Of course, technicians must never abuse that trust by blaming their mistakes or ignorance on equipment, or by refusing to listen to a musician who needs adjustments in a monitor.
Trust can also be destroyed by performers or technicians whose egos get in the way of working with others. In the sound booth or in front of a mic, the motto should be: “Check your ego at the door.”
I also know how important a good relationship can be between a technician and artist. I spent four years working with the same worship leader.
We had such rapport that we could communicate from sound booth to platform via hand signals.
When the worship leader put two hands on the mic, I knew I had to put more piano level in the monitor. Two hands with a raised index finger meant he wanted more voice. A step back from the monitor meant it was too loud.
The signals worked well because I kept my eyes on the platform, and the worship leader always made eye contact before signaling.
Serve Others First
If we serve others first, we have far less friction between sound technicians and performers. Here are some ways sound people can serve others to enhance their ministry to the church:
Show up early to set the sound equipment with enough time left to pray with speakers and singers before a service.
Provide little extras for platform participants, such as a glass of fresh, cold water near the lectern.
Take the pastor and/or worship leader out to lunch in appreciation for their support. Tell them how much you value their contribution.
Explain to singers or speakers what you’re doing to adjust their sound and why.
For example, tell them you’re moving a monitor two feet to the left so that the sound from the monitor is in the non-pickup area of the microphone and will thus give them a purer sound with less risk of feedback.
The Ultimate Goal
The sound ministry is like custodial service. When it’s done well, few will notice. When done poorly, everyone will notice.
Work as a respectful team, and you’ll find that your sound is consistently excellent, and you’ll have a great time to boot!
Gary Zandstra is a professional AV systems integrator with Parkway Electric and has been involved with sound at his church for more than 25 years.