perform at their best and the result will be a lesser worship encounter for the congregation.
The remedy is simple: make your audio and visual team an integral part of your worship team. This means that they rehearse when you rehearse. They know the music and the lyrics so they will be able to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit just like any other member of the team. Truly, the musicians are each playing their individual instruments, but I heard it once said that it’s the audio engineer that plays the entire band. Make sure your audio engineer and whoever runs any visual component are present and engaged during rehearsal.
You would never expect someone to get up on stage and lead worship without rehearsing properly, so why would you expect your tech team to be able to guide a worship service without practicing either?
The A/V team should also be included in the planning and preparation for the worship meeting as a whole. It’s unfair to come up to your team with your presentation, whether worship or sermon support, on a USB drive with only five minutes to go before a service begins and expect it to come off without a hitch. We want to avoid distractions so the best way to do that is to give the team adequate time to prepare. If you include
them as part of the planning, they may be able to come up with suggestions for supportive videos or other multimedia that may not otherwise have been considered.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is vital to recognize that your A/V team is not just a ministry support but is truly a ministry in and of itself. Those that work and practice to serve in this capacity are fulfilling a very specialized ministry role that is no different than a praise team leader, youth pastor, or anyone else involved in planning and executing a worship service.
Consider recognizing this at your own corps by enrolling a Multimedia Sergeant as a local officer position. This can help your volunteers to recognize the importance of the role they play while offering them a bit of encouragement. Just because we prefer to be behind the scenes doesn’t mean that techies don’t like to be recognized for a job well done!
Don’t make the mistake of overlooking this critical piece of your worship ministry team. Instead, look for ways to include them in worship planning every week. When you do, you will find that you encounter less distractions from worship and more opportunities to affirm the work of your team.