It's 5 minutes before the service and THIS happens:
- Your lead guitarist loses power to his amp.
- In testing the clicks, you realize they've stopped coming through the IEM's.
- One of the vocalists tells you the batteries died in her IEM pack.
- The bass player's signal to the board is suddenly lost.
- The pre-service music that is supposed to be playing has suddenly stopped for no apparent reason.
- The drummer asks for an order of service because he can't remember which song is first.
- Someone is running down from the baptistry because they need to know when baptisms are during the service.
- The booth calls to the stage to say that the lyrics computer is frozen and there won't be any lyrics for the first song.
- The Senior Pastor lets you know that the deacons will be making a presentation after the announcement video.
- The keyboard player realizes the adapter for her headphones is missing.
- The acoustic guitar is crackling every time he strums.
- The rhythm guitarist has no clue that he is standing in the dark because the light for him is 5 feet to the left.
OK...maybe not all on one Sunday, but have any of these things ever happened to you? As one who is responsible to help people focus on God, it becomes an impossible task to prepare spiritually and be concerned with every logistic element of the service. These are things that simply should not be of concern to the worship leader.
That's why, for the last 8 years, I've tried to utilize a "PA". PA stands for Production Assistant and it's one of the best choices I've ever made as a worship leader. My wife and I discovered this idea after attending the Saddleback Worship Conference years ago. Saddleback was using a PA and when they explained what it was, it opened our eyes to a whole new world. No matter what the size of your ministry, a PA will end up being the most valuable person on your team.
What do you look for in a PA?
The PA is one of those detail-oriented people who can anticipate what could go wrong during a service. They see things through the eyes of a guest and are able to think ahead and quickly develop a plan to remedy the problem before it happens or once it's already happened. When things go wrong on stage or in the booth, things can get pretty heated so a PA should also be thick-skinned and have good communication skills with ability to stay calm under pressure.
What does the PA do?
For us, because it is impossible for the worship leader to sit down with the tech team in advance, the PA meets with the Worship Leader to get the "vision" for the service in order to develop a picture of what the worship leader wants the service to look and sound like. The PA then becomes the liaison between the worship leader, the worship team, the technical team and any others involved in the service including ushers, communion servers, baptizers, presenters, etc.
After meeting with the worship leader, the PA's first responsibility is to come to rehearsal to take notes and make adjustments if need be to song lyrics and stage positioning.
The PA also serves the worship leader and worship team by helping them stay on-task and on-time. They do this by retrieving batteries, placing guitar/music stands and asking what they need such as an extra copy of the order of service. The PA also makes sure the worship team has cleared off water bottles, purses, cups, instrument cases, etc. prior to the service.
At the beginning of the service, our PA serves as a sort of stage manager, helping direct traffic or moving props when need be, but NEVER seen or heard. Therefore, a communication headset tied into the booth is very beneficial. During the service, they are constantly monitoring the surroundings for any audio or visual distractions, keeping an eye on the worship leader for any communication. Our PA usually stands toward the back of the worship center so to be close to the ushers, etc. The PA then cues the band at the end of the service if they are not in the service.
What the PA is NOT!
The PA is not the director and does not make directional decisions for the service. That is the job of the Pastor or Worship Leader. That is why they are called an "assistant". They are there to serve and support, not boss!
In the end, the incorporation of a PA has minimized the stress of Sunday morning for our worship leaders and allowed us to be more focused on God while leading worship.
Do you use a PA? If not, how do you address these kinds of things on Sunday morning in order to stay focused on leading worship?