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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Losey

Creating a Successful Christian Church Production Team | How-to #11

Updated: May 2, 2023



Assessing your Situation

The first step any leader should take before creating a team is to assess the situation. It is no different for creating a successful volunteer-based production team. It starts with understanding your church's vision and mission for the team, identifying the current state of the team's resources, strengths, and weaknesses, and determining the level of engagement and support from church leadership.

When identifying your church's vision and mission for the church as a whole, you need to keep in mind that you shouldn’t try figure out what your production needs first. It will eventually lead to having a clear understanding of what your church wants to achieve, but not yet. Does your church want to reach out to new Christians, develop a ministry around the homeless society, create an engaging online community, or focus on growth for existing members? Once you understand your church's goals, which hopefully is a direct application of the biblical gospel, you can develop a plan to achieve them through your production efforts.

Next, you must identify the current state of the team's resources, strengths, and weaknesses. Start this by evaluating your team's equipment, volunteers, and skill sets. Do you have the necessary equipment and volunteers to produce quality content in the area you are trying to reach? Are your volunteers skilled enough to actually use the equipment as it was intended and sustain a production that aligns with your church's vision? By identifying your team's strengths and weaknesses, you can later develop strategies to address these identified gaps and ensure that your team has the necessary resources to succeed.

Finally, determine the level of engagement and support from your church leadership. This involves understanding whether your church leadership is supportive of the production team's efforts and willing to provide necessary resources and support. If your church leadership is not supportive, it may be difficult to secure the essential monetary resources and support to achieve your church’s goals. This is often overlooked entirely or is ignored because you fear the possibly negative response from leadership. Regardless of the outcome, it is imperative to remember that your church's production team is there to support the mission of the church, not the other way around. It would be foolish to align the church's vision with how you prefer to execute the production.

Determining Production Needs and Defining Success

Whether it’s overseeing a live production or producing post-production videos, you need to know where your production is headed. Use the church’s mission and vision to figure out what needs your production team’s attention. If you are focused on producing the service sermon files but you only get one hundred views, when your weekend attendance is ten times that, you might need to consider reorienting your focus. At the very least, you should work to develop a sustainable solution for generating and uploading that content that doesn’t become a time suck for you. At most, you might need to consider how to improve the experience for the end user/audience to improve online engagement and interest.

If your primary ministry is homelessness in your city, you might want to scrap the post-production of your services altogether, and instead focus on documenting those experiences. You can have your production team and volunteers generate content that encourages others in your Christian community to take part in, partner monetarily, or whatever else your mission might require. Doing whatever is asked of you for the sake of doing what is asked will only get you so far. Eventually, you may have to have some tough conversations with leadership to assist you in coming up with a plan that supports the mission.

It is the mission that defines success. I sort of passively insinuated that it should be centered on a biblical gospel. I want to move from passive insinuation to direct addressing. Gospel centered ministry is exactly what should take place but facets around how you share the gospel can change depending on your church’s attendance as well. If you have primarily an older congregation in a retirement community, a gospel-centered mission will look entirely different to an inner city church who are pastoring those with issues more relevant to urban environments. It would be simply unreasonable to assume that the “church experience” would look the same in both demographics. Develop a sustainable production environment that is conducive to reach both environments separately.

For example, in a retirement community, there might be a greater emphasis on making the service available from home because of sickness or transportation issues. In the inner city church, you may focus on having smaller videos meant to train leaders in small group environments. There may be little to no video production needs for weekend services. Success in that case would mean equipping leaders to lead effectively, not necessarily great video quality for the masses. I’m just mentioning some off-the-cuff ideas but you get the point.

Volunteer and Equipment Utilization

In order to improve volunteer and equipment utilization, it is essential to determine the current volunteer and equipment restrictions. This can help identify any areas where there may be gaps in skills or equipment, which can be addressed through training or investment in new, more appropriate resources.

One way to empower volunteers is to match equipment restrictions by providing them with training and support. Watch your team work with equipment from a distance and observe how it’s used. I have found that their use without your oversight is best when learning to be more effective. Your team may be using equipment incorrectly or skipping over several unnecessary steps that you once thought essential. Use this knowledge from regular conversation, feedback, and passive observation to better equip your team by adjusting and adapting.

You may find that your team requires some training, and ongoing support to help build their skills and confidence. A popular way to do this among churches is to hire a temporary trainer or speaker that your whole team can attend and engage with. While it might be more cost-effective to sign your team up for an online course, it may be more helpful to facilitate the back-and-forth format of regular Q&A with a professional. By providing volunteers with the resources they need to succeed, it is more likely that they will be engaged and motivated to contribute to the church’s success.

In addition, it is important to foster a sense of community and teamwork among the production team volunteers. This can include regular meetings or social events, as well as recognition and appreciation for the volunteers' contributions. By building a culture of encouragement and constructive feedback among the team members, it is more likely that they will be engaged and motivated to contribute to the success of the church. This can be paired with a regular team training night, lunches after services, or maybe even breakfast after run-through and before services.

Developing a Plan for Improvement and Growth

Once you have assessed your church’s goals, determined production needs, and volunteer engagement and equipment, it's time to identify areas for improvement. This will help you develop a plan that will bring the team closer to achieving the church’s goals.

When analyzing the team's current state, it's essential to take a step back and review the big picture. Look at the team's performance over the past few weeks or months and identify areas that require improvement. Are there any technical issues that need to be addressed? Is there room for improvement in the quality of content being produced? Are there any volunteer training needs that need to be met? Once you have identified areas for improvement, you can start developing a plan to address them.

Your plan for improvement may or may not involve a monetary investment in new equipment. While investing in new equipment may seem like an attractive and obvious solution, it's necessary to evaluate whether or not it's the most practical solution. For instance, is investing in new equipment going to be beneficial in the long run? Or is it only a temporary fix that will not address the root cause of the problem? Or will your leadership even allow you to invest in new equipment? That’s why right up front, I suggested having those difficult discussions early. It will set you up for appropriate expectations within your sphere of influence.

Create a system for regularly measuring the success of the team's efforts and making further improvements over time. Generate a safe environment for feedback in both directions—from you to your team but more importantly, from your team to you. It's essential to evaluate the team's progress to ensure that they are on track toward achieving the church’s mission and vision. Regularly evaluate the quality of content produced, measure engagement, and take part in regular conversations of feedback and encouragement.

Conclusion (TLDR)

  • Assess your situation

  • Determine the production needs

  • Find out what your church defines as success

  • Discover what current equipment restrictions might be

  • Find out what the current volunteer restrictions are

  • Develop a plan for improvement that may or may not involve an investment in new equipment.

Being a part of a church production team is not always easy. It is sometimes thankless, it is time-consuming, and troubleshooting gremlins is difficult. But when you are part of a team that contributes to a culture of encouragement, evaluation, and improvement, doing these hard things then becomes thankful. Once you have reviewed these few steps, you can ensure your production team is on the trajectory to helping your church meet the gospel-centered mission God allowed you to be a part of.

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