When I was first appointed as the director of audio at a church, my first thought was to make the church services sound amazing and take care of all the problems that I heard every week before I was promoted to the new role. Excited to make my mark, I felt certain that the biggest impact I’d have on my church would be in the technical quality of the sound at Sunday services, concerts, and special events. I thought I am going to revolutionize the sound at this church. What I soon realized is that being the audio director at a church was more about leadership, setting good examples, and communication. In this article, I’ll share three ways to lead well as an audio director.
#1 – Focus on Leading Your Team as a Church Audio Director
During the initial weeks as the newly appointed audio director, a kid, probably 13 years old, came up to me and tapped me on the shoulder and pronounced, “You must be important! Tell me what you do.” I told him I mixed the audio for everyone who hears it.
He said, “when I grow up, I want to be like you.” It was in that moment that I realized my job really was not the role of “fixing” or “mixing” the sound, my role was to be a leader, an example. My focus should be on leading a team of people. Sure, my job was in the audio area of the church, but my real priority needed to be focused on the lives of those who worked with me and how they could further grow in their walk with Christ. Similar to a coach, I was there to challenge them, push them to the next level and encourage them when they fall down.
As I began communicating with my audio team, I realized there were many moving parts, and being good with people and communication was perhaps more important than my technical skills. I realized I needed to shepherd my volunteers and staff so that we were all on the same page with our ministry objectives. I also needed to be invested in them personally and be available when they had personal issues as well as professional training and growth needs.
What is the job description for a church audio engineer?
A church audio engineer is responsible for the technical aspects of sound reinforcement and recording in a church setting. This includes setting up and maintaining the sound system, mixing sound for live events, recording services, and troubleshooting any technical issues that arise. The audio engineer must work closely with the worship team and the pastor to ensure that the sound quality is optimal and that the message is clearly communicated to the congregation. Additionally, the audio engineer may be responsible for training and supervising volunteers who assist with sound engineering during services.
To be successful in this role, a church audio engineer must have a strong understanding of sound equipment and be able to operate and troubleshoot a variety of audio equipment, including microphones, speakers, mixing boards, and recording equipment. They must also have excellent communication skills to work effectively with the worship team and the pastor. Attention to detail is also critical, as the audio engineer must ensure that sound levels are balanced and consistent throughout the service. Finally, a church audio engineer must have a passion for serving in a ministry setting and be committed to supporting the church’s mission and values.
#2 – Focus on Your Heart for Worship as a Church Audio Director
I firmly believe that everyone and everything was created to worship God. Psalm 66:4 ESV “All the earth worships You and sings praises to You; they sing praises to Your name.” Notice it says ALL the earth. Everything was created to worship God. Audio consoles and gear included.
These are instruments of worship, similar to guitars or keyboards. They should be used and applied in a manner that worships God. This means it should be our goal to steadily steer people to focus their entire lives toward worshiping God. What you do in your personal life counts. It makes a difference in how you act and interact with others around you. As I grew in my role, I began to integrate my sincere heart for worship into my work in the booth. When I aligned my heart with my mind, good things began to happen.
Having a heart for worship changed how I mixed and affected others in the process. My work became less of a technical production and more of a heart-based ministry production aimed at enhancing the message of the ministry.
For example, if you are mixing front of house and someone else is mixing monitors, how you treat your monitor engineer will affect the overall sound. It just will. If something is going on in the personal lives of you or your team, it will change your mix. If a worship leader is conducting his personal life in a sinful manner, we would all agree that this changes how he leads worship. I would argue that each person on the technical teams is a worship leader. We are also worship instruments. How we conduct our lives outside of church affects the audio mix, setup, etc.
#3 – Be Accountable and Hold Others Accountable as a Church Audio Director
As audio directors, how do we hold our teams accountable in their personal and work lives? I highly recommend having one on one personal and face-to-face meetings with each team member on a weekly basis. Ask tough questions and be prepared for tough answers. Make sure they are doing the same with their team members. Knowing what’s going on in the lives of your team will make you a better leader. As your team reports and respects you as their leader, offer the same report and respect to your senior pastor. Connect with them on a regular basis and allow them to speak into the vision for the ministry of the church.
How do you become an audio director?
To become an audio director, there are a few recommended steps to take:
Gain experience in audio technology: Start by learning the basics of audio engineering and technology through online tutorials, workshops, or classes at a technical school or college. This will help you understand the technical aspects of audio and develop the skills needed to operate and troubleshoot audio equipment.
Work as an audio technician or assistant: Gain experience in the field by working as an audio technician or assistant for a church, recording studio, or other organization. This will allow you to gain hands-on experience in managing sound systems and working with other audio equipment.
Network with professionals: Attend conferences, trade shows, or events to connect with other audio professionals and gain insights into industry trends and best practices.
Develop leadership and communication skills: Audio directors must have strong leadership and communication skills to manage teams of technicians and work effectively with church leaders, worship teams, and other professionals.
Pursue education or certification: Consider pursuing formal education in audio engineering or certification from a professional organization like the Audio Engineering Society (AES) or the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE). This can help you demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in the field and may lead to additional career opportunities.
Overall, becoming an audio director requires a combination of technical skills, practical experience, and strong leadership and communication abilities. By gaining experience and education in these areas, you can develop the skills needed to excel in this role.
The Bottom Line
Notice that this article didn’t include lots of technical details. While gear, organizational charts, mixing competency, and technical knowledge all play into this role, and I’m not saying we should ignore them or that those things don’t matter. We should work hard in those areas.
Bringing everyone up a notch in technical proficiency is an important part of this role, but building leaders and a team around you is more important. If you are the only person on the team, how you mix for that service may not matter if you can’t cover all the bases. You need a team of people or you will burn out.
The Bible says, “Come to me (Jesus), all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me (Jesus), for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30 NIV) Notice that it says to “learn from me (Jesus)”. People are attracted to passionate leaders who want to build a team of technicians that love Jesus, are learning from Jesus, progressing biblically in their craft and want the best for the church.
Why Attend WAVE? (What makes us different)
The WAVE conference focuses on audiovisual and lighting first and is a traditional conference and expo with the best church AVL exhibitors and vendors in the industry. At WAVE, you and your tech team will have the time to talk with exhibitors because our expo floor is less crowded and better organized than other AVL conferences. WAVE offers the opportunity to see what others are doing and even boasts and church tour local to the conference. Experience roundtable discussions during meals and after sessions. Visit the biggest manufacturers in your area. Maximize your team’s time for education, training on equipment, and industry connection and collaboration. Lastly, WAVE offers incredible value for the education, exhibit access, networking, worship, and amenities for the price of the ticket. Lastly, we at WAVE want to see your church grow, help others find God, and feel personal satisfaction with their jobs by being educated and connecting within the AVL church tech industry. Register for WAVE today!