One of the most important aspects of every weekend is the “sound guy” at your church. He or she plays a major role in every component of the church service, whether it’s worship, announcements, prayer time, preaching, or the response time. That’s why it’s important to know the best ways audio directors can serve lead pastors.
Throughout the entire service, things can go really smooth (which we always hope they do), or they can go south quickly if there are some technical glitches somewhere along the way.
As a result, the relationship between the lead pastor and the live production or audio director must be solid. Sometimes in churches tension arises between these two parties, but that simply cannot happen.
That’s why we compiled the 21 best ways to be a successful Audio Director at your church. When these 21 are front and center, the church and the pastor are best-served and the audio staff or volunteers thrive.
The audio person at any church is like the CIA. You seldom hear of their “wins” but always know their “losses.”
We’ve heard pastors accuse their sound boards of being demon possessed, or you may have the parishioner who complains, “It’s too loud, not loud enough, squeaks, squeals and squawks.”
Sound familiar? It doesn’t have to be that way! Here are 21 sound bites every lead pastor loves to hear from the person who sits at the controls every Sunday.
(NOTE: Would you like to improve the sound for your church services? This video interview with Hillsong UK’s Head of Production gives practical tips on how churches of any size can improve their sound and make for an even better worship service experience.)
The 21 Ways Audio Directors Can Serve Lead Pastors
1. Recognize it is not about me.
Jim Collins in Good to Great talks about the five-star leader. Andy Stanley talks about the inverted pyramid structure. But it’s Jesus who portrayed it best for us in servant leadership. We are called to love God and love each other. Always remember, it’s about Him and He’s who we do this for.
2. Remember, the Lead Pastor’s vision is your vision.
While you are not a wallflower, you do have opinions and vision and it is critical you understand your vision needs to merge seamlessly with the Lead Pastor’s vision.
3. Be yourself.
You are who you are. Your lead pastor knows that and so should you. Relax. Be genuine. Be yourself. You’ll be better for doing so.
4. Develop spiritual awareness of yourself and your volunteers.
Yes, your work at the sound board is technical. However, your service to the church is spiritual. Be aware of where you need to grow and develop spiritually and do the same for the volunteers who work with you.
5. Own it.
When a mistake happens, don’t deny it. Your lead pastor knows it and sometimes lots of others do as well. Smart audio directors and volunteers own their mistakes. Besides that, it makes it easier to celebrate your “wins” when you do so. Blaming equipment or speaking technical won’t get any team down the field.
6. Be low maintenance.
Here’s the deal. “Don’t bother the sound guy or he’ll bite off your head” and “Don’t poke the bear” are too frequently the mantras of working with audio directors or volunteers. The more you have your own emotional and spiritual servanthood under the control of the Holy Spirit, the easier it will be for your lead pastor to work with you.
7. Don’t distract.
One of the greatest gifts you can give the church is to draw attention to that which is front and center in the service. We don’t distract or take away from, we are here to help people encounter and not experience. As we always tell the lampy’s, no one goes home singing the light show.
8. Get over it.
Look, stuff happens. When you’re dealing with people, bumps occur. Get over it. If your emotions run wild, you need to put them under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and keep looking ahead. We celebrate together, we commiserate together, we move on together.
9. Be the best budgeter.
Sound/Audio budgets are known to be black holes of money spent. So… why don’t you break the mold and demonstrate to your lead pastor that you are his best team player on the budget side of things? Be smart, look for deals and demonstrate fiscal responsibility.
10. Don’t Complain.
God has given you a wonderful opportunity to serve your lead pastor and the church. Will some things get tough? Of course. However, don’t complain. Always address issues with solutions in mind.
11. Repair when possible.
Listen, what church do you know of that has so much money they can always buy to replace. Be creative and savvy in repairing everything you can repair. Even Disney hands down equipment from park to park and uses equipment until it no longer works.
12. Become the master recruiter.
It is not the lead pastor’s job to recruit for you, whether from the pulpit or through the bulletin or video announcements. It is your job to constantly be looking for talent to bring onto the team. Your best recruiters are those on your team.
13. Become the master trainer.
One of the greatest weaknesses of flat and declining churches is that they seldom (if ever) train new volunteers. I don’t care what setting you are in, you must train, train and retrain those who volunteer with you.
14. Inspect what you expect.
You may be the sole person at the sound board week-in and week-out. However, all audio volunteers should be regularly assigning even the smallest of tasks out to others. And when you do, you have to inspect what you expect.
15. Pitching projects rests in timing.
You can become a great asset to your lead pastor when you talk with them about projects in the right time and right way. Don’t be constantly begging for stuff. Help the leader see the benefit to them and the church.
16. Be neat.
Come on now. I know there are cords everywhere and I know you have people coming and going in the sound booth, but please be neat. Steve Jobs mantra of the things unseen should still be art can hold true for you, too.
17. Don’t fear the lead pastor.
Your pastor wants the best for you. It may not always seem that way, but in any healthy church the leader has expectations and those include you being the best you can be at the sound board.
18. Understand your leader has more on their mind than you do.
This can sound a bit condescending but hear it out. You take your role seriously in producing the best possible sound experience for everyone in the church. Your lead pastor wants that as well as they want all the other things they’re responsible for at the 30,000-foot view level.
19. Have no personal agenda.
There are not many things worse than trying to create the right kind of atmosphere and sound in a church. Remember, it’s not about you. Don’t try to manipulate the lead pastor or other volunteers with an agenda that is yours personally and not that of the lead pastor or church.
20. Hold all things loosely.
While you are the primary player in making the system work correctly, it is not yours. Your ministry in sound and the privilege to serve in this arena is given by the Lord. Don’t be possessive of your style, system, etc. Be willing to change and even let go of some things, knowing these things are all a part of the church as a whole.
21. Pray for the lead pastor.
You can take this to the bank. If you will regularly, daily lift up your lead pastor to the Lord, asking Him to guide and direct the steps of the leader (even in the bumpy times), you will see the Lord advance the vision of the best sound possible at your church… and lives will be impacted for eternity because of it!
The church is blessed to have volunteers or staff members who desire for it to have the best sound possible. They are not serving to drive the pastor crazy. These wonderful servants of the Lord want the pastor and the church to be effective in the mission to reach spiritually lost people with the Gospel.
When sound/audio team members adhere to the 21 sound bites listed above, very good things happen at the church and mission is accomplished.
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Ready to go deeper? Make your church audio sound perfect every single weekend.
Church Audio University is the premier course for church production directors and volunteer audio teams. The live production of every church service will make or break the experience for visitors and attendees. When churches work to improve their sound, they minimize distractions and maximize the opportunity to experience God.
This online course is taught by the Head of Production for Hillsong UK, Stephen Maddox. In it, Stephen walks with you step by step to help you improve your church’s sound. With practical teaching and hands-on learning, the audio team at your church will gain proven insight from a experienced audio engineer, regardless of the volunteer’s previous experience or knowledge in church production.