In 2007 as a media team volunteer is when I realized the importance and fully understood the difference between having a “volunteer-friendly” and “volunteer-complicated” church production system. With our church at the time, we had a highly customized system and no documentation to support it. Talk about stress. I tried my best to overlook those things and just roll with the punches, but I remember each weekend I served how I felt as stepped in the tech booth, sat down and prepared myself for the uncomfortable journey I was getting ready to execute. The pain and agony other team members and I experienced with having a customized, finicky system that glitched on a regular basis and no supporting documentation for it was not an ideal situation at all.
After several years in the making, today at our church, whatever we do, we don’t sacrifice volunteer-friendliness. It’s right at the forefront. Why? Because we deeply care for our volunteers. The ability to walk into a church production ministry with little to no experience, receive minimal training and serve Jesus with your time, treasure and talent without the stress of a complicated system is a blessing without a doubt. The payoff is worth it.
Whatever side your currently on at your church, let me encourage you to keep striving to make volunteer-friendliness a priority. To determine the level of “volunteer-friendly” at your church, start by doing these 2 simple things:
Talk to your volunteers and get their feedback.
Ask them on a scale of 1-10 how volunteer-friendly they think the church production systems and processes are. 1 being not volunteer-friendly at all, 10 would be super volunteer-friendly. Also ask them if there is anything that is “making the job” harder or if they have any feedback on how to improve things.
Take the time to read through the equipment manuals and see what features or functionality can be implemented that would make the job easier.
I have seen many churches buy equipment and then limit themselves to using a small set of the available functionality the equipment offers. Branch out, try some new features.
Then after determining the level of volunteer-friendliness start trying to find ways to implement their feedback. Below are 2 ideas that I have implemented and you may find useful also:
1. Presets and Macros are king!…Use them!
A preset or macro is built in functionality in a piece of equipment that allows you to automatically execute a series of manual functions all at once. For example, you may have a manual process that you execute that takes you 4 steps. By programming a preset or macro to execute those 4 steps, that same process can be executed automatically in 1 step. Now, it does take some time investment and research in the equipment manuals to figure out exactly what the process is to program the preset or macro, but the volunteer-friendly payoff here is huge.
2. Write simple operational instructions.
Find someone at your church or on your team that can dive into those equipment manuals, extract the important info and break down the “geek-speak” into simple instructions. When I say simple instructions, that’s exactly what I mean. No more than 2-3 pages. Anything more than that is considered a book to most volunteers. That’s not the goal. Ideas for simple instructions that would be useful are; system startup/shutdown, basic functions of a camera, DVD recording process, etc. You would be amazed at how much this creates volunteer friendliness.
What “volunteer-friendly” things have you implemented in your church production systems that brought value to the volunteers and to the church production as a whole? Love to hear your ideas…