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Volunteers – Wash, Rinse, Repeat !!!

In our role as AV consultants and integrators for Churches across Southern Ontario we are constantly being introduced to creative ways in which the various Churches we come in contact with operate their ministries.  And without singling one Church out specifically, I wanted to share with you an idea I came across a few months ago.

One thing that is consistent among many of the Churches we visit is the need to engage members of our congregations to participate in helping with activities, tasks, programs, charities and events that inevitably require individuals to volunteer their time to help with.  And while there are a great number of dedicated volunteers doing great work in our Churches, I think it can also be said that there are always other individuals who are not currently as engaged as we might hope they might be for a number of different reasons both personal and practical.

So yes, we would all like to have as many people in our Church communities involved in the the great works we do for God and within our communities.  The old adage “many hands make light work” comes to mind.  I might also reference the 80/20 rule (referred to as the Pareto principle), which suggests that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people.  So how do we get better buy in, and where to start.

Well for one Church I came across the “where to start”, comes quite simply from them knowing who their congregation is.  Because if you do not know who your congregation is, how can you expect to know who has what skills, who has what interests, and how someone might want to serve.  So as a regular part of what this Church does, they have a one-page questionnaire which asks their congregation a few simple questions (which could be different for different Churches):

  1. Who Are You {and how should we contact you)
  2. Do you like working with {children, youth, adults, elderly}
  3. When would you like to serve {Sunday Mornings (before, during or after service) or Weekdays (mornings, afternoons, evenings)}
  4. What Sounds Good to You?
    • Youth Ministry
    • Children’s Ministry
    • Office Work
    • Grass Cutting
    • Prayer Group
    • Tech Team (PowerPoint, Sound, Video)
    • Facilities/Property Team
    • Choir / Music Ministry
    • Snow Shoveling
    • Hospitality
    • Ushering/Greeting
    • Set Up Team
    • Landscaping
    • Special Needs
    • Adult Ministry
    • Bulletin Stuffing
    • Hand Bell Band
    • Homeless Care
    • Communications Team
    • Office Help
    • Worship Team
    • Missionary Work
    • Convalescent Care
    • Woodworking/Repair
    • IT work
    • Cooking
    • Decorating
    • Special Project help

The questions may seem fairly rudimentary in nature, but it gives your worship and team leaders a clear indication of what individuals are interested in. Which in turn can be used by your worship and team leaders to follow-up with one-on-one contact with the specific individuals to better understand their skills, and to make that personal connection.

Finally “Wash, Rinse, Repeat“.  This is not meant to be a one time questionnaire to be used once and discarded.  Rather a tool that is used on a regular and repeated basis to assess the areas of interest of both new and existing members of your congregations, and one which can help simplify things for your Church when you do need to “ask” for help.

 

Audio 204 – CONTROLLING STAGE VOLUME FOR CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP (4/4)

CONTROLLING STAGE VOLUME FOR CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP
(4 of 4)

AMPLIFIER ISOLATION BOXES

The final culprits in sound sources which can drift out of the direct control of the sound tech are guitar amplifiers.  Traditionally electric guitar players have their amplifiers on stage next to them, and we mic those amplifiers in such a way that allows us to boost or cut the level of the electric guitar as needed.  But as was the case with the drum kit, the level of an electric guitar amp can easily become excessive beyond a level that can be effectively controlled by your sound tech.

As with the drummer, communication with the guitar player is an effective first step in trying to get the volume of a guitar amp under control.  It could be as simple as turning the amp so its energy (from either the front of back of the amp) is directed off stage.  Alternatively diplomatically explaining to the guitar player that “you love what they are doing,  but that you do not have any control over the volume of his guitar volume” , may be all that is needed to get them to turn their amp down to a level which is controllable by you as the sound person.

But ultimately you still do not have complete control over the guitar amp, and it will still contribute adversely to the overall stage volume you have been trying to minimize.  So as with the drum shield, you might consider a couple of options:

  • You could consider placing your guitar amps in an Isolation Box/Cabinet and micing the guitar amp from within the isolation cabinet. This will allow you to have full control over the guitar level, but it is not without its own drawbacks. For example some guitarists want to hear their guitar directly from their amp, so putting it in an isolation box is not always a popular option initially for an electric guitar player.  At the same time thought needs to be giving to the guitar amp itself as it needs to have some ventilation so it does not overheat and cause potential damage an expensive (and perhaps loved) piece of gear.
  • Alternatively, some guitar amps will allow you turn off the speakers in the amp cabinet and simply send the audio feed directly into your sound system without amplifying the guitar from the cabinet. But again your guitarist(s) may not favour  in only being able to hear their guitar in their in-ear or floor monitors.

Good luck in getting everything under control. Just keep in mind that the best starting place is to work with your worship team and musicians in finding solutions to your audio challenges.

 

 

Audio 203 – CONTROLLING STAGE VOLUME FOR CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP (3 of 4)

CONTROLLING STAGE VOLUME FOR CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP
(3 of 4)

DRUM SHIELDS

As far as loud audio sources that are concerned, the overall level of your drum kit is traditionally a large factor in how loud/quiet your overall house level gets set at.  That is because your drum kit is usually the anchor of the band, as well as your overall mix. Read more

Audio 202 – CONTROLLING STAGE VOLUME FOR CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP (2 of 4)

CONTROLLING STAGE VOLUME FOR CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP
(2 of 4)

IN-EAR-MONITORS

jbl_vrx915m_15___500a3841044e1_4_0d2db5af-8a39-4733-84b2-7a1013e517b1While you may not think of it as an audio source, if you are using traditional stage monitors for your performers to be able to hear what they are doing, stage monitors do indeed contribute to the overall volume of your worship space.  And while you do have control over the volume (and mix) of the stage monitors, you probably find that the level of your house mix will always need to be louder than it would need to be without the monitors turned on. Read more

Audio 201 – CONTROLLING STAGE VOLUME FOR CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP (1 of 4)

CONTROLLING STAGE VOLUME FOR CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP
(1 of 4)

In the world of Church Audio for Contemporary Worship there are a number of challenges you will be faced with in both setting/balancing the house mix as well as the mix for the performers on stage so that everyone is happy.  A key to being able to do this effectively from a sound perspective starts with being able to effectively control ALL sound sources in your worship space. Read more