Awkward Moments (What Church Techs Do to Make Guests Feel Unwelcome)

Panic mode will scare your guests if they spot it. This and other snafus to overcome—and keep your visitors coming back.

It was so awkward. I wished I could have bolted for the exits. I’ve experienced rude people, offensive pastors, and insensitive childcare workers. Those all leave their own sour taste in your mouth. But this disaster involved the production team.

What can the production team do that would cause first-time guests to want to bolt for the nearest exit? Of course, blaringly bad sound or strobe light-induced seizures are obvious problems. But there are two less blatant things that production team members can do to produce anxiety and regret for guests at their church.

Because no church wants to drive guests away, I wrote a book called Unwelcome that offers solutions to some of the awkward moments we inflict upon first-time guests. Most deal with pastors, childcare workers, or greeters. But here are a couple of things for each production team member to consider.

Visible Stress

I was visiting a church, looking for a seat, when a streak of black bumped past me running toward the stage. It was the sound guy in obvious panic mode. Something was wrong. He was rushing to get it fixed before service began.

I’ve been there. I could relate to his trauma. But a fellow visitor was startled and a bit concerned. Was there a fire? Medical emergency? What was this person running to … or from? She had no idea what was going on. His stress became her stress. The rest of the service was tainted by her concern. It’s nearly impossible to avoid some tension if you’re involved in production. But it is possible to keep a calm demeanor—remembering your guests are often already under stress. They’re in a new place surrounded by strangers. No need to add more stress to the situation.

The production team should function like a duck. On the surface, he smoothly glides across the pond like he hasn’t a care in the world. But underneath, he paddles like crazy. You’ll help your visitors relax if you’ll operate more like a duck, and less like a quack.

Damaged Relationships

The crisis was resolved and the service moved along well. While the pastor was delivering his sermon, there was a little feedback. The pastor stopped, “Guys, can you fix that?”

It was an uncomfortable interruption and brought an awkward tension to the room. It happened a few more times. Each time the pastor grew more agitated. Finally, he erupted. “Guys! Get your act together. Fix it!”. I hoped the pastor would pray soon so I could head for the closest exit and never come back.

It’s true the pastor’s overreaction was immature. He made his minor irritation into a major problem for everyone in the room. But it was also obvious he and the tech team had been at odds for a while. This was a bigger problem than a tiny squeal in the sound system. Yes, the pastor should have taken steps to fix the relationship before it got to this level. But you can’t always rely on someone else to fix the problem. Pastors are flawed members of humanity just like you and me. Sometimes you may have to take the initiative. Meet with your pastor. Talk things out. Mend the relationship.

We can’t hide in the tech booth and think it’s someone else’s responsibility to create an environment where people can experience God’s love. We aren’t just button pushers. As part of the leadership team, it’s our responsibility to do what it takes to create a great experience for our guests. It’s a big responsibility, but it’s worth the effort.

This is a guest blogpost by JONATHAN MALM

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