In this interview with Phil Bowdle, we discuss the tech team at West Ridge and tension?points during their Easter and weekend services.
What are some of the challenges you guys experience in making rehearsals and worship all happen?
The biggest challenge in this area, just like all churches, is that we have a ton of moving parts. Each week, we have worship gatherings in our main service, kids, middle school, high school, and young adults. Every single time we do a service, there are hundreds of things that have to come together to create a powerful worship experience. It takes building solid systems to organize every aspect of what we do so we don?t have everyone running around like a headless chicken trying to pull of a service.
How do you search for and train new volunteers for tech positions?
In each of our areas, we create on-ramp roles that almost anyone can get engaged with. This allows us to get new volunteers involved with the team and see if they have what it takes to do some of the more skill-specific roles that we have. We have far more success in this area shoulder-tapping people that we want to pursue rather than doing a broad call to anyone that might be interested.[quote]We have far more success with volunteers, shoulder-tapping people that we want to pursue.[/quote]
For training, we?re spending a lot of time right now developing sustainable systems and job descriptions for each area so that there is clarity on what it takes to do each job well. We?re finding that the areas where we have the best systems are the areas that we?re going further, faster.
How do you evaluate your tech and systems?
We evaluate every day. This starts by creating a culture of evaluation. We evaluate everything we do. After rehearsal, we?re evaluating and tweaking. After the first service, we?re evaluating and tweaking. On Monday in our Creative Team meeting, we?re talking through ?what?s working, not working, missing, and confusing.?[quote]We evaluate every day. This starts by creating a culture of evaluation.[/quote]
As we do this, we find that we?re often identifying ?system issues? and ?people issues?. If it?s a system issue, it?s a process that we need to clarify and fix because it?s going to be an issue no matter who we have in a specific role. People issues are identified and show us areas where we need to do intentional leadership development, training, and sometimes finding a new area for someone to serve.
How do you avoid hurt feelings in this?process?
By creating a?culture of evaluation, it doesn?t catch anyone off guard when we make a tweak or change. They know that?s part of what we do. But that still doesn?t make it easy. Evaluation in a creative field is challenging because by the very nature of what we do, we are creating something that is personal to us.[quote]By creating a?culture of evaluation, it doesn?t catch anyone off guard when we make a tweak or change.[/quote]
For me, I don?t make it my goal to avoid hurt feelings. As a leader, it?s my role to communicate a clear objective and expectations around everything we do. When everyone has clarity around that, these type of evaluation conversations lend themselves to clarify those expectations and find a solution for how we can together meet the objective we both want. It?s important that as we evaluate, we?re evaluating what we create, not who they are.
What pieces of technology do you wish you had?
I?m just like every other creative in that I wish we had more toys to work with. I?d love to have more moving lights, cameras, wireless microphones, and a line array.
A tension we face in creative ministry is that our ?ministry? is often the equipment we use to execute the ministry. That said, that can also become a crutch for creative teams to get lazy and avoid finding creative solutions to do the job.
For us at West Ridge, our biggest focus right now in our pieces of technology is getting healthy and sustainable. It?s less about getting flashy and more about having the foundational tools we need to create an engaging environment. So practically speaking, we?ve invested heavily into lighting that can create color and texture (no matter what the set design is). We?re investing in having enough wireless mics and in-ear packs to create a clean stage. We?re focusing on getting solid gear that will last us for the long haul instead of getting more cheaper gear that can often create issues. The technology isn?t what makes us creative. Solving problems and using the tools that we have in a memorable way is what makes us creative.[quote]Solving problems and using the tools that we have in a memorable way is what makes us creative.[/quote]
How do you go about making it a team?not just the tech team serving the worship team?
This is a vision thing that starts within our core Creative Arts staff that it takes every single person and team doing their role to pull this off. If we don?t own that and lead from that truth, it won?t translate to our volunteers.
Something that helps guide this is that we have a Producer for each service that helps keep all the teams working together. Their goal is to keep all our tech/media/worship teams going the same direction and making sure everyone has what they need to do their job well.
We share wins together, communicate vision and direction for each service together, and do life together. We?re creating a culture where it?s one creative team working together to accomplish something bigger than we could ever pull of with each team working unto themselves.