It has been said folks won’t care what you know until they know that you care. I’m not really a tech person per se but I have to live in that world in my position as Director of Media & Worship at my church. The personal disadvantage is I cannot wade very deeply into tech waters without sending an SOS to the world. But the advantage—and the focus of this article—is to try to get us all to remember you are leading real human beings. If they are on your team, it’s probably because they care, they love God and their church, they agree with your mission and they have a passion to use technology in innovative ways to advance the Gospel. That’s a good thing!
The disclaimer is this, and perhaps this whole paragraph should be italicized: the above presumes a lot! I’m not going to go all Jim Collins on you, but please, for the sake of your ministry, church and the Great Commission, if you’ve got the wrong people on your team, get those wrong people off your bus as soon as you can. Do it nicely, do it with compassion. Be Christian, but be direct. If there are people serving under your authority and their heart needs to be fixed, their attitude needs adjustment and their spiritual posture is more of a liability than an asset. YOU OWE IT TO YOUR TEAM, CHURCH AND GOD to release them. I’m not talking about training as training should be an ongoing process. Get the right people on your team today!
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get started with some practical low- and high-tech ways to lead your teams well!
Full Disclosure: I am not paid for any endorsement of any technology or software mentioned.
I can get so busy doing church work I forget I need God to do the work in me. I am now intentionally coming into my office, putting my feet on the desk and reading the Word on my iPhone before anything. I can tell when I’m running on my own strength. That’s when stuff falls apart. Pray without ceasing. Pray in moments. Pray as often as you can.
Get yourself some thank you postcards. Every week write and mail two handwritten thank you cards to your team members. Be specific. Mention why the team is better due to his or her consistent or recent service. It will go a long way in growing your heart for your team.
To be honest, I really struggle in this area. I’m not motivated by a pat on the back so I frequently don’t need affirmations to keep going. But I have to remind myself God made all of us differently; affirming someone’s work is an impactful way to let your team know they are thought of. Put a reminder on your iCal, set an alarm on your phone. But pick some people to affirm. It will become an activity you’ll look forward to.
I have led praise teams, choirs, and musical ensembles for decades. Leading the praise team at my current church, from the outside looking in, seemed rather typical. Nice group of people, in need of leadership, desiring God in private and public worship moments. I don’t recall why it happened, but Harry Potter came up after rehearsal one evening. One of our members spoke at length about how huge a fan she is of the whole series. I mentioned I had not seen a second of any film.
That conversation turned into monthly Harry Potter Movie Nights. We each pick a different home and a night of the week. We have food and we hang out. Before Covid got really bad in 2020, we hosted one in our backyard. Neighborhood kids came over to watch, which gave us an opportunity to tell them about our church.
So, find ways to do life with your team. Take your sound and visual team bowling. Go to a conference with your worship team—especially if it’s in a fun city like Nashville or Dallas. Make your tech team watch an instructional video on some aspect of their church duties—then quiz them by doing a cool take on Jeopardy while eating pizza.
Don’t forget your volunteers and teammates are people. They have families, lives and pressures. Honor their efforts by strategically giving them fun activities to engage in. It’s low-tech with high returns.
Shout out to the great Nikki Lerner when I asked her for advice over a decade ago when I took a church worship job at a large church. She told me two things I never forgot, implemented immediately and still tell others today: get a MacBook laptop and Planning Center Online (PCO).
“It will change your life” is a direct quote from Nikki.
Both are accurate but I’d like to concentrate on the Planning Center aspect.
They have a lot of different offerings but if you just adopt planning center services, it will make things so much easier. It will house your music files. You can schedule volunteers and create teams. You can create a template. I won’t bore you with details because I would honestly be shocked if your church—big or small—did not already have this amazing tech. But if you don’t, get it today. Now. Immediately. It will change your life.
I know there are cheaper options and I have experience with one such presentation software program. My first week on this job I imported a song with this cheaper program and needed to change one word. One. Word. Let’s say it all together:
It never happened.
I had to call in the admin, we YouTubed and googled it, all to no avail.
ProPresenter is an incredibly robust software. You can do a lot of stuff on it and I don’t know how to do it all. But what I do know is all the stuff that matters:
- Importing songs
- Linking ProP to Planning Center and CCLI
- Editing words, copying slides, labeling sections
- Importing files and images
- Incorporating backgrounds and countdowns
And it’s simple to use. Their customer service chat line is very responsive; phone support is all scheduled unfortunately, not immediate. But don’t think something else will work because you saved money. Just bite the bullet, dance to the ProPresenter’s tune and start training your teams on it.
- TEXT IN CHURCH texting service
- Not only does it equip your church with texting options—no one checks email anymore do they?—but they have an automated workflow to engage first time guests
- FLOCKNOTE is also great for texting, does newsletters, more of a two-way functionality
- Both are minimal costs
- Have a camera? HDMI cable? Plug one into a Boxcast encoder, set up a simple broadcast on their app or browser and you’re livestreaming. It’s that simple.
- Minimal cost
- WORSHIP MINISTRY SCHOOL
- An online resource to teach & train your teams how to do almost anything you need in worship
- Course offerings include in-depth trainings on pastoral theology for worship leaders, PCO, how to speak between songs, ProPresenter, using click tracks, how to run a rehearsal, basics for mixing church sound, lighting, recruitment and more
Whether you are high tech, low tech or no tech like my church was, remember technology is here to serve you. We don’t serve it. We serve God and His people. Therefore, utilize the resources available to you that fit the culture of your teams to bring folks to the throne of God each worship service. If banging on rocks leads people to Christ, do it! Then send them a note during the week telling them how much you appreciated their rock banging. Then take them for coffee later. Then take their ministry temperature by asking how they’re doing, are you leading them well, is there anything they need to be more successful, do they understand the mission.
That’s technology we can all use.
Eric Byrd is the Director of Media & Worship at Frederick Church of the Brethren and the gospel choir director at Messiah University. He has a podcast called “Attention to Detail with Eric Byrd”, and a consulting company, VIP Consulting: Leadership Done Well. Join Eric at CFX 2021 as he discusses how to prepare for organizational change and joins forces with Natolie Warren to share the importance of building up women in leadership.