I had a hard time thinking of article title that didn't sound like a Masters thesis topic, but I've been reminded this week of the importance of having uniform systems, procedures, and equipment in the worship setting, especially in multi-venue settings.
Several years ago, I was introduced to a man who would become a long-term client for us. He's still the tech director for a large church in the Columbus area, and at the time I was struck by his insistence that all of his systems for each of his venues be identical -- not just similar, but identical from an operational perspective. Of course, his loudspeakers were different in each venue, but he had 3 venues with Mackie 32.4VLZ mixers, DBX Driveracks, sets of Sony wireless microphones, Marantz recorders and players, storage systems, physical layout, etc.
What he shared was common sense. In the design phase, he had decided that the church's technical execution of a service couldn't hinge on just one person, so by standardizing, all of his volunteers were automatically cross-trained and could work successfully in any venue.
I marveled at the simplicity of his approach and the thought with which the systems were laid out. I know; some of you turned your nose up at his choice of mixer. He could have picked any mixer that would do the job. It wouldn't have mattered.
The main thrust of his thought process in design was that he valued the importance of successful technical execution, his time, and the time of his volunteers enough to make sure that the systems were never an obstacle to getting a predictably good end result, every time. And better end results keep your volunteers volunteering, and you not having to train as much.
Could he have selected a more complex mixer or equipment specific to each venue? Sure. But that would have required more paid professional staff (even part-time) and would also have limited opportunities for volunteers to successfully serve the church.
Earlier this week, I met with a large church in the upper Midwest. They flew me in to talk about adding off-site venues, to coordinate equipment between on-site venues and to evaluate systems, while talking through better ways to develop consistency across the spectrum of their worship experience. It was like I had gone back in time.
In just the past year, video streaming technology has made the addition of new worship venues a reality for many smaller churches, so since multi-site expansion isn't just for big churches anymore, the time and effort you spend in careful planning and design prior to purchase will be an investment you'll be glad you made.
If you'd like to discuss ways to make your technology for worship experience more consistent for any number of locations, please call us anytime.