Training volunteers for FOH in the church is critical for delivering a seamless worship service. In
Debbie Keough’s workshop, she shares some clear steps for training your FOH volunteers for success. Based on that workshop, I have identified 5 effective steps you can begin implementing today:
STEP 1- Get on the Same Page
Begin by ensuring all volunteers are on the same page regarding their roles and responsibilities. Schedule one-on-one appointments with audio volunteers to discuss their tasks and address any misperceptions about what they are being asked to do.
Emphasize the importance of maintaining an established sound, avoiding unnecessary experimentation, and focusing on managing the sound effectively. Define what constitutes a successful mix in terms of tone, texture, and volume levels. Establish parameters for EQ, compression, gates, and FX, using presets and templates for consistency and ease of operation.
When the volunteer understands the expectations and standards it gives them a clear goal to strive toward without the pressure of feeling like they will need to reinvent the wheel each week.
STEP 2- Label Everything
Provide volunteers with the necessary tools and resources to jump right into serving. Maintain consistent terminology and labeling for equipment and settings. Label your XLRs, ins and outs, what channel is what, where batteries are, and the IEM packs. This will not just benefit your new volunteers but the entire team.
Everything having a name and label makes the bridge of communication clear so that volunteers can start helping on day one.
STEP 3- Set Goals and Move at Their Pace
Learning to mix audio and run a console takes a lot of time. No one picks it up overnight. When training your FOH volunteers, consider what are some milestones that you want them to achieve. Allow them to learn at their own pace with a clear agenda for how they can meet their milestones.
Once you sense they have grasped an understanding of something, incrementally introduce them to new things. Expecting a volunteer to know how to learn a console at your pace with no prior experience is unrealistic and will most likely lead to the feeling of being overwhelmed and discouraged.
STEP 4- Use Virtual Soundcheck for Hands-On Learning
Require your volunteers to attend scheduled virtual soundchecks to refine their skills and build confidence. These sessions offer a low-pressure environment for volunteers to familiarize themselves with the console and experiment with mixing techniques.
Debbie encourages leaving them alone for half an hour to play with the mix, and then following up with them at the end of that time to discuss the way it sounds. It’s a perfect chance for them to get feedback about aspects of the sound they struggled with. As an extra bonus, you now have the ability to show them what they could do to dial in the mix the way they intended to.
Virtual soundchecks make mixing accessible to everyone, facilitating skill development and confidence building. If you are not doing them, you should.
STEP 5- Put Them to Work
Provide volunteers with opportunities to mix in real-life scenarios under supervision. Start with low-pressure environments, such as a small room Bible study or youth event, before gradually moving them up to the sanctuary.
By implementing these strategies, churches can effectively train and empower FOH volunteers, ensuring smooth worship for all congregants.
As a last word on the matter, remember to recognize and celebrate the contributions of volunteers. Fostering a culture of appreciation and support on your team is how you create a healthy volunteer culture at FOH, and facilitate a safe environment for everyone to flourish in serving the body of Christ in their roles.
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This article was written by Keith Beck, and edited by JT Boling.