Welcome back to the Monday Morning Church podcast. Today, we’ve got Justin Hume joining us from Cross Church in Northwest, Arkansas. Great to have you on the show, Justin.
Thanks for having me.
Justin, you are the Media Director there at Cross Church. Can you tell us a little bit about what exactly that position does? What falls under your responsibilities?
Yeah, so I’m the Media Director for Cross Church, Pinnacle Hills — more a multi-site church. So as the Media Director, I’m responsible for all media on my campus. So audio, video, lighting are kind of the three disciplines, and it’s my job to make sure all of those happen for the big room on Sunday morning, and then for all the smaller spaces for students, children, that kind of thing, and just support our campus for media.
Now, you said there’s four different locations. And so, is there someone who’s in that position at each of the locations, and how do you all work together?
Yeah, so we have three larger campuses. And then our fourth campus is in Neosho, Missouri. It’s a much smaller campus, so they don’t have a media director. But the three larger campuses do. So me and the Springdale Campus, we both have Media Directors, and then we both have Technical Directors, and we do all those things for those campuses, and then we call each other if we need help. Then our Fayetteville Campus is opening a new building and they only have one guy right now who is a media director. That will probably expand. But more of one big team that we’re just each responsible for each campus, and help each other when we can, and call for help when big stuff happens, like Easter services, or concerts, that kind of thing.
Most of our listeners are Executive Pastors, and for those that are listening and are entering into this multi-site and trying to figure out exactly when you add in certain staff members, for those who are listening in that position, how many people come through your campus each week? And what kind of reporting structure do you have between you and the others who are doing this position, and maybe an Executive Pastor or someone else?
We have about — I think that our numbers recently have been about 2,000 people on a Sunday morning at our campus, and I believe Springdale is about the same. So we both Media Directors report to our Communications Director or Communications Pastor, Brian Dunaway, and he reports directly to our Senior Pastor, and the Executive Pastors, and everybody on the leadership team. He’s actually on leadership team, so they get to interact with him. So that’s how they access us if they have questions or issues or that kind of thing. It all kind of close to him and we really just try to build relationships. A big part of what I do is trying to build relationships with the pastors that are on this campus and what they need to further the gospel through their ministries. Really, all I’m doing during the week is, hey, Children’s Ministry, what do you all need? What’s coming up for you, that kind of thing. And then we have a campus pastor in each location who kind of oversees the whole campus. So I report directly to the Communications Director, but my campus pastor is still my boss too. So I do whatever he needs and work with him regularly.
Okay. Now, the position you’re in is, there’s usually quite a lot of volunteer work that goes into the media or Sunday morning lighting, the behind the scene stuff. What is your interaction with volunteers? Is that something that you kind of are regularly looking for people to volunteer on your team? How do you go about doing that? It can be hard to find those solid volunteers.
Right. Yeah. So that is probably one of the bigger parts of my job is to build that volunteer team and to invest in them. We run, right now, we have about 60 plus volunteers for our team to run Sunday morning. It takes about 18 people to run a Sunday service in the big room. We’ve got different depths at each position. The harder positions, we don’t have as many of and the easier positions, we have more. And we try to develop somebody who’s coming in and runs camera, who just started, we try to develop into the harder positions to run like the jib or something, or a harder camera or position. But it really, once again, it all comes back to relationships for my job. I’m trying to build relationships with each one of these volunteers to where they at, how are they feeling about their church, are they plugged in. Keeping them from coming in and volunteering every week for three months, and then getting burn out and leaving the church upset or frustrated. So it’s just trying to gauge where they at, develop the team instead of using the team, I guess you could say. We want anybody and everybody to be involved because we know that the more people that we have volunteering, they’re plugged in to our church and they’re not going anywhere. They’re going to feel more at home and ready to be plugged in instead of, hey, I’ll go to church this week and then I’m going to go take off for the next 3 or 4 weeks and I’ll come back. People volunteer here every week.
Yeah. It’s interesting because you have your actual position, making sure you’re staying up on the latest, audio, visual and everything. But then there’s also that management side of all the volunteers, and that’s a large volunteer group, 60 plus.
Yeah. It can be a little daunting sometimes, but as somebody who works in the church, I’m in the people business. And it’s more important, in most cases, than technology. We want the technology to be great, but we don’t want it to be a distraction. But just about all about technology is run by a person and we can’t, in the church, afford to pay everybody. I don’t think many churches can, like they do in the secular world, but we’ve got to use volunteers and we want them to be happy and healthy, and walking with the Lord. And so it ended up being a lot of what I do, trying to make sure that they’re better and they’re okay.
So what is a solution or a best practice that you all have implemented there? Whether it’s at Cross Church, as a whole, or even just at your campus that you’ve really found success with?
I think the biggest one, our campus has been here for about 10 to 11 years. We’re somewhere in there. With that and with media, as time goes on, the gear gets older and it starts to stop working. It’s one of the issues that I ran into when I came to Cross Church was we were chasing these issues, especially on Sunday morning. So one of the first things that I implemented was we would now do what we call Saturday checks. Because in most churches, we’re off on Friday and Saturday, which is a great plan because we work Sunday to Thursday. But Sunday is our big day in media. Everything has to go off without a hitch. We don’t want to fail, that kind of thing. But then we’re off the two days before Sunday. So we come in on Saturday for, hopefully, an hour and we run through a long checklist of testing all the different things, making sure the videos are loaded, slides are ready, things that we will work on during the week. But if it’s not ready yet by the time we leave Thursday or different kind of things, we come in and do that and test. And then we test the gear. So we come in and make sure the sound system is working. And I don’t know how many times we have come in on a Saturday and caught major major issues that we were able to fix or bypass or get around before Sunday morning. We’ve had a couple of times where the sound system was completely unfunctional. And we were able to come in, realize it on Saturday, work on it for several hours, and get it back up and running to run Sunday morning. Whereas, if we come in on Sunday morning and found it that way, it wouldn’t have been faster.
Yeah. I can imagine six o’clock on Sunday morning discovering your sound system doesn’t work.
Yeah. It’s not a fun experience at all.
Now, when you say, “We come in on Saturday”, who is this? The full volunteer team who is going to be coming on the next Sunday or who exactly comes in to do this?
Yeah. So I’m the Media Director, and then I have a technical director who reports to me. So he comes in with me and we both work through the list together and just get everything up and running. The volunteers will come in on Sunday morning. But it’s just the two of us, we’re both paid staffs.
Okay. So on the other side of this, then, what is something that you’re still searching for that solution for or still in process?
A lot of things. I think the hard thing in media that I’m constantly tweaking and trying to figure out is the work-life balance. Every time I think I’ve got it figured out, something in the church changes and then it’s like, oh, I got to do something different here. So I think that’s probably the one that I’m constantly working on. The technical side of what I do is pretty straightforward, if you really think about it. It’s ones and zeros, and data, cables, and pieces of gear. But the hard part is everybody in the church, every ministry is they are number one in their book, which rightfully so. So they all need us. And we have to provide for them the technical support they need to do ministry and to reach people for the Lord. But it’s hard on us because it’s like, hey, everybody needs us. We got to support them all which means we have no lives. So finding that balance and how to utilize our volunteers to help take some of that load off of us, what’s important and what can we give to someone else or figure out different ways to do it, to where we don’t have to be here all the time, so we can go home and be with our families.
So you’ve touched on this a little bit, then, but how do you and where do you go to make sure, one, you’re staying sharp on the technical side of your job, but then also this other side, what are some of the things you’re doing to stay healthy and stay fresh in your role?
From the technical side, the best place, I think, to learn most of that is from the secular market. What we do in the church, we do it for a very different reason, but we use the same gear. We’re buying the same console that they’re buying for whoever out there. So I tend to learn from a lot of the trade magazines, and listening to podcasts, that kind of thing, and find out what they’re doing at Disney or what they’re doing at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony. We watched that to go, hey, that’s cool. That’s something we can apply to the church or is that too over the top. But then from the other side, from the people side, a lot of it is just leadership, it’s learning to lead people. I listen to a lot of the leadership podcasts that are out there. Those are some of my favorites. Reading anything and everything about leadership or volunteers, taking care of people, how to communicate is a big one. I found that a lot of times, a lot of our problems is just poor communication. So learning how to be a better communicator is a big one for me too.
So, Justin, I want to ask this last question in two parts. The first one is just, what kind of encouragement would you give to others who are in similar positions to you in the church?
I think my encouragement would be to remember why you started doing this in the first place. For me, I’m called to ministry. I’m called to be a media director in the church. I realized that it is years ago, and this is what I was made for. This is what I do. And if you’re grounded in that, when people are coming at you from every direction and you’re up all night for the Easter service, and you’re trying to get everything done all at the same time, and you’re going, oh my gosh, it grounds you and brings you back to you. You know what? This is what I’m called to do, and I know why I’m here and what I’m doing it for. So don’t let all the stuff that comes flying at you from being a media director of, oh, this piece of gear has failed for me and the children’s guys need help with this. And blah, blah, blah, blah. Just ground yourself and remember where you started and why you do what you do.
That’s great. Okay. I want to ask another version of this question, which is, as I said before, most of our listenership is Executive Pastors, and most of them are over someone in a similar position to you. So on behalf of those in your position, what kind of encouragement would you give to Executive Pastors or those who are overseeing people who are in the technical media side, how to best relate and best encourage your community?
That’s an interesting question. I would encourage Executive Pastors that if you’re leading the media team, and the Media Directors, and those technical guys to realize that most of the guys who do what I do, we are trying our best to lead the media team to do things with excellence, and we’re trying to use technology to share the gospel. And with that, we have a balance between the technology side and the practicality side of — it costs a lot of money to do what you’re telling me to do. And what I think tends to happen is that we get a bad rep as they’re all angry, or they’re all frustrated. Because every time I go to them, they’re like, no, you can’t do that. And I would encourage Executive Pastors to stop and try to understand where we’re at when we say, we can’t do something without a lot of money, or just it isn’t practical, because we’re not necessarily saying we don’t want to do it. We just see everything from — We realize what all of it takes to get there. And a lot of times, I think, if you don’t know the technical world, you’re just going, why don’t you just do this? And it’s like, no, there’s a lot that go behind that. If you stop and listen to your Technical Director or your Media Directors, and really listen to what they’re trying to tell you, I think you’ll find that there’s some wisdom there of, hey, there’s a whole lot that goes into this that I don’t know anything about. And it may not be worse what you think it’s worse.
That’s great. Justin, thanks so much for being on the podcast today.
Yeah. No problem. I enjoyed it.