Yesterday I shared the plan we developed for a wide scale recruitment campaign at our church encompassing four areas of the arts:
- Dramatic Arts
- Musical Arts
- Technical Arts
- Visual Arts
Some of you may be thinking, “I know that artists do drama, create visual artwork, and perform musically, but technical artists? What is that?”
Before we move on to what actually happened in the campaign, let’s unpack this issue briefly. The names we give to people matter.
Most performing artists have the mindset that the “AV guys” (sound, lighting, projection) are glorified computer techies who like to dabble in geeky stuff like sound boards, wires, and gadgets and do not have a clue musically. Those same “AV guys” often think that performing artists are whiny, finicky, uppity, difficult-to-please people.
Unfortunately, sometimes both are true, but that is not the complete picture. Churches who stop there will end up with technical teams and artists who are always fighting for power and cutting each other down.
A Different Way
Followers of Christ are called to a different standard. Jesus prayed that everyone would know we are Christians by our love, not our superiority, technical mastery, or any other prideful and sinful perspective of ourselves. In that same vein I believe that Christian artists are called to a higher standard where we support and honor each other rather than fighting for supremacy.
Secondly, working on the technical team is a highly creative calling.
- Discerning musicians and sound professionals alike will quickly point out that a great sound man is also a good musician. Mixing a great monitor mix or FOH mix takes not only technical savvy but also great ears and artistic sense.
- Lighting is by nature a creative activity. The brightness, color, and focus of a light has great impact on the mood in a room.
- Running projection requires a sense of beat in order for the operator to change the slides at the proper time.
- Creating projection slides definitely requires a creative touch.
- Even working as a stage hand can be creative, from the way cabling is done (there IS a right way and a wrong way and the right way looks and works much better) to the layout of equipment on a stage.
Those on the technical team deserve to be treated as artists and not as second-class button pushers. If you call your technical people artists, you are communicating several things to them:
- Your work is important.
- Quality matters.
- Think creatively, not mechanically.
- Behind-the-scenes workers are as important (if not more so) than those in the limelight.
- The computers, sound and lighting boards, and other equipment are instruments, not tools.
- Because you are working with instruments, treat them with care.
By referring to technical volunteers as artists just as we call actors and musicians and painters artists, our hope is to encourage unity rather than factions and creativity rather than rote service. Time will tell, but I believe the end result will be greater unity and effectiveness, and a greater sense of calling among all of our artists.
What about your church? Do your technical artists and performing artists work together well, or are they pitted against each other?