TEAMS is a monthly series that celebrates the talent and impact of those who serve at Hoboken Grace.
It’s a Sunday morning, and the band starts out slow. Lyrics are centered on the screen. The stage is bathed in blue. And if you’re paying close attention, you’ll notice the lights subtly fade to orange-red as the music intensifies.
But you likely didn’t notice, or pause to process it. In fact, the people in the production booth would rather you didn’t, because that means they’re doing their job well. They would prefer that you were too into the worship music, too busy melting into the moment, to pick up on the shift.
“What I enjoy most is running sound when we’re at the peak of our worship set, just looking around and seeing everybody fully into it, their hands in the air, and not thinking about what things look like, what things sound like,” says Jeff, who serves on the production branch of the Worship Team. “They’re not noticing that. They’re just full-on worshiping.”
In addition to using sound and lighting to create an environment that is both intimate and inviting, those serving in the production booth also control what projects on screen, ensuring lyrics, scripture and video appear on time and in the right order. They edit and post podcasts, maintain much of the equipment and troubleshoot on the fly when the unexpected happens. And they work throughout the week, preparing as much as possible for Sunday morning.
That subtle light transition, in fact, was likely planned days in advance, crafted to enhance the ambiance and fit the band’s goals for that set. The Worship Team usually knows which songs are planned at least a week ahead of time, then rehearses on Wednesday nights. It’s there that the people responsible for the lights and computers that Sunday settle on what color, what mood, fits a song best. Then they put together a rough layout of the lights and slide backgrounds.
“If it’s a little bit quiet of a song in the beginning, we’ll make it a little bit dark,” says Mark, who started serving on the Production Team six years ago, before it became part of the Worship Team. “And then we’ll work our way toward something brighter. There are different techniques to fit the mood of the song.”
Choosing the visual look of each song – the lighting, the slide backgrounds – allows the team to flex their creative muscle and introduce new ideas, says Helen, who leads the visual component of the team.
Meanwhile, the person responsible for sound that week is also listening throughout rehearsal, keying in on where an instrument or a worship leader needs to be heard above the rest of the band. Finding those shifts helps them layer the mix, making the song sound as good as possible in a live setting.
“Joining the team has been an eye-opening experience to see how much work and planning goes into each service,” Helen says.
On Sunday mornings, those serving in the production booth meet at 7 a.m. to set up the speakers and other equipment, power things up, roll through sound check, and make sure everyone serving on stage has the right microphone. There’s a team huddle and they pray. Then the countdown starts, the intro video plays and the service begins.
“We’re behind the scenes, but we’re still an integral part of what’s going on, just like we’re all parts of the body in the church,” says Jeff. “The band needs us to do our job, and we need them to do theirs.”
And it’s a job that anyone can learn, the team says.
“People see what we do – they see the lights on the boards, they see all the fancy stuff, all the knobs and all the sliders, and they think, oh man, I could never figure that out. It’s way easier than anyone thinks it is,” says Mark, adding that someone with no experience could get the hang of things in just two weeks.
Mark says that when he started serving, he initially didn’t see it as an important role.
“I saw it as, it helped, it makes it nicer, it gets people more engaged,” he says. “But I always thought, if we weren’t there, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. And then, probably about a year in or so, we started doing stories more regularly and I heard how, in many of the stories, people were saying they weren’t able to make it to church, but they were able to listen to the podcasts, and how many people got saved through that, and really got to know God.”
For Helen, one of the most rewarding things is working alongside other people who enjoy serving. Each week is different, she says. Some weeks involve more creativity, or require the team to think more on their feet. But everyone works together to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.
And amid the glow of sound boards and computer screens, there’s a glimpse of a bigger picture, Helen says.
“Sitting in the back,” she says, “you can see the reactions when people get baptized or are worshiping, and see what an amazing community there is.”
The Worship Team — Production
Mission: The Worship Team is part of the Arts department. We lead the church in worship each week through song and by creating intimate and exciting environments through production. We provide the model for what worship looks like and use sound, lights and media to allow for the clear and beautiful communication of the message of Christ.
The commitment: Serves on Sunday mornings and attends weekly rehearsals.
How you can join or find out more information: Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by the production booth any Sunday to meet the team and ask questions.