Building (or even keeping) a media ministry team in the church is a challenge.
For 11 years, I wore many hats in my small church in Kentucky. I was the youth minister for seven years and lead pastor for four.
I changed light bulbs, and cleaned bathrooms and floors, all while leading, counseling, and planning. Been there? I know I’m not alone. I was in a paid ministry role at the church. Many of you aren’t. You’re full-time teachers, factory workers, doctors, accountants, parents, and grandparents.
You’re a volunteer doing everything you can to balance work and home life while serving your local church.
Presently, God has me ministering in a new and unique way. I help hundreds of churches resolve issues with their church presentation software every day. I love it, but I often hear the discouragement in many volunteers’ voices: “I’m the only one running the media at my church. I can’t see us ever having a media team.” I’ve heard this more than once while assisting a customer. My heart hurts for them. I know what my small church was able to accomplish despite our size. We serve a big God that has a mighty purpose, even in small churches!
More than 10% of our church members have served directly on their media ministry team. I want to share a few ideas that worked for us. I understand that every church family is unique with its own set of gifts and talents, and cookie-cutter formats don’t always work. But my #1 goal with this article is to inspire, encourage, and help you start building a strong media team:
4 Ways to Build a Flourishing Media Team
Organization is huge. Alexander Graham Bell said, “Before anything, preparation is the key to success.” You wouldn’t send a contractor to build a house with just a hammer and a pocket full of nails. Why would you send your volunteers into a service without all the right tools? Here are three tools every volunteer needs in the toolbox.
1) Put the Right Tools in Place
Free Training: I loved training my volunteers, but training took time. It’s tough even finding a time to meet that worked for everyone. If you’re among the fortunate that use MediaShout 6 as your church presentation software, you have a ton of resources at your fingertips. With MediaShout 6, you could have a volunteer download the 30-day trial on their personal computer, and watch the free short training videos at our website. Your volunteers can download the trial, watch the videos, learn the language, and create and run MediaShout presentations without needing much training from you.
Support: The weekend you take off for vacation is the Sunday a new volunteer calls you with a technical issue! Here’s an easy solution. Tape MediaShout’s technical support number to the computer screen. MediaShout is the only church presentation software with phone technical support, and the only one available seven days a week. The super-hero support staff can even remote right into the computer and resolve your issues quickly. Your volunteers are never alone.
Volunteer Mode: So what if you have a volunteer candidate who has never touched a computer in their lives? Hard to imagine, but it could happen! Don’t count those volunteers out. MediaShout has a feature called “Volunteer Mode.” Once the service is put together, with a few clicks of a button, you can enter “Volunteer Mode.” This allows a volunteer to run the entire presentation by simply tapping the spacebar. Prepare your presentation well before Sunday morning and your volunteers can take over, regardless of their training level. Anyone can push a spacebar. You can even password protect Volunteer Mode.
2) Schedule Your Volunteers with Purpose
During my scheduling time, I’d rotate volunteers between the sound board some Sundays and the church presentation software the other Sundays. When scheduling, consider each individual’s strengths and weaknesses. If some are stronger on the software than they are on the sound board, give them more time on the computer. Just remember to schedule them for the sound board once a month. Every member of the team should know the basics of all aspects of the ministry. Do you have some volunteers that are more reliable than others? Schedule the more reliable team members more often. Do you have volunteers that are strong in all areas? Schedule the strong with the weak. If the weak mess up, the strong are there to mentor.
With my team, scheduling them six months at a time worked for me. About four months into the schedule, send a simple text or card letting them know how much you appreciate them. This is a great opportunity to let them know you’re also working on a new schedule. Ask if you can put them on the schedule for another period of time. (It doesn’t have to be six months.) Some will drop off the team. It’s ok. Everyone and everything has a season (Ecc. 3:1-8). Don’t take it personally if they leave. Thank them for their time and service, and keep the door open for them to return later. Keep them involved by asking if they know anyone in the church that would enjoy taking over the vacant spot in the team. It shows that you appreciate their help and leadership as you continue in this ministry.
3) Train Others to Train Others
What would it be like if your volunteers were training other volunteers? It happened to me, and it was a blessing. It’s not your job to carry the weight of the ministry on your shoulders. And I hope this doesn’t hurt your feelings, but the team doesn’t begin and end with you. Or at least it shouldn’t. Your job is to train others to train others. If you start with two volunteers on your team, great. Continue to give them every tool possible to be successful. When you feel they’re ready and know the ministry well, pull in two more new volunteers when a new schedule begins. Have your new volunteers sit beside your veteran team each Sunday. Let them train. Give them a good two or three months of mentoring and training before they’re on their own. Who knows? Maybe there will be a volunteer gifted in scheduling who could help you in that way! A media team will flourish when the volunteers begin to take responsibility for their own ministry.
4) Make Sure to Over-Communicate
I believe that many problems in the church stem from a lack of communication. At every opportunity, communicate, and then communicate again, and then again. I learned long ago not to assume anything about your volunteers. If you want the lights to dim at a certain time, tell them, and then tell them again. If you want your media team to show up 15 minutes early, explain to them why you need them there early during the initial training process. Write the time you want your volunteers to be there in red letters on every schedule you print out. After Sunday morning practice, have a quick five-minute meeting and walk through every single step of your service. I cannot stress the importance of over-communication. Go ahead and beat that dead horse.
1 Way to Destroy a Flourishing Media Team
Want to destroy your team? Discourage them.
Do you have a team member that is constantly late to practice?
Roll your eyes and give them the cold shoulder that morning.
Did one of your teenage volunteers miss a queue in the service? Make sure to point it out to everyone.
Never show your appreciation for your volunteers.
Constantly criticize their mistakes.
Never hug them, pat them on the back, or share a kind word with them after the service. Take advantage of them and over-work them, and you’re sure to squelch their spirit!
Unfortunately, many do.
If you follow one tip in this article, let it be this one. Encourage, encourage, encourage!
And if a volunteer is late to practice again? That discussion can wait. Wrap your arm around them and let me know you appreciate having them there that morning. A teenage volunteer continues to text when they should be changing sermon slides? Find something they did well in the service and let them hear about it.
In ministry, there will come a time to have a heart-to-heart talk with a constantly late volunteer or a habitual texter. There are also times to “fire” certain volunteers, or gently help them find a different ministry.
But guilt and discouragement rarely motivate others to improve.
Send them a text during the week. Buy your team a small gift at Christmas. Take the team out for lunch. Talk highly of your volunteers to others. You may just see amazing things happen if your volunteers are constantly hearing how much they’re appreciated.
Guide your team, and always remember to shower them with encouragement.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
We all need to remember that and do our best to encourage while seeking excellence!