We just finished building a new youth building and we’re about to install brand new sound and light technology. The only problem with sound boards, light boards, presentation software, and other technologies in worship is finding the bodies to run them - and run them well.
The more moving parts a worship service has, the more opportunities there are for students to get distracted by mic feedback, misplaced lyrics, or any other tech snafu that might arise. And you know students don’t respond well to those situations with great understanding and aplomb.
There’s no getting around technology in a worship service. So to ensure fewer distractions, youth pastors have to find time in their way-too-busy schedule to make sure nothing goes wrong in the tech booth.
With that being said, here are five things we can do to prepare well and build a truly great A/V Ministry.
1. Find and Train Reliable Volunteers
The best resource in any youth ministry is a reliable volunteer team. Reliable volunteers show up on time, know the students, and know their roles. Among your reliable volunteers, find the ones who are willing to learn the technology in the tech booth and train them how to use it. At the very least, they should know how to adjust the volume on the different instruments and microphones. They should know how to transition from one slide to another and have the ability to adjust on the fly if the worship leader adds a third verse or another chorus. If you don’t know the technology, find someone (often outside of the church) who does. If you can’t find someone, search the internet for training videos on your equipment and point your volunteers to those resources.
2. Plan Your Services Thoroughly
Nothing frustrates an A/V ministry more than not knowing what’s coming next. What mics need to be up? What announcement slides do they need to display? When does the video play? Unplanned dead space in a youth worship service distracts the youth group, makes the person on stage look unprepared, and can fluster room in a way that ensures the message falls on deaf ears. As we prepare our worship services, create a document that lays out exactly what is happening and when it’s happening. Write in notes that clearly outline what the tech team needs to do. Here’s an example:
Planning Center Services is a great tool to use for organizing worship services. While large plans cost a significant amount of money, teams of five or fewer can use this tool for free!
3. Communicate With Your A/V Team
Before every service, meet with your A/V team to walk them through the service. Address any concerns or variations in your normal service rhythm. Make sure all the videos, slides, and lyrics are in the proper order in the computer. After the service, check with them to resolve any problems they had during the service and ask what you can do to better prepare them for the next service. As an aside, if something does go wrong during the service, never call them out from the stage. These are volunteers (and in some cases, student volunteers) and volunteers are a precious resource. There’s no quicker way to lose a tech team than belittling them from the stage.
4. Start early and rehearse
Plan your services before that afternoon. Send chords and lyrics to the band well ahead of time so they can practice on their own. Start rehearsals at the same time each week and ask your A/V team to be there if at all possible. Regular timely rehearsals allow everyone to work out the kinks. The early bird is the only bird allowed!
5. Make Sure the Batteries are Easy to Find
Mics get dropped, drinks get spilled into floor monitors, and the stage setup can become a victim of a particularly raucous game. In those situations, ensure that the A/V team is resourced to solve those problems. Keep extra mic batteries nearby. Store some extra cables by the sound board in case one is damaged while your students are playing “Find the Chalupa.” Have backups available and easily accessible in case of emergency.
Don’t get sucked into the idea that the only time the Holy Spirit can move is during a worship service. The Holy Spirit is also present as you plan out your service.
Proverbs 24:27 says, “Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.”
Get rid of those distractions in worship by doing adequate preparation for your A/V team. You’ll be able to keep your volunteers and trust them to do the job well!