There’s a booth in the back of most church auditoriums where rows of buttons, knobs, dials and cable magically translate into light arrays, crisp audio and instant video in our weekend services. Those elements represent the specialized knowledge and talent of a unique group of people. Now there’s a new online resource for church techies—from seasoned veterans to trained volunteers to those don’t know a fader from a potentiometer.*
The Tech Arts Network, launched earlier this month by five technical professionals, aims to be a resource for church tech directors all over the country, providing information, answers, knowledge-sharing and camaraderie.
“The five of us all have non-church experience working in the audio, video and concert production fields,” said Colin Burch, one of the founders. “And we all felt like we had great experience and gifts we could offer the church to enhance the message of the gospel.”
While technical information is available literally all over the Internet, the purpose of the Tech Arts Network is to bring relevant content from all technical disciplines together in one place—from a church perspective. The network is primarily a resource of audio and visual netcasts and blogs. These include Faith Tools—a roundtable discussion, Church Tech Weekly—a show on one subject or interview with a tech director, Church TD Profiles—an interview with one church tech director from around the country, small or large church, and Church Spin—a crazy show about how tech, design and social media integrate into the church.
The idea for the Tech Arts Network originated a few years ago with Burch’s “Faith Tools” podcast. Co-founders Van Metschke, technical arts director at South Hills Church in Corona, Calif., and Mike Sessler, tech arts director at Coast Hills Community Church in Aliso Viejo, Calif., were frequent pundits on that podcast, with lively round-table discussion about the pursuit of excellence in church production. All three were fans of Twit.tv, and Leo LaPorte’s “This Week in Tech” radio broadcast, which became their inspiration for an even more specialized network. Daniel Murphy, technical arts director at Rancho Community Church in Temecula, Calif., and John David Boreing, media director at The First Family, in Columbia, Tenn. now round out the team.
The need has become more apparent as tech production has become a burgeoning profession in the church over the last 15 years or so.
“Tech has become an integral part of how we do weekend church,” says Metschke. “It’s a response to the culture we live in where tech is such a major part of life. The church is adapting to that, becoming a Jew to the Jew, and a Greek to the Greek, as the Bible says.”
Yet church tech directors or producers can often be siloed in their church, feeling completely alone. While other ministries may share similar issues (the children’s pastor could ask advice from the youth pastor or men’s/women’s pastors, for example), the church tech person often has no one who understands their work, and needs a place to share and connect about specialized questions and issues.
Metschke says, “We want to make it easy. Everyone knows TDs are some of the busiest people at a church, and we wear a lot of hats. So The Tech Arts Network is a place for us all to connect. Our vision is for it to be a one-stop shop for community, for knowledge, for fun, and to be heard.”
*A fader is a slider and a potentiometer is a knob. And yes, I had to ask.