The Church Musician at Work, Part 2

by vernsanders on March 16, 2010

I am posting about some of the things I talked about with a group of Brehm Center students earlier this month at Fuller Seminary. My task was to lead them through a couple of chapters of Bob Kauflin‘s recent worship book, and share some of my perspectives based upon 40+ years of being a professional church musician. Part 1 of this series is here.

Kauflin says this:

“If your church doesn’t use hymnals or songbooks, the person handling the projection of lyrics plays a crucial role in enabling people to engage with truth about God.”

I don’t think Kauflin goes far enough. In my opinion, the most powerful person in the building during any worship service is the tech.

I am not anti-technology when it comes to worship. But as a professional church musician I have heard far more complaints about the sound system, or the video projection, or the lack thereof than I ever have heard about music or musical style. Want to hear from your congregation after worship? Just induce some unexpected feedback someplace during the service…and try hard to have it happen at an otherwise quiet moment. They’ll line up to tell you about it.

I am also not trying to bash techs. In fact, the technical aspect of worship ministry is akin to being a part of a customer service call center. As a tech, the number of times you are going to hear “great sound this morning” over the course of your lifetime in ministry will probably be counted on the fingers of a man named One Fingered Jake. For a tech, no feedback (and I mean the congregational conversational kind) is the best one can hope for.

There are two things that are important here:

  • As a leader, if your tech does a good job, be sure to tell them so, because it is likely that no one else will
  • If your tech is responsible for problems during a service, yelling at them after the fact is not the most productive way to solve the problems

I try to use each instance of a tech problem as a teachable moment, no matter how much I might be personally upset at the fact that the problem happened. Mistakes, either errors of omission or commission, happen. Just as with a group of musicians, however, the object is to avoid having the same mistake happen twice.

What do you think? Got any tech horror stories? Any tech affirmation strategies? Please leave a comment and let me know how you deal with the joys and struggles of the technical aspects of worship ministry.

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