The Seven Deadly Sins of Technical Ministry

1) Don’t look Up. The sound board is where the action is at, so please, keep your eyes firmly planted on the faders and VU meters. They will tell you everything you need to know about the service flow.

2) Don’t rehearse.
Rehearsal is for the band and singers to work out all their mistakes. There’s a good chance that they’re going to change what they’re doing by Sunday morning anyway, so spending valuable mid-week time rehearsing lyric cues and mixing cues is just a waste. Better to let the thing fly together last minute.

3) See a knob, Turn a knob! Look, the service lasts a really long time. You’ve got to fight boredom somehow. One great way to do that is to start tweaking knobs. Pick a knob that you’ve never really paid attention to before (AUX 7, for example), and just start spinning the thing. What could possibly go wrong?

4) Mock the ignorance of others. You’ve spent years reading every issue of Mix, Sound on Sound, Audio Visual, and Tape Op. You’ve been to the trade shows, tweaked with the gear, assembled the system, labeled every cable and built every computer. You know more about how this system works than anyone else could possibly know. Good news! This gives you the right to mock people who know less than you! Knowledge is power, and baby, you got the juice! Is the worship leader saying that his monitor sounds muddy, when what he clearly means is that he wants a 3 db bump at 4.8k on his vocals? Mock away! Did the pastor suggest adding some additional lighting to the stage so that the drama is more effective? Don’t just educate him on the limitations of the current sanctuary wiring, suggest that you find it hilarious that he didn’t already know!

5) Don’t anticipate.
A worship service is a fluid environment. If someone picks up a microphone, don’t assume that they’re going to use it; wait until those first few words are out until you take it off mute. Does the band sound like it’s ramping up to go back into another chorus at the end? Better let them actually get there before you throw those words on the screen. Better to be lagging behind on every single stanza than wrong once!

6) Refuse to acknowledge the existence of less expensive alternatives. Sure, we could pull off that drama this weekend with the use of two well-placed PZMs and a lapel mic, which we already own, but wouldn’t it be so much cooler to buy 12 brand new headworn wire mics, a rack’s worth of expander/gates, a new board with assignable mute groups, and a diversity array receiver? When the elder suggests that this solution might be a bit outside of the church’s budget, take personal offense.

7) Be con-active. Anyone can be pro-active. Being con-active takes discipline, determination, and true character. “Wow, that buzz is pretty bad!” Yup. “Any idea what might be causing that?” Nope. “Maybe we could isolate each channel to see if it’s coming from a pickup, or maybe a bad cable?” It’s probably the lighting. “So your suggestion would be to ignore it and assume someone else will take care of it?” Yup.

Dedicated to all of the hard-working and talented tech people I’ve worked with, who embody the positive antitheses of these sins. Chief among these are Lee and Randy Castner.

4 thoughts on “The Seven Deadly Sins of Technical Ministry

  1. Chad

    I love you.

    And when I say I love you, I mean in the non-masculine, ministry-ending sort of way.

  2. Stick

    Classic. That right there makes me want to drop everything and become a worship leader.

  3. Bobby

    Don’t forget about attitude – after all – you’re the SOUND MAN. (heroic music) Everything about the service depends on you, so act like it! Don’t let inane details like EQ and levels take precedence over the really important thing – YOU! Sure the audience thinks they are there to see the service, but you know better! Make sure everyone knows who is in charge (you) and why (because they are just the “talent”). And if they still don’t get the message, tweak their mix during the service to remind them.

    For the record – the soundperson (that’s for you Aly) at my church is the opposite of these things too. Seems like the really good soundmen have great attitudes and people skills, and the guys that act like a-holes are just trying to cover for the fact that they’re not that great. Surely there are exceptions, but I’d rather have a nice guy that is less good than a jerk that will blame everything on you.

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