How to take over your churches AV department? And no I don't mean via Coup D'Etat. What I'm talking about is, what do you do when you are replacing someone when they are at the end of their time as leader of the AV ministry.
While this article is not a 100% guide for this is, it's designed to give you a few ideas to help you during the transition. I've also not included details in regards to how the topic relates to the lighting department because I've never been at a church with a lighting rig.
The Technical Side
If you're already part of the AV team, then you've already got a head start as you are familiar with the systems on a surface level. But regardless of your familiarity, you probably don't know how it's all put together and more importantly you probably don't know why it's configured the way it is.
Thus is a good idea to contact whoever designed it, and put together and maintained the audio and visual systems. When you get in contact with these people get them to give you a run down on how the system is put together and any problems / issues / nuances has or has had in the past.
It's important you have a detailed understanding of the AV system because without this knowledge you may end up digging yourself into a hole when you try to modify or add to the sound or visual systems.
Without a detailed knowledge of the systems you'll also more than likely come across something put together in a way that doesn't make much sense until you hear the logical reasons for it. For instance, in my church's AVsystems has the following things put together in an odd way:
- ground switches are set to lift on several pieces of equipment to prevent ground loop issues
- I also have a fewstealthily hidden ground lift cables that don't work on unbalanced equipment or with phantom power. These cables provide a ground lift to equipment that has no dedicated ground lift switch.
- 3 of our DI boxes that I built from scratch have an on/off ground switch where the on positionmeansthe ground connection is connected and the ground and off position disconnects the ground.Two of these DI only accept line level signal in where as a normal DI accepts Line and instrument level inputs. All three also don't require phantom power but the other two store bought DI's we have do.
- The FOH amp is 350Watts but the FOH speakers peek a 300Watts. The FOH speakers were built from scratch and the peak rating is not documented or written on the speakers. Because the amp can put out more power than the speakers peak rating turning the amp up all the way can damage or blow out the speakers.
Easy to say that if you didn't know these things it would be fairly easy to dig yourself into a pit when modifying or maintaining my churches sound system.
After learning how and why the system is put together take the time to completely pull part the system and put it back together. This will give you an in-depth understanding of how the entire system is put together. It will also allow you to redo all the cable management, do some spring cleaning and make any appropriate modifications to the system.
While you're doing this is also a good idea to test all your cable with a cable tester and to throw out or repair any broken cable. If you feel up to it, you may also want to blow the dust out of any amps and computers.
The Stakeholder Side
What's important as an AV leader is that you're providing an environment where the people in the AV team are well equipped to do their job. When they do a good job the musicians and speakers (people speaking) also feel comfortable and can do a good job to.
Takes some time to review the workflows for both the sound and projection departments and fix any issuesand/or update them to provide a better working environment and experience for you worship teams and speakers. When you make changes to the workflow be sure re-train the AV team to use the new workflow.
You also want to continue provide opportunities for the members of the AV team to learn and extend their knowledge so that there is someone to eventually replace you when your time comes to an end as the leader.
So it's a good idea to spend some time with the rest of your AV team and work out their strengths, weaknesses sort out any technical related issues they have been having. This will allow you to see where everyone is at and provide them with any assistance they need in order to do the best they can as part of the AV team.
It's also a good idea to talk to your pastoral leaders once again asking them if they have been having any problems or if there is anything you might be able to do to make them more comfortable on stage.
You should also spend some time talking to the worship leaders and other musicians and get to know them.
Believe me the better terms your on with them the easier your job will be. Ask the worship leaders if they have been having any problems or if there is anything about the stage that is making them or their team uncomfortable.
Ignore anything that is unreasonable (things you can't do much about due to cost or technology limitations) and look into fixing things that are reasonable.
Zach Radloff lives on the Gold Coast and is studying IT and Multimedia at university, and is also a qualified Live Production, Theatre and Events Technician.
Zach Radloff's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/zach-radloff.html