For years, churches had music ministers. As worship music changed, the Worship Leader role emerged. Decades later, technology is present in essentially every church, and the Technical Director is emerging as a crucial role in worship; not just producing services, but shaping how our churches use technology and how we spiritually disciple those who serve in production.
Technical Directors are the next Worship Leaders
For years, music and worship ministries typically consisted of a single music minister who would lead choirs, aid in song selection and help curate services.
As contemporary music became more popular, a new role emerged: the worship leader. The worship leader was similar to the traditional music minister, but with a few differences. There were the same emphases on leading teams, planning services and working with the preacher to connect music with the sermon, but there were also new music styles and instruments becoming the norm. This required a different skillset for leading band-driven worship teams made up of volunteers from various musical backgrounds. The Worship Leader role has continued to grow and is now common in churches across the country.
As worship styles moved to band-driven teams, new challenges emerged for the church. Screens replaced hymnals and bulletins to help dynamically engage worshipers. Audio systems were upgraded to handle the added amount of microphones and channels required for the new worship teams. Cameras were added so folks could see the preacher and the worship team.
As worship music changed and created the Worship Leader role, the demand for technology in worship has created a new position: The Technical Director.
What is a Technical Director?
The Technical Director (TD) oversees all aspects of live production and leads the production team (which consists of audio engineers, lighting designers, video directors, camera operators and similar roles) to execute the creative vision of a live event. In worship, the Technical Director leads the production team and works directly with the worship leader and other leaders to craft the worship experience.
Since the Tech Director is a new role and mostly unseen, it is often misunderstood and under-defined. The church needs a vision for what a Technical Director can and should be.
Tech Directors are leaders
The primary goal of a Tech Director is to create worship services which enable others to worship. Similar to a worship leader, TDs also have the task of building and leading teams of paid staff and volunteers. Where a worship leader helps decide how we use music in worship, the Tech Director facilitates how technology is used in worship.
Tech Directors build and lead teams of paid staff and volunteers. You can’t expect a single volunteer to make a service happen, it requires a team to pull off technological excellence. However, building a production team is different than building any other kind of team. You can’t ask anyone off the street to come and run a light show or mix a service the same way you could ask someone to stay and stack chairs after service. Production takes specialized training and skills.
Just like a Worship Leader might work with a team of various musicians, the Tech Director works with every role on the production team to execute the service. Because production requires multiple people that are highly skilled, Tech Directors can’t be doers of everything, they must be leaders who equip others to serve in production.
Facilitating how to use technology in worship.
Tech Directors should be concerned with how we use technology. We are the gate keepers for technology and we help decide how our churches use technology. We should be leading the conversation about how we as Christians use technology, not just leaving that up to pastors.
Specifically in worship, we collaborate with worship arts and creative teams to explore how technology can enhance the vision and values of our churches. We then utilize technology intentionally to create distraction-free environments which enable others to worship.
Tech Directors are ministers
As we build and lead our teams, we don’t seek to only produce services, we shepherd our teams to make disciples of Jesus.
We care for our teams
Working in production is hard to understand without being on a production team. It’s often isolating and there’s a high pressure to be perfect because your mistakes are seen and heard by everyone. (Hence the phrase, you don’t get noticed until something goes wrong.) Production teams are unique, behind the scenes roles that don’t often get the credit or recognition they deserve.
This is where the TD steps in. As a Tech Director, it’s our responsibility to make sure our teams feel valued and appreciated. We remind them how crucial they are and we care for them as a community that serves together. Since production has one of the highest rates of burnout, it’s our job to ensure our teams have healthy habits of serving.
Spiritual leadership & pastoral care
We are responsible for the spiritual growth of those on our teams.
Because we work through worship services, we engage differently in worship than someone on the worship team or in the congregation. We must be sure our teams are still being fed spiritually. This could be anything from praying together before a service, to modeling how to engage in worship while we serve, to making sure each member is actively engaged in community outside of the worship service.
We are pastors, ministers and theologians who study, grow and make disciples. Just as a pastor or worship leader, we should have rhythms where we can visit our teams during the week and times for us to study and grow as leaders.
Tech Directors are worship leaders
To run production is to lead worship. People follow the lyrics we project on screens. Our lighting cues direct attention to what’s happening in the room. We are responsible for creating and enhancing the worship experience.
Our work enables others to worship
Production teams make it possible for others to worship. How can you respond to the message if you can’t hear the preacher? How can you know what’s going on if you can’t see who’s speaking? How can the worship team lead if they can’t hear themselves?
We shape how people worship. Just like a worship leader shapes how people worship through song selection and leading music, we use technology to create environments that enable others to worship.
We use technology to create beauty
Instead of sticking to the basics of production like hitting cues on time and making sure things work, great production teams enhance worship through beautiful experiences.
In the same way a guitarist can play a beautiful solo or a choir can sing a moving song, an audio engineer can craft a beautiful mix, a lighting designer can create wondrous paintings of light, and a visual artist can evoke scenes that point to our Creator. Beauty glorifies God and production teams have incredible ways of creating beauty through technology.
We lead worship by serving
Production teams have an amazing opportunity to lead through serving others. We serve musicians through great mixes and projecting lyrics. We serve pastors by adjusting their mics and displaying content on screen. We serve the congregation by hitting cues at the right time and using technology to make beautiful worship experiences.
We go above and beyond in serving to build relationships and show others how much they are valued. Our service is an act of worship that glorifies God and leads others in worship.
Production teams might seem like they’re just making mics and slides come up at the right time, but actually, the production team has the ability to dramatically change the way we worship.
Leading the production team is the Technical Director, who’s not only a highly skilled technician, but is a leader and minister who creates technical artists and disciples of Jesus.
The Technical Director is the Next Worship Leader.