Volunteers are the life blood of any technical ministry. The staff guys are great but the volunteers really make or break the team. Tech volunteers are a little different then other volunteers, I want to prefeace this with every ministry has it’s own unique volunteer challenges and I have no idea what those are. However, I am intimately familiar with tech volunteers, and this is my ego-cast so I get to talk about them.
Tech volunteers have to be scheduled on a fine line between overworked, and out of practice. Take camera ops for example, most of my volunteers have nothing to do with cameras outside of serving on tech. If they take 2 weekends off they will not have touched a camera in 5 weeks. So I keep my team lean to make sure no one is out of practice (yes I understand that sounds like a rationalization, but it also happens to be true). The down side of this is that I don’t have a lot of people sitting in the bullpen just waiting for me to go “give me the lefty.”
Two years ago we launched our first multi-site, when that happened I lost some critical volunteers. Anyone serving in a volunteer oriented ministry knows what I am talking about. These were some of my go-to guys, the people I relied on most, and they were leave to go to our multi-site. Good news was the multi-site got some people who were trained, and knew exactly what they needed to do. Down side, I did not have people to back fill those positions at the main campus.
Fast forward two years and I have built my team back up to a great number of people, a great rotation, and now we are launching another multi-site. In the last 2 weeks I have been told by between 1/3-1/2 of my volunteers will be leaving. Most to the multi-site but some because families are moving, graduations, general life change.
So here I am faced with the challenge of rebuilding this team for the 3rd time in 4 years, and to be honest I am just not sure I am up to it.
Every tech ministry knows how hard it is to recruit people, but I honestly think it is tougher for us than other ministries. I am biased about that, most likely, but I still believe it. Anyone can park a car, though it take a special person to tolerate getting the finger every weekend and continue to happily serve. Anyone can hold a crying baby, though it takes a special person to really feel like they came out ahead in that deal. I know our first impressions people and our kid city people would rather have the volunteers who love it and are great at it. However, they can make do with those that will just do it.
That is never enough for tech. Techies are, not always, but almost always; geeks, nerds, egg heads people who speak in a language of numbers and alphabet soup. Most have a background in computers or technology, most will be predisposed to enjoy being around the warm ambient glow of TV panels and console controls. Techies are a breed apart, not above, but apart and not just anyone can do it.
However, the most important thing is techies get it done! When the power flaking out, when there gremlins in the machines, when all the tie line and gaff tape in the world just isn’t enough they still get it done. They produce the improbable in no time, the miraculous on a moments notice, the impossible served weekly. The best recognition they can ever hope receive is NONE, and now I need to find more of them… awesome!