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Leadership in Worship: The role of the media pastor

The media pastor position is becoming vital to many churches around the world. We can safely say that a majority of churches in the Christian faith, and many Houses of Worship (HOWs) in other faiths, desire to use communication technologies to enhance the worship and communication experience. But, as most of us know, pulling together the lights, sound and video gear that is needed to share the faith effectively during a worship service is no easy task. Furthermore, I believe that the most difficult task is organizing a media team that has the ability to use the equipment to create an ambience in the worship space that facilitates worship.

I am writing this because I receive many emails and telephone calls requesting help with training volunteers to use technology effectively. In many cases, these are large facilities that really should hire a media pastor as a paid staff position to oversee all aspects of the media production that occurs weekly inside a HOW. When I present this advice, I almost always am asked for a job description for a media pastor. In case you are asked to define the role of a media pastor or a person who can organize a media department, I offer you some field-proven suggestions that can help church leaders when choosing a media pastor. Here we go….

The role of the media pastor is at least three-fold. The media pastor must know:

  • How technology functions
  • How to organize paid staff and volunteers
  • How to train the staff and volunteers to use the communication technologies.

That is the overarching job description. But let’s break it down a bit further. There are four primary areas of knowledge that a media pastor must have in order to effectively lead a media team. He or she must understand lighting, sound, image magnification (IMAG) and people.

  • Production Lighting: Obviously, without lighting, the congregation will sit in the dark. Lighting is a valuable tool for creating ambience, moods and transitions during a worship service. Thus, a good media pastor must understand that lighting design, along with DMX and wiring, is vital for creating effective lighting in a worship space.
  • Sound: A good media pastor absolutely must know how to operate a soundboard. Most congregants (and I would say many church leaders) are not aware of how difficult audio production can be. Most people think audio work simply consists of switching a microphone on or off. We know this is not reality. In simple terms, a good media pastor will understand the complexity of signal flow and operating an audio system.
  • Image Magnification (IMAG): IMAG is one of the largest growth areas in HOWs today. Thus, a good media pastor has to understand the technical aspects of setting up a video projection system. Plus, he or she must understand graphics and how to create graphics that communicate messages (or information) clearly and in an aesthetically pleasing way.
  • People: Obviously, a media pastor won’t be able to operate all of these devices at the same time, and therefore will have to recruit additional people to help. Understanding and organizing people is by far the most important skillset required by any leader who works in a house of worship; there is no exception made for the media pastor.

Few HOWs can afford to hire paid production staff. Instead, they rely on faithful volunteers who give up their valuable time to be a member of the media team. These amazing people most likely have good hearts and are willing to give their time. However, they typically do not have much, if any, knowledge about using media technologies.

Recruiting volunteers requires a lot of time on the part of the media pastor. And once a team is built, the media pastor must train the volunteers to use the gear effectively. This, too, takes a lot of time.

I think you get the point: People skills are a necessary component to the success of a media team. This begins with having a media pastor who will develop, train and nurture the volunteers.

Obviously, this is the short list of the necessary skills needed. However, these four areas are the most vital. I believe that defining the role of a media pastor is important for us to understand. I believe that a HOW without a media pastor or director most likely will never use technologies appropriately to enhance worship. In contrast, I believe that an effective media pastor will enable a HOW to create a pleasing worship experience. That is what I believe. Please tell me what you believe.

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