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Author: Mike Sessler

3 Ways to Cast Vision for Your Tech Team

Vision. The Bible tells us that without vision, people perish. Vision was the business and church watchword a while back. It can be easy to dismiss a concept because it’s the hot topic at the moment, but the truth is, vision is actually pretty important. Even for a tech team. Perhaps especially for the tech team. Hiding in the Shadows It’s easy for tech guys and gals to hide out in the shadows of the church and do their thing without anyone noticing them. That is both good and bad. We facilitate the service, and if we do it...

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3 Tips for Improving Communication with Your Tech Team

I’ve been working in and around the communication business for going on 30 years. And one thing I’ve learned about people who work in the communication business is that we are terrible at communicating. But hey, the cobbler’s son has no shoes either, right? Perhaps it’s because we do this all day long or perhaps we just get lazy, but generally speaking, technical directors are not great at communicating with their teams. And I can say that as a recovering technical director. While I’m admittedly not great at it, I have learned a few things along the way –...

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What Your Team Can Do When There’s Friction with the Worship Team

Show of hands; how many of you experience some friction between the music team and the tech team? I’ve asked that question at many classes and I usually find myself looking at many hands in the air. This is a sad state of affairs, but not an uncommon one. Usually, people are in my class to learn the secret to making that friction go away. I suspect that’s why you’re reading this article as well. You are looking for the one thing you can do to make it all go away. While I hate to disappoint, there is no...

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When is DIY a Bad Idea?

“Should we do this AVL install ourselves or hire a contractor?” is a question I’m asked all the time. Too often, the question is decided based on dollars. On paper, it looks like hiring a contractor is always a more expensive option, but this is rarely the case when all factors are considered. The illusion of cost-savings comes from the fact that most churches (and many companies) don’t factor in the cost of labor for their staff. But there is always a cost, and a wise manager will take that into account. This isn’t to say that doing a...

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December Devotion: Listening

Take a little break these days in December and re-center yourself with these devotions from the Sunday| Mag contributors. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (Acts 16:9-10, ESV) I met the Lord in a very personal way in July 1988. I had just moved to Cleveland, Ohio post-college. I was visiting a...

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3 Reasons It’s Okay to Be Out of Control

Hi. My name is Mike, and I’m a control freak. In unison, “Hi, Mike…” Come on, admit, it, you’re a bit of a control freak too. It’s okay to like to have a sense of control. That’s why you stand behind the mixer, lighting console, or video switcher. You want to control how it sounds or looks. You have a good idea of what is right and you want to make it thus. In fact, when you go to another church—even your own church—you sit there in the congregation and imagine ways you’d do it—whatever it is—better. Being in...

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Developing Your Sidekicks

After nearly 25 years of ministry, I’ve come to the conclusion that ministry is a team sport. Those who try to do it all alone don’t typically last that long, and their departure is seldom pretty. And while it is important to take a team approach to tech ministry, I would argue that there are two levels of “team.” One team member is the volunteer who shows up when they’re scheduled, does a good job, and goes home. The other type is the very dedicated, high capacity type who is there all the time. Those are the ones who...

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Mike Sessler: My One Thing

For this month’s Sunday| Mag articles, we asked some of our favorite writers this one question: What’s one thing you’ve been learning all year long that you’d like to share with Sunday| Mag’s readers? In this article, Mike Sessler talks about his sabbatical from church, and what it’s teaching him about keeping a healthy work life at a church. One of the questions I get pretty frequently when people find out I’m no longer on a church staff is this: “So, where do you attend church now?” I’m beginning to take a little bit of enjoyment at the reactions when...

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When Do You Stop the Show?

It occurred to me the other day that I have been doing live production for almost 35 years. I started as a freshman in high school, doing lighting and special effects for musicals. In that time frame, I’ve done more live events than I can count (it’s easily into the thousands…). Someone raised the question recently, “What stops the show?” Answering that question proved more difficult than expected; I recall a single show that went so badly it had to be stopped. Bumps in the Road We’ve all had little things go wrong during our services. Everyone who has...

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Juggling Versus Passing the Ball

Over my 25+ year career (yes, I’m that old…), I’ve received a few pieces of really good advice. Advice that has shaped how I do what I do. Advice that kept me sane. This particular bit of wisdom probably shaped how I approached my role as a technical director (TD) more than anything. Several years ago, I was working on staff at a mid-size church in western New York. I was paid to work 10 hours a week as the TD, and 10 hours a week as the Student Ministries Media Coordinator. We were doing three services a weekend—one Saturday...

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Mixing in Fear

I used to call it “mixing in fear”. We were going through a difficult period in our church, trying to figure out what the “right” volume was. Our worship leader had one idea of how loud things should be and our pastor had another. It also seemed everyone else in the room had other ideas. And there I sat, in the hot seat; waiting for my pastor to come into the booth and tell me it was too loud. Every week. It wasn’t any one person’s fault, really. It was a breakdown in communication resulting from a lack of...

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An Introduction to Untrained Volunteers

Most church tech teams run on volunteers. Finding, training, and retaining those volunteers is one of the hardest things technical leaders have to do. And once we find someone who expresses an interest in joining the team, how to we get them engaged? It’s pretty rare we find someone who already has experience in live production; typically, we’re getting untrained folks who simply want to serve. Maybe they have some related experience, maybe not. Either way, it’s rare we can set a new person down at FOH and have them get right to work. Some churches try this, and...

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