For over three years now I've been a volunteer on the media team at my church. My main area is lighting, but when it comes to The Well (our women's ministry), I do a little bit of everything. Tonight was our fall kickoff, and I was thinking about how differently I experience church in general when I'm in the booth.
Being a media volunteer is interesting in that there is both a deeper involvement with the service and a sort of detachment. I get to see the worship band sound check, I get to help set the mood for worship with lighting colors and visual backgrounds, and I get to join the worship team and leads for pre-service prayer. At the same time, during the actual service I am somewhat disengaged from actually worshipping because I am paying attention to changes in tempo, transitions between songs, and making sure that when the MC comes up there is appropriate lighting on stage. Tonight during the message I was helping my amazing VO operator be prepared to put the right slides up on the screen. I hear what's being said, but I don't always retain very much.
As a church volunteer and leader, I know that I can't always get filled up or fed spiritually during weekend services. I have to be intentional on my own time to focus on God, and it can be hard to make that happen when things are busy or I'm tired or I'm just feeling depressed. That's why it's really neat when I make connections in a different way.
Some of the most honest conversations I've ever had have been while I've been in the media booth. There's just something about being in a small, quiet room with just one or two other people that invites you to blurt out things you might not say otherwise. Sometimes it starts with a comment about the service, sometimes it's more intentional. Tonight one of my dear friends was working alongside me, and even though she wasn't feeling great, she stayed late after the service to sit and listen while I spilled what was going on in my life. She gave me the wonderful gift of just listening.
By the time we wrapped up our conversation, most of the people had left. I typically miss most of the after parties at The Well, and that's entirely on purpose. By the time I've been planning all week and then running the service, I'm pretty tapped out. Big crowds of people exhaust me, and I sort of hate meeting new people in general. When I finally emerge from the booth, I am able to spend a little bit of time with my friends who are still there to clean up and shut down the building. I like being useful and helping to tear things down and get the space cleaned up.
Sometimes I think about how nice it would be to get to join in the worship and not have to focus on anything but my experience with God, but mostly I'm thankful that I've found a way to engage in the church without constantly feeling uncomfortable or out of place. Most people probably have no idea what I'm doing, but I know that I'm useful. I like getting to be part of the action in a more hands-on way. And I'm really thankful for the amazing friendships I've found because of my willingness to sit in the back and work hard. There is a special joy in serving alongside people you love.