I know I’m not the only one who’s been through this. After multiple interviews with highly respected church techs, it’s just the same story running on a loop. We’re problem solvers and heroes by nature. Mixing and working production in churches require management skills and essentially requires us to become a critical support structure.
And that’s not optional. The entire reason we’re here is to make the show go on. We have taken on weight and responsibility to not only do it all well but to do it better the next time. I fully understand that during seasons of change and growth extra effort is unavoidable. If we have managed our time of rest and actually participated in life, we’ll be better prepared to carry the additional loads when they arrive. We can, but I didn’t.
As production folks, we know what we bring to the table. We take ownership of the systems and events in ways we can feel proud of. The very idea of relegating some of that pride-inducing responsibility to another who might not share our level of commitment seems inconceivable.
But we have to. If you’ve never worked with a top-notch crew on a high-dollar system, you might not comprehend the power of a well-trained team. For the pros, it’s their jobs, but for the church tech, it’s often in addition to another job. I feel your pain. Figure out a way to sleep late or go fishing at least one Sunday a month. It might mean planning ahead and waiting until you have one competent person trained, but start that process now: Success without a successor is ultimately failure.
If you’re entirely responsible for everything it’s impossible to replace or promote you. Possibly the most powerful lesson I learned during the toughest days in that position was how to delegate as much as possible. Many hands make light work and if everyone is cross-trained on multiple positions, life gets easier. You just have to let others play with your toys and make sure they know how to use them.
Before I finally left the final church position, we had built the crew up and taught every volunteer to work each position with some degree of competence. We also had a handful of exceptional volunteers capable of mixing front of house, monitors, video, lighting and multi-tracking services and events. It was relatively smooth sailing at that point because there were a lot of good people covering all the bases.
Finding A Co-Pilot
In my experience, most churches aren’t big production powerhouses. Many of the ones I’ve worked with have sanctuaries with less than 300 seats and a 16-channel mixer. It doesn’t take a big team to manage that, but someone usually needs to be there when the lights are on. In addition, bringing in at least one more player creates some camaraderie and splits the load.
If what you’re doing is worth doing maybe it’s worth it for someone else, too. Have you asked anyone else to jump in? Are you too aggravating to work with? Do you resemble a small insect in a spider web struggling to stay alive back there week after week?
First, figure out why you’re the only one, then figure out what you’re going to do about it. Moving forward requires searching for solutions to make each event a little smoother and more polished than the last one. We must be problem solvers as a consequence. We can’t have the same problems repeat themselves, so we fix things. So, fix this.
If your weight feels like too much to bear take a break. If you’re flying solo and just can’t, make a plan that enables you to fix it so you can. Trust me, it will be better in the long run to rest a bit than to burn out completely and ultimately abandon the post entirely.