Team Training Tips


There are really three challenges in church media; all centered around shortages.  For some it’s a shortage of time, for others a shortage of money and equipment, but the challenge that most often plagues a ministry of this type is a shortage of people.  More poeple don’t necessarily solve the problem.  While there are those who can immediately excel, the technical nature of media ministry insures that this is the exception, not the rule.  To solve this problem, you need to find the best strategies to train your people.

Class Mentor Training

There are two ways to teach people how to do a thing.  Under the tutelage of a qualified mentor, a person can learn by watching and doing.  This is a four-step process.  The student watches the mentor.  The student helps the mentor.  The mentor helps the student.  The mentor watches the student.  This process can take from a few minutes to several months.  While this can be very effective, a basic proficiency can really speed up the process.

Using classes to create that level of basic proficiency can speed students toward success.  Unless your people all have photographic memories, a class will not be the end of your training, but it can be a great beginning.  You can introduce concepts or create familiarity, but expertise takes experience.  Realizing the limitations, you can effectively design training to meet the needs of your people.

Visualize Visual Aids

When you create your class, do not forget some of the arguments for church media.  Don’t forget that information presented visually, as well as vocally, will be retained much longer.  If possible, use digital photos, video clips, and PowerPoint.  If you need to show your people the value of a tripod, use a simple video showing the difference between something shot handheld and the same shot from a tripod.  If you need to show parts of a complex device, use image-manipulation software to darken everything that isn’t to be noted.  I used this technique to show what buttons should be used on our switcher to accomplish a cut between cameras.

There is one note of caution, though.  Remember that the media isn’t the message; if people compliment the transitions or shooting technique, they’ve missed the message.

Food for thought

Some distractions happen on screen, some do not.  A rumbling stomach can easily cause a person to check-out during an important tip or trick.  Morning training sessions are much easier to deal with when you have a cup of coffee and a doughnut.  Snacks and meals need not be complex to be effective.  If your class takes place around lunchtime, order pizza or have sandwiches.  Food just makes meetings easier.

Make sure you don’t schedule things so tightly that your people are forced to eat and learn at the same time.  It’s difficult to eat and take notes at the same time.  It’s more difficult to answer questions with a full mouth.  Scheduling down time means your new people will have an opportunity to get to know each other and start the team formation process.

Unit unity

A training session can provide an unintended, but valuable opportunity for new people to be assimilated into an existing team.  People who spend time together, start to form teams without special efforts.  This is a start, but you can do more.

You can combine training and teambuilding simply.  Give your people tasks to do to further reinforce skills.  My first seminary media class used this technique very effectively.  Our assignment was to create a video “of a process”.  Filled with guys with skewed senses of humor, we decided to create a video that showed how to “Break the Ethos Statement”, our seminary’s code of ethics that prohibited drinking, smoking, and other vices.  Our team developed a bond that lasted long after the class ended.

Hand out handouts

Make sure that people leave with something to remind them of what they’ve learned.  This starts as soon as they arrive.  This means providing them with pens and paper.  That’s basic.  Take it to the next level by printing your PowerPoint slides as three slides per handout (with lines for notes).  If you put it in a nice report folder with a logo on the front, people will be more likely to keep the information to refer to later.

If your training includes some complex processes, why not include step-by-step instructions that people can refer to later.  This can also include checklists for set-up or tear-down.  I included a copy of my Sunday morning checklist which reminds me to drink my coffee before I check to see if my team is present (I don’t want to dream they’re there and they’re not).

Filming for the future

The great thing about video, is that it lasts longer than the event itself.  Take one of your more experienced people (or a camera person for a session on switching) and have them tape your class.  Since you won’t have 100% attendance, this will enable you to have training materials for either the people who couldn’t attend or aren’t yet involved in the ministry.

Edit the video, put it on DVD and you’ll have materials for the future.  Given enough time, you can have an entire training system that new people can check-out and take home to watch at their leisure.  If you do a good enough job, you might even be able to sell what you’ve made and help solve one of the shortage problem—money.

In the end, you’ll be well on the way to having a team that’s able to do whatever you need from the ministry.