“Welcome to the team! This is our SQ-7, don’t forget to sync Dante up; also we need to run a line for a stereo Kemper setup. See you Sunday!”
How many of us have been here? Or, how many of us have mistakenly put one of our volunteers or new staff members in this position?
This isn’t really our fault though, is it? No one trained us on how to train others. We just had to figure it out as we went along. The key to becoming a consistent and sustainable production team is training. When you have a plan for training and equipping your teams you unlock the full creative potential of your team. Not to mention when your team feels equipped they are 82% more likely to stay for the long haul. (Brandon Hall Group) This sounds basic, but I know I certainly struggle with creating and implementing systems that are second nature to me.
Where should we start? Cable winding, masking tape procedure, or signal flow? Here, we are going to highlight what we think are the 5 Areas where Production Teams NEED systematic training. This is not to say there aren’t more, cause there are endless areas where training could be needed, but these are the top 5 we think every member of your team can benefit from, whether they are brand new, a veteran, a sound engineer, or a lighting designer.
Area #1: Church Mission and Vision
This one is a no-brainer, but often times we assume that members or long-time attendees understand the mission and vision of the church. The WHY is always the best starting point. Even if you have been there for years, being reminded of why we do what we do informs how we do what we do and gives us the motivation to do what we do. Frustration and burnout don’t stand a chance against someone on a mission.
- Take time to spell out your church’s mission and vision.
- Describe why that matters to an IEM engineer or the stage manager.
- How does that role impact the mission of the church and the portrayal of the gospel to your congregation?
Having a structure for how this is presented to all staff members and volunteers will give you a foundation to build on as a leader.
Area #2: Workflow Optimization
We all have our own way of doing things. From cable organization, signal chain, labeling, and sound checks, there are 100 ways it could be done.
- Spend time documenting how things are meant to be done and why they are done that way. Not only will this help you to train new volunteers but it will also allow anyone to come in and immediately know what is going on and how to handle it. As technology changes and evolves you will not need to make major changes because the system in place will remain the same.
- Having an optimized and systematic workflow that is documented will give you more time to pour all your creative energy into your services instead of having to troubleshoot the same thing every weekend because Jerry redoes the signal chain every week and swaps out the reverbs for the vocalists.
“I served on a team where the worship leader would plan 6 months in advance on planning center! That sounds crazy to many people, but it was so helpful to be able to plan my on and off weekends so far in advance. It also gave him ample time to find replacements if people declined.” – JT, SALT Marketing Manager
Area #3: Communication
This one kind of overlaps with the previous two training areas, but communication really is key. Production can be a complicated and overwhelming area in the church. Your volunteers want to do their best, and that is difficult if no one told them the key information that could save 15-30 minutes of troubleshooting before service. Something as simple as putting colored tape on the mics or knowing how long the pastor is planning on preaching. Being in clear and efficient communication can help you not only make your services more professional and excellent but can alleviate the “chicken with your head cut off” feeling we so often get leading up to a service.
Area #4: Basic Skills Related to Their Position
This one is most important for new volunteers but still applies to veterans. It is always important to be learning and growing in your giftings and talents. And there is ALWAYS room to grow and learn. No one knows it all.
There are some major obstacles in skill-specific training.
- One of them is that technology is always changing. By the time you get some training outlined for your volunteers, you will be upgrading to a new PA or changing out your lighting program. Or, Pro-Presenter will come out with a new update, making your training program outdated.
- The alternative to a planned-out training program is a 1-on-1 approach which is common in the church world. The problem with this approach is it takes time to walk through every possible situation, explain the basics of the technology you are working on, and then really dive deep into the more complex techniques. It is just not efficient. Also, it is so easy to forget or miss a very important concept when doing 1-on-1 training. Not to mention you need training to train others in the first place!
Finding a way to provide training that is tailored to your equipment, and your worship needs, and keep it updated with the latest technology is hard on your own. A great resource that our own team curates and uses is SALT University. It’s a tool specifically designed to equip teams with skill-based training videos – for production and many other areas where you may need to train your volunteers. The key feature is that you can create training programs for your different teams. As they learn, you can track a volunteer’s progress so you know when they’re ready to run a service.
“I volunteered as a camera op and to run lyrics. My team lead had a binder with step-by-step instructions for pre-service and post-service responsibilities for each role. How to turn the camera on, where gear was stored, etc. This was HUGE in me being successful, especially when I was gone for a week or two.” – Katelyn Johnson, SALT Director
Area #5: Team Dynamics
Being intentional in thinking about and writing down your team dynamics, your culture if you will, is not something many leaders will do. Sometimes we hope that people will just be kind and collaborate and get along without us having to do anything. But the reality is if you are not intentional about the kind of group dynamic your team has, you may find it evolves into something you did not want.
- Creating that dynamic should be intentional and born from the heart of your mission and vision we talked about earlier.
- How your team communicates and the way in which they interact with you, congregants, and each other should be set forth by your vision. More importantly, your communication of those things.
- This is an ongoing process, continuous training, and effort must be exerted to create a creative, collaborative, and encouraging environment in your team. And consistency from you will inspire and encourage your team. Soon enough you will find that heart and culture embedded in every aspect of your team and it will show up in a big way on Sunday mornings.
What are the areas we need training on again?
- Church Mission and Vision, making your church’s mission and vision the backbone of everything your team does is the best place to start. And being consistent in that mission and vision day after day is what really makes the difference.
- Optimizing your workflow and documenting it will allow you to be able to step away and trust that your team is doing things systematically and efficiently.
- Communication really cannot be overstated. Labels, processes, emails, planning center, slack, Asana, Monday, use whatever you can to communicate clearly with your team ahead of time and in the moment.
- Basic Skills training is the most time-intensive and ongoing training. It is our job as team leaders, staff, and volunteers to pursue continuous improvement for ourselves and our team. Find a system that works for you and your team.
- Team Dynamics or expectations are just icing on the cake. If you can direct and lead your team well in this area all the others will be 10x easier. But you have to be intentional about this area, it will not happen magically.
Training can so often become an obligatory part of ministry, or a new job or service opportunity. But if that time is used wisely and to its full potential, it can transform your team and your church.