Run top-notch Sunday services when you keep your tech in check.
From audio to video to lighting, it’s all too easy for the production to override the worship. Musician and producer, Jon Steingard, shares advice for the tech crew.
“I remember being the overhead projector operator and being so pumped,” Jon Steingard says with a laugh. Jon is a pastor’s kid who grew up around church tech. You may know him as the frontman for the Christian band Hawk Nelson, but he has spent more recent years behind the camera. Through his production company, Steingard Creative, he has produced videos for Phil Wickham, Tenth Avenue North, and many more.
Jon has a wealth of practical knowledge; he learned video as he did guitar—by just doing it. Based on his experience on the stage and in the tech booth, he offers four pieces of advice for people who keep things running during the worship service.
Keeping Tech in Check
Have Less Going On
It’s easy for video content to distract people from worshiping on Sunday morning, so less is more.
“I’ve done a ton of video content for Phil Wickham, and we’ve had this conversation a bunch of times,” Jon says. “Phil is actually one of the main guys that kind of hammered this idea home for me. It just needs to be simpler.”
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Jon admits that this approach runs counter to most video production, but the goal is to direct people to the song and the lyrics. “In a worship service, if the video is engaging the whole way through, the audience is just going to stand there and watch the video.” In other words, they won’t really be worshiping.
“Try to drill down to the simplest version of the idea that you have and still make it beautiful. That’s the sweet spot,” Jon says. This often means fewer effects, simpler graphics, and more time showing singers and musicians.It’s easy for video content to distract people from worshiping on Sunday morning. Less is more when it comes to Sunday morning video content: fewer effects, simpler graphics, and more time showing singers and musicians. Click To Tweet
Show What’s Important
“One of the most basic rules is that people can only pay attention to three things at any given time,” Jon says.
Ultimately, you want people to engage with what is most important—so show that on the screen. If there’s a particular keyboard melody or guitar riff, make sure people are seeing the band member who’s playing it. The decisions made in the tech booth will actually help the congregation focus on the key elements of worship.
“What’s typical is you might have a lyric, and then there might be a space after that filled by a guitar line,” Jon explains. In that case, you’d want to show the singer and then bounce to the guitar player—and make sure to have the lyrics up at those important moments.
Know the Music
The worship team and tech crew have to be on the same page about the song order, as well as the arrangement of each song.
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“It’s critical for churches to loop in their video crew on set-list conversations,” Jon says, “especially the operator who’s switching the onscreen video feed. That person needs to know the music and be there for sound check and rehearsals.”
If you know the songs—and the important parts within each song— you’ll know what to feature on the screen at any given moment, Jon says. It’s boring to watch a musician onscreen who is not doing something.
Jon encourages churches to think of the tech team as an important part of the worship experience. “Sometimes it’s easy to think tech and worship are two totally separate worlds, but they’re not.”Churches should think of the tech team as an important part of the worship experience. They must know the music and be there for sound checks and rehearsals. Click To Tweet
Don’t Blind the Worship Leader
“It’s very easy for worship leaders and front men to feel disconnected from the crowd if all the lights are in their face and they can’t ever see the crowd,” Jon points out. Having been onstage since he was a teenager, Jon knows this challenge well. Especially when you’re leading worship, he says, it’s important to know whether you are connecting with the audience.
Again, the key is for the tech crew to become familiar with the music. When a worship leader is trying to engage with the congregation, he or she needs to be able to see their faces—which means dropping the lights down low, Jon says. “For any lighting director, have one cue [to lower the lights] that you can hit at any time.”
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This article has been adapted from an article originally featured in Ministry Team Magazine.