Top Five Essentials for Church Technical Directors
The following is a repost of an article I originally wrote for the crew over at ChurchProduction.com.
I sat down to start putting together a magnificent list of 5 Gear Essentials Every Church TD should have and realized that perhaps five literal items weren’t necessarily what we need. Of course we all have the various bits of gear that are convenient to what we do and make our lives easier but can we still get the job done without them? Absolutely. I have vivid memories of touring with a legal pad, a pen, and an AT&T calling card. Oh how I could’ve used our current technology back then!
Here’s what’s interesting, even with the cool technological advances that have been made in the production arena through the years, the following list holds true regardless of your particular technical area, background, or size of church. I propose that the essential gear we need isn’t literal gear at all—read on for MY 5 essentials:
THE GOD FACTOR
Call it a no-brainer BUT the most essential item I need to make things happen is my relationship with Christ. Most of us have heard and read countless times about how important it is to keep God first and foremost in our lives. How odd is it that our jobs facilitating that message to the masses is the same thing that can zap our time and hinder us from keeping God #1 on the priority list. It’s absolutely essential to make sure our identity is quantified by who we are in Christ, not by who we are as a TD.
Second only to the The God Factor is a proper attitude. It’s interesting how a bad attitude can become the worst piece of gear in the building! Most TD’s have been put in a place of leadership not only for our technical skill but for our ability to rally a team around an event and establish a positive atmosphere. The various creative, music, and pastoral teams are relying on us to set a tone that empowers them to do what they do best.
Another biggie here is knowledge. I hold to the adage that knowledge is power. The more knowledge I can acquire about my craft, the more powerful my ability to lead, solve problems, make decisions, and run events. This doesn’t necessarily mean we should all start taking night classes, but we should work to make ourselves well-versed in the particular medium(s) that is prevalent in our specific church or situation. If your musicians are all into a specific type of music, start listening to it so you can be on their same wavelength. If your creative director is passionate about Disney, get up to speed on some of Disney’s production or creative processes. Make it a point to get out to some conferences or trade shows to learn more about your craft or stay tuned in to different blogs, websites, and published material to learn from others. Being knowledgeable can be one of the more powerful tools we have available.
I’ve heard it said on the road that the touring guys went from good to great by having the biggest address books. Completely true. This is one of the easiest items on the list but often terribly overlooked. I’ll let you in on a secret: I started realizing some success at production when I made a concerted effort to expand my contact list to include other professionals I could call on for advice, answers, opinions, and plain old help. Admittedly, it’s humbling to admit I don’t know everything. Surrounding myself with comrades who can bail me out when I need help has allowed me to do a better job as a TD. The very nature of our team at Church on the Move is built this same way. Although the buck still stops with me as the head of our production department, I’ve built a team with personnel that can do some things far better that I could ever do. Don’t think for a second that these people aren’t highly-valued entries on my contact list.
It may seem a bit trite but this last one is a definite essential for any church TD. When I start talking about “team”, you might assume that I’m referring to a large technical crew but I’m actually referring to a bigger picture. My “team” is this church as a whole, I’m either with it or against it, there is not other way about it. You will never find true success in leadership as a TD without buying in to your church’s vision. When you’re in the middle of a project or event, are you skeptical about it or sold out to it? Your level of buy-in does make a difference. One of the most effective ways to ensure that you are working towards the same common goal is to JOIN THE TEAM. This doesn’t mean you have to wear Toms, deep V’s, or skinny jeans but you DO have to join the team and share in the vision. I’m not aware of any situation where a TD can do their job completely alone—there has to be someone casting a vision, someone communicating the vision through music, someone communicating it through the spoken word, or someone using art or drama or dance or design. Watch out here, before you know it you might just realize there’s a team in the making.
The benefit of these five essential items is that they’re attainable. They can be collected without any type of budget, planning meeting, or approval. They’re with you all the time, are easy to control, and for the most part, are maintenance-free. What could be better? All of us can do this with a simple strategy and some hard work. Any guarantee that it will all be fun? Absolutely not, but a TD who uses these five items as a foundation will be the one that’s truly discovered the beauty found in the road less traveled.