7 Tips for Surviving the Church Sound & Media Booth
Congratulations! You’ve made it on the church media team! Depending on your church, you may have worked hard to get here, or you may have been volunteered for the role because you know how "all that technology stuff” works. Whatever the case may be, here are some tips for surviving in the Church Media Booth.
1. Find out what the procedures are and who to listen to.
That may seem obvious, but find out what procedures you need to follow. Again, this depends on the church – you may be the one coming up with the procedure! But this doesn’t stop with discovering the order in which to turn things on or how to format a projector slide. Find out who you should be listening to. It seems like everyone has an opinion about how things should look or work, and you can’t please everyone. Know who is really responsible for deciding how things are done. This includes how loud or quiet the sound is. Church members have a tendency to let you know that they disagree with the positioning of the faders.
2. Be prepared.
If you don’t know how something works, take the time to find out. Ask questions, even the dumb ones. In some circumstances, you will be the only one with any workable knowledge about what you’re doing. If that’s the case – do some research! Be sure to arrive early enough to have everything together. There will be days full of last moment requests by the speaker, the overseer, or whomever, and you won’t have time to do your normal routine if you wait until the last minute. Test your video, audio, and images within reason. You don’t want everyone to see a mistake the same time you do during service on a giant screen.
3. Have patience and roll with it.
Things happen. A lot of those things like to happen in the sound and media booth: an unavoidable Windows update, a signal problem with the microphone, cameras for streaming suddenly turning off. Then the speaker might ask you to load a song you’ve never heard of and impatiently stare at you (along with half the congregation) until you find and play it. Or you might be in the middle of an important church drama and accidentally stop the music. It can be a terrifying and patience-testing position. Just know that things happen, people don’t always understand, but it’s going to be okay! Remember, you’re doing this for the Lord. (You might also pray that He helps you figure it out as quickly as possible.) This one can also be alleviated somewhat by following tip #2.
4. Always be watching and listening.
This one was always drilled into my head, and for good reason! It can get easy to drift off into your headspace only to snap back to the super loud sound of a new speaker on the microphone making everyone’s ears bleed after a previous, much softer-voiced speaker. Many problems can be avoided by simply paying attention and watching for any cues.
You must absolutely communicate with the other people on your team! Lights, sound, camera, projection – all need to be in sync. When people have to guess and assume, it leads to a disjointed team and the effects are apparent. Also communicate with speakers. When do you need Scriptures or other parts of their presentation? When are announcements due? Making it clear that things take time helps others to understand they need to bring things beforehand and not drop a 6-page sermon and three videos on you two minutes before service starts.
6. Stay humble.
You may be volunteering in a sometimes thankless, often overlooked and unseen position. It’s easy to think that it makes you the humblest person – someone who doesn’t desire the spotlight. But pride can fester quickly when you wield the power to turn down someone singing on stage or know that without you, no one would be able to read the words on the screen or watch live on Facebook. Know that your place is important, but don’t let it cause you to be a prideful know-it-all. God can use someone else if He needs to, even if you think that their skills are far inferior to yours.
7. The altar is for you, too.
Your church may work differently, but I know what it’s like to be in the media booth for nearly every service of the year. It’s easy to excuse yourself from going to the altar, participating in prayer and worship, or really taking the sermon to heart. Yes, you’re in a position that’s important. But you should always follow the Holy Spirit. Volunteering in the sound and media booth is not worth sacrificing your relationship with God. Don’t let complacency toward Him settle in your heart as you display His Word on the screen or turn up the lead vocalist singing His praise. The altar is for you, too.