Here I Am to Sound Check

Church tech teams kept worship plugged-in and streaming during the pandemic. But when does the job become too much for volunteers?

The pivot to online services in 2020 put the pressure on church tech and production teams.

“COVID-19 really grabbed churches by the ankles and shook all the change out of their pockets,” said Van Metschke, a ministry and church production veteran who now works for an audiovisual tech design firm in California.

The shift to streaming forced churches to make difficult choices over whether to allocate resources to improve the production level for online worshipers. Even if churches could afford new audiovisual equipment, they had to find people to run it.

“Money isn’t necessarily going to solve the problem,” said Metschke. “Good gear doesn’t fix organizational problems.”

Metschke, cohost of the Green Room Church Tech podcast, has seen a growing number of young people in church technology and production leave their roles over the past two years. Paid tech staff are overwhelmed by the demands of managing volunteers. Volunteers are overutilized, undertrained, and afraid to make a mistake that could derail a carefully orchestrated service.

As in other areas of ministry, tech volunteers want to offer their abilities and interests to serve their congregation. But some churches struggle to delegate duties to volunteers without taking advantage of their enthusiasm. They end up asking them to do what a paid professional should, like troubleshooting when something goes wrong with a computer or camera or wireless microphone, navigating streaming on multiple platforms, or editing video and creating graphics to produce a high-quality recorded service.

Prior to 2020, it was already difficult to recruit, train, and retain enough production and tech volunteers to make services run smoothly. Some tasks …

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