Holding it all together

Readers, if you are a churchgoer and you have had a bristly encounter with a tech person and left thinking less of them, please cut them some slack. People in the booth have lots of things they are keeping in their brain so that you can experience God in a new way each weekend.

If you are a tech person one of the ways, I have developed to switch back and forth between detail Tim and relationship Tim is smiling. I smile even when I am in deep thought and working extra hard to keep things straight. The world doesn’t end when things go wrong. In fact, when things go wrong, you just earned a chance to improve your skill. Smiling will help you remember that.

I am a former full-time church technical director. I also did some audio and lighting work for some local bands and sound companies. Let’s just say that I have been around the block in the tech world. I am largely out of the game these days as I spend the bulk of my time speaking and coaching leaders. But I have a soft spot in my heart for my fellow people in the booth.

I currently serve as a Youth Ministry at a church, but this past Sunday I spent some time in the booth with the crew. They, like all Sunday morning tech warriors, are amazing people. Full of heart and passion for taking people to the throne of God. They indeed are a great group of people, and I have had the pleasure of working with many great folks in booths all over the USA.

As I said earlier, I am mostly out of doing tech. It has been a few years since I have been apart of a tech team in any significant way. This past weekend I was reminded why. Perhaps as a fellow tech person, you can relate to me.

Signal flow is one of the core pieces of knowledge any quality tech person possess. If you don’t know signal flow, you might find it very beneficial to dive in and do some research. Whether it is audio, video, or light, signal flow is essential. Signal flow is the path that any information travels and passes through every piece of gear and out to the audience. A bass guitar’s signal comes out of the bass into the DI box, through the stage box, into the main snake, split snake for monitors and FOH, through the console’s audio path, to the crossover, to the amps, into the speakers and booming out to the audience.

Each system is different. The signal follows a slightly different path due to the different set ups at all venues. One of the first things I used to do when entering a new place to run sound was to investigate the signal flow chain and get familiar with all of its intricate parts. Then I hold this path in my head for each input that is coming from the stage and the booth.

This is where things started to fall over for me. Let me tell you little something about me. I am one of those people that get energized by larges groups of people. Meeting new people, hearing their story, and connecting with them on a common life experience is amazing for me. Recently I was invited by a great friend to a surprise birthday party for someone I had never met with a group of people I never met. My friend knew a few people there, but I knew no one as I walked in the door. I came home 4 hours later ready to shoot through the roof it was so fun, and let’s be honest some of just ran and hid just by reading that. The desire to meet new people is one of the reasons I love being a pastor and serving in a church. Each weekend is a chance to connect with a new face and hear a new story.

But when I am in the tech booth, I am focused on the details of signal flow. The more channels that are coming into the console, the more I have to focus to keep them all straight. This intense focus leaves me relationally empty and frustrated. Also, I am largely unapproachable because of the focus needed to keep these details straight.


I hope you found this helpful!


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