3 Steps for Building an Audio Team

Here are three steps that should help you get your head around building a successful and strong audio team at your church. We will Pray First, then we will Define Serve Areas, finally we will Adopt or Develop a Training Process.
The following thoughts were developed as part of a Highland College Curriculum by the Church of the Highlands audio team. We hope it will prove to be a helpful resource for your church.

Hopefully by now you are beginning to realize that we are more successful working as a team. As a team, we can accomplish more together than any one of us can apart. Well, this is only part of the equation. As we welcome, train and empower someone for service, we are indeed following the plan God has laid out for His those he has called. Ephesians 4:11-12 New King James Version (NKJV) 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

Pray First

Pray for the team members you need
God knows what your team needs and wants to provide it for you. In many cases, He wants to take YOU on a journey of deeper trust and dependence on Him. (You have not, because you ask not)
Pray that God sends you the team members who need what you and the team can provide for them, not what they have to offer the team.
Realize that everyone who serves with you, may not be there for a lifetime, they may only serve for a season.
It is your job to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as you pray about each person who comes your way. They may not look like what you thought you needed. You may be what they needed!
Focus on the fact that your team members need a place to serve
When chatting with potential team members, be sure they know you are interesting in helping them fulfill their God created purpose, not simply trying to fill your need for a new team member.
I frequently say, “it is not my job to get you behind one of our audio console, it is my job to help you find the purpose God created you for”.
This then opens the door for me to communicate that God always equips someone for their purpose.
If they have the required/expected toolset, then they know I am looking out for their best interest in serving on our team. As you meet with someone whom you believe is a proper fit, prayerfully ask them, “what do YOU want to do?” You may find a hidden gift or God planted desire for an aspect of the team you have not even thought of. Empower and then equip them to accomplish something that may not be a passion of yours. Pastor Chris Hodges says of Highlands, “I am not looking for people to fulfil MY vision. It is MY job to help them accomplish THEIR vision and purpose.”
If they do not possess the necessary gifts and tools, then I can gently move them toward another serve team. This may be as simple as asking, “what other area might you be interested in serving?”. It may however require some legwork on your part. I remember an instance where I talked with an individual that really did not have the capacity to serve on our audio team. I scheduled a meeting with another team leader to see if this person would be a good fit on their team. Through my meeting with this team leader, it was determined that this person was actually already successfully serving on this team. This team leader and I then scheduled a meeting with the person to discuss their serve opportunities. There will be times when that uncomfortable conversation must be had. When bathed in compassion and prayer, I must say that the results are almost always very positive for everyone involved.

Define Areas to Serve

If you are building a team from the ground up, might I suggest you give prayerful consideration to the different areas your team needs to be effective. If you are stepping into a new position where a team already exists, begin by asking leadership to give you some insight into the team’s dynamics. If there is solid workable structure in place, work with leadership to evaluate the current state of the team based on ministry goals. At this point it may be a good idea to begin having one-on-one meetings with each of your team members to get their take on the current state of the team. Their perspective is very important. Remember that perspective can be stronger than reality. You may find that there are perceptions and/or realities that need to be evaluated and possibly adjusted. This conversation could be a good place to ask one of the most important questions you may ever ask a team member or perspective team member, “What do YOU want to do?” Knowing of a burning passion in someone, allows you to begin equipping and resourcing them to accomplish their God give purpose. It is only within this God-planted purpose that someone will ever find absolute fulfillment. Remember, it is our responsibility to equip the saints for acts of service, Ephesians 4:12.

Now you should be equipped with some great information. I believe you can now begin to prayerfully consider developing a plan. Areas to consider should include:

Positional serve opportunities
Audio set-up team
Load in and set up audio equipment at portable campuses
Strike and load out audio equipment at portable campuses
A3 position
A serve position to support your A1 and A2 positions
Change batteries in wireless microphones
Manage recording of services
Straighten stage before and between services
Extra set of eyes focused on the stage teams
Run errands and messages between stage and FOH
A2 position
A serve position to assist A1 (same duties as A3) while in training to facilitate audio events.
If possessing an adequate skill set and experience, this individual may begin a training process to become an A1
Following proper training, this individual may manage certain events which do not require the expertise to manage a full band such as:
“Talking head” events (presenter & pre-service music)
GROWTH Track
Family events (as listed below)
Children’s services
Certain community events (as listed below)
With advanced training this individual may begin “pushing faders” for services as they gain skill and confidence to manage entire service flow situations
This position may be developed into the status of A1
A1 position
This position carries much greater responsibility. This individual is responsible for helping to create and maintain a distraction free environment that is conducive for the congregation to experience the presence of God.
Mixes for main services and events which require a professional level of mixing skills and attention to detail while being sensitive to the presence of the Holy Spirit.
In some instances, given a higher level of expertise and possessing the confidence of leadership, this individual may play a leadership role within the team
Audio connect leader
This position would be held by a person gifted with people skills, this individual may or may not serve in any of the afore mentioned positions
This individual would be responsible for managing one-on-one interviews following your growth track entry process
This individual would facilitate team orientation
This person might track and report the progress of all levels of training
This person would be the connect or contact person for any team member requiring a point of contact; whether it be personal, spiritual or logistics based. This leader should be equipped with adequate information as to whom to refer an individual which requires care beyond their scope of experience or training.
This person along with all team members would always be recruiting and connecting with potential team members
Audio scheduler
This position could be a person at almost any stage of the audio training process as well as someone who has no interest in mixing or serving in an active audio position. This person may simply want to serve with the team.
This person would be responsible for managing the scheduling of all audio positions for any services or events and communicating these schedules to team leader(s)
This a great position to help monitor the health of the team and communicate any concerns to the audio connect leader. These concerns may be for someone who has faithfully served for some time and then begins to decline invitations to serve.
Audio Director
This person is responsible for managing the team and is the connect person between the audio team and other ministry teams. This individual should receive notifications for all events and event requirements and subsequently pass this information along to the appropriate team member(s) for implementation or facilitation.
This person may or may not fill any of the afore mentioned audio positions.
This person would likely facilitate team meetings as well as be involved with decisions pertaining to the overall direction and management of the team.

Weekly serve opportunities
Audio set-up (portable campus)
Sunday services
Midweek services
Worship rehearsals
Growth Track events
Children’s services
Overflow area(s)
Re-occurring “event based” serve opportunities
Annual conferences
Monthly worship celebrations
All staff meetings
Monthly or quarterly Worship Team graduations/celebrations
Special event opportunities
Christmas & Easter
Stage set for special services
Extra serve positions for event
Stage manager
Stage hands
Monitor mix engineer
Overflow audio engineer
Stage strike and reset following event
Special series
Church family serve opportunities
Weddings
Funerals
Baptisms
Baby dedications
One-and-out serves
Non re-occurring special events
Community events
Local High School graduation
Local school play or event
Town Hall meetings
Election day – voting
Outreach events
Special community SERVE Days
Prayer walk
Adopt a training process

You should be very intentional in determining how you will train and develop your team. I am certain there are many proven methods available to train and develop a team. Might I assume that many of you may have chosen to come to attend Highlands College, a GROW or ARC event at least partly due to the success, influence and culture of excellence here at Church of the Highlands. Based on this assumption, we will focus most of our attention on what we do here. This is not to downplay the success and/or effectiveness of other churches or programs. Based on this premise, we will focus on the Highlands Worship Audio INFUSE model. Walking though this process should either give you a solid model to work from or at least help you with a thought process to choose or even develop your own process.

At Church of the Highlands, we utilize a process we call Audio INFUSE. First let’s walk through what our orientation process looks like. We have created a four week rotation for orientation. Regardless of the desired area within the audio team, this process launches each participant into their training process.

Week 1

In week one, we discuss the Core Values of Highlands Worship which are subsequently those of Highlands Audio. We also discuss some of the basic logistics of what we do as audio team members.

Week 2

Week two, we discuss what service flow looks like for an average Highlands Sunday service. This discussion is centered around a video file which has been edited to concentrate on all of transitions within the service. The facilitator has an outline which accompanies the edited video describing what each transition looks like. This discussion centers not only around what is heard, but the thought process around the actions necessary for accomplishing the desired result. The facilitator will play a portion of the video, stop and discuss what happened in the clip, then play the clip again. The take-away is many times, “Wow, I didn’t know all of that was going on!”

Week 3

In our third week, we dig a bit deeper into the TECH, by discussing the Avid Venue console. In this discussion, through the use of a Power Point presentation or video demonstration, the facilitator walks through most of the menus, screens, buttons, knobs and functions of the console. Participants are not expected to walk away from this class with a full understanding of a Venue console, simply a glimpse of the control tool we use at most of our campuses.

Week 4

During our final week of orientation, we provide a guided tour of our facility. This tour is designed to help each participant gain a basic understanding of room locations and system infrastructure in each room equipped with a sound system. This tour focuses on:
How and where to power each system on and off
Location and basic functions of playback and record devices
Computer login info where applicable
Where stage and off stage connections occur
A general overview of the Personal In-Ear Monitor systems (Aviom)
A general knowledge of where behind the scenes Infrastructure is located
Wireless microphone receivers
Wireless IEM transmitters
Aviom distributers and cable patching (where applicable)
Spare cables, direct boxes, microphones etc.
Batteries for mics and IEM packs

Following the 4 weeks of orientation, participants or scheduled with the appropriate trainer or developer for their “next steps”.
A3 Training is lead either by an A2 or in some instances by a campus A1. This training is facilitated in an on the job setting during services and/or rehearsals. Training includes:
How and when to change batteries in microphones and IEM packs
How to properly police the stage before and between services
How to leave the system and stage in an appropriate state following the final service
How to properly communicate with leadership and worship team members
How to operate all playback and recording devices
What playlist to use and when to record
How to upload recorded files to the campus Drop Box
What to watch for in order to help in creating and maintaining a distraction free worship environment
Know how the A1 likes his coffee
A2 INFUSE is a “next steps” process which starts out with a 10 week training process. The goal is to take an A3 who has successfully mastered all A3 responsibilities on a journey to becoming an active A2. An A2 will be trained and and capable of facilitating an overflow room, baptism service, Saturday morning prayer service (without a band) and all Growth Track events.
This process includes:
Attend 2 Sunday services in the main auditorium as a scheduled A3 to become familiar with service flow, requirements and procedures
Attend all 4 weeks of the growth track as a scheduled A3, to learn how to operate the service
Attend 2 Saturday prayer services as a scheduled A3 to learn how to operate the service
Attend a Baptism service as a scheduled A3 to learn how to operate the service
Attend 2 Sunday PM or 1st Wednesday services in an overflow room as a scheduled A3 to learn to facilitate an overflow environment
After having demonstrating the core values of Highland Worship and that they can satisfactorily facilitate each of the aforementioned duties, their process will culminate with the participant graduation the Audio INFUSE process during a Highland Worship INFUSE Worship Night.

A1/Mix Engineer training is by an Invitation only process. Individuals who have completed all requirements and have served faithfully as an active A2, may be evaluated by the audio team and asked to begin training as an A1 mix engineer. This process includes the following:
There are three parts to the A1 Training process; Audio Infuse Orientation, Console Training, and the Virtual Sound Check Experience.
As noted earlier, orientation is a 4 week process. In most cases, the participant will have already completed this portion of the process. In special cases (a highly experienced A1 who is familiar with our consoles) may be fast-tracked through the process.

There are 4 weeks of Console Training
Week 5: A1 applicants attend Class 1 of Console Training
Input Section
Head end (gain section)
Assignment and routing
Sends and Encoders
Equalization

Week 6: A1 applicants attend Class 2 of Console Training
Dynamics
Compression/Limiting
Expander/Gates
Side Chain
Plug-ins

Week 7: A1 applicants attend Class 3 of Console Training
Outputs
Aviom Implementation (routing/patching)
Filing
Snapshots
Patch Bay

Week 8: Attend Worship or Community Night
There are 8 weeks of the Virtual Sound Check Experience
Week 9: A1 applicants attend Class 1 of Virtual Sound Check Experience
Introduction to Virtual Sound Check
Concepts and applications
ProTools functions overview
ProTools timeline
Using markers and snapshots in ProTools

Week 10: A1 applicants attend Class 2 of Virtual Sound Check Experience
Virtual Sound Check Session (Building a mix)
Virtual Sound Check Session (Improving a mix)

Week 11: Schedule individual A1 to mix VSC (complete service flow)

Week 12: Attend Worship or Community Night

Week 13: Schedule individual A1 to mix VSC (complete service flow)

Week 14: Schedule individual A1 to mix VSC (complete service flow)

Week 15: Schedule individual A1 to mix VSC (complete service flow)

Week 16: A1 applicant to mix for monthly HWorship Worship Night
The Audio Setup Team is a serve position within the Highlands Worship Audio Team. The purpose of this team is to assist with audio equipment setup (load-in) and equipment strike (load-out) for Highlands services at portable campuses. This team will be established by a campus Audio Connect Leader. Ideally, this Audio Connect Leader will be identified by leadership well prior to campus launch date. This leader will recruit and build a team and begin identifying and training Setup Team Leader(s).

Once an individual completes Growth Track (specifically Step 4) and 4 weeks of Audio INFUSE orientation they may begin serving on the set-up team.
As an Audio Setup Team member each individual will meet at the portable campus on Sunday mornings (at a time to be announced) for setup. This call time is normally 2 hours prior to the first service in order to allow time for the Worship Team to sound check for the day.
The team will huddle at the assigned time with the Team Leader. There will be a brief word of encouragement and prayer before the leader gives instructions for the day.
The team will set the stage based on the plan set forth by the team leader.
Once the main stage is set, other areas requiring audio support (lobby, Highlands Kids rooms, etc.) may require assistance from the team.
Following competition of the morning’s assignments, each team member is encouraged to attend at least one service.
Fifteen minutes prior to the final service of the day, assigned team members are to gather (at a pre-determined location) for stage strike (load-out) instructions.
At the close of the service, the team leader will give the go-ahead to begin the load-out process.
The Team Leader will connect with team members each week with words of encouragement and send out a weekly recap e-mail. The Team Leader will also request the honor of agreeing in prayer with each individual member. The Team Leader will find himself Pastoring their team.
The Team Leader will communicate weekly with the Central Audio Team (Grants Mill) of any problems or concerns, equipment or repair needs and/or any specific prayer needs. This communication will be through the team’s e-mail account.

An Audio Setup Team member who is interested in growing within the team may request to become an A3. The only additional requirements for becoming an A3 is to be scheduled for two service serve times along side an A1 or A2. Additionally, this individual may continue to their next step by requesting to begin the Audio Infuse process to A2.

Please understand that the church where you serve may have different equipment and/or technology which may limit or alter some of these steps and processes. Again the purpose of this class is to help you think through a process. In most cases, you will find the need to create your own process. Hopefully this information will help you through the process.

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