5 Advanced Tips for Media Production Volunteers

Carl Barnhill

If you’ve lead volunteers for a while, you know some things that work and some things that don’t.

You know what your volunteers need to make Sunday happen. Here are a few Advanced Tips for serving Production Volunteers that I’ve learned the hard way.


Volunteers want to be well-informed and feel comfortable executing a Worship Service. In my experience, they actually do want honest, productive feedback. They want to know if they are executing things the right way or if they can improve on anything. It’s okay to evaluate your Worship Experience, whether you have a quick evaluation after your Run-Through, an Evaluation between services, during the week or all of the above.

Give your volunteers encouragement to know what they are doing well and what needs to be critiqued. Yes, they are volunteers – so be gracious and loving – as you would with anyone, but don’t be afraid to work with your team on things that could be executed better. Evaluate. Let them speak into your process and share their opinions – its your job to sift through the ideas and steer the ship where you want it to go

Suggested Tweet: "Give volunteers encouragement to know what they are doing well & what needs to be critiqued. @carlbarnhill"

Non-Stressful Environment Practices.

If you can, provide environments (not on a Sunday!!) that volunteers can practice. Whether it be camera, ProPresenter, audio, lights or another position – any time you can give your volunteers practice time on the gear or with live people on stage thats not on ‘game day’, do it.

Have choir or band rehearsal on Wednesday nights that your ProPresenter Operator for Sunday can come in and practice running lyrics with the actual songs?

Is there a time during the week that you could be available to let volunteers come practice on the gear by running audio snapshots, lighting cues on the board, practice on your video switcher?

Sundays are the worst day for extensive training, in my opinion.

If you’re a coach of a sports team, would you throw a player on the field without any practice before the game and expect them to play at a high level? That’s exactly what you’re doing if you throw your volunteer on a piece of gear on Sunday without allowing them practice to get comfortable with it during the week.

Willing Seasoned People to Help.

When I got to a place in my ministry where I was basically doing ‘nothing’, that we had teams of people training each other and taking care of all the logistics of our team, it freed me up entirely to do more ministry.
I know the myth – “but I won’t have a job”…
But the truth is, leaders don’t do anything.
Work really hard to train people to take over every single responsibility that’s on your plate.
And once you take on more responsibility, then give that away.
If you can get willing seasoned people to help you do every aspect of your ministry –
I mean everything – scheduling volunteers, training volunteers, leading volunteers, executing Sunday… you’re ministry will start to explode.
If you spend most of your time leading leaders, you’re ministry will be more effective.
Get willing seasoned people to help you.

Suggested Tweet: "Volunteers want to be well-informed and feel comfortable executing a Worship Service. @carlbarnhill"


Be consistent with the processes and systems you have in place.
Do you have position checklists, training guides or other material where everyone is being trained the same way? Or does it vary based on who trains them?
Try creating a Training manual so that training is an consistent as it can be across the board.
Be consistent with your evaluation.
Are you saying one thing one week, and something different another?
Do you change your mind frequently on what you think “looks” or “sounds” good in Worship Experiences?
If you a revolving door of opinion, your volunteers will struggle knowing what you are after. Be consistent in what you want to see each Sunday.
Be consistent with your encouragement.
Are you always criticizing or is your critique mixed with encouragement?
Do your team members know you are proud of them?
Do they know when they did something well?
Do they know when you’re pleased with how the service turned out?

Let Them Fail.

What? Let them fail?
Are you constantly in your control booth standing over people’s shoulders waiting for them to miss something?

Put your competent volunteers in place and walk away occasionally!

Go walk around the auditorium and see what the congregation is seeing.
Go outside the room and watch the Live Stream on your laptop or in your office for a few minutes.
Go sit with your family in worship for a few.

You may want to explain to your leaders beforehand what you’re doing – that you may not be in the booth every little second to give your volunteers some space to feel the weight of the Worship Service without you there.

Don’t let things completely fall apart, but loosen your grip on the rope little by little where you can completely let go of the rope from time to time.

This also allows you to take a Sunday off occasionally and not be paranoid that the church is bursting into flames while you’re gone. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about….

Suggested Tweet: "If you spend most of your time leading leaders, you’re ministry will be more effective. @carlbarnhill"

These advanced tips have been painful for me. It’s not been easy to learn that these are true.

I hope I can save you some heartache and time.

About Carl Barnhill

Owner, Church Visuals

Carl Barnhill is a creative entrepreneur, motion designer and author. He is the Owner Church Visuals, a company that helps Ministry Leaders visually communicate the Gospel. He is the host of the Your Visuals Matter Podcast. You can find him in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife, Katie and two sons, Jacob and Wesley.

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