Evaluation is a vital part of making your Worship Experiences better.

There are times, as media leaders in our church, where I believe we may feel timid about critiquing the work of a volunteer. Although I do think that we need to be more delicate in our approach with volunteers, knowing that they are serving for free, I believe volunteers do want to serve our church with the best of their ability. To lovingly come alongside them to cast vision and evaluate Worship Experiences to make them better is to their benefit, to the benefit of your team, and to the benefit of your congregation.

Let me give you 5 ways I have found to improve the way you evaluate your Worship Experiences with your team.

1. Ask Your Volunteers their thoughts before Telling Them Things to Fix.
I started to use the approach of asking questions to the team first instead of going down my list of critiques. For example, during Run-Through on a Sunday morning, I would make a list of things that I saw that needed to be tweaked or fixed going into the first service of the day. When our production team met before the start of the first service, instead of running down my list of tweaks, I would ask the team what they thought of the Run-Through and what areas we might could [sic] tighten up.

What I found with this approach is that most of the time, the team members vocalized with each other exactly what was on my list. If they didn’t, I would ask questions to steer them to think about possible improvements. Asking questions instead of rattling off my list of fixes allowed them to feel ownership in the process. It also allowed them to think for themselves and not rely on me for all the answers. It allowed me to let the team operate on their own.

2. It’s okay to Push for Excellence.
I’m not sure where our mentality to think that just because we are working with volunteers means we need to ‘accept the inevitable’ that our Worship Experience is going to be sub-par, but I’d like to bust this stigma. Why not strive for the most excellent Worship Experience we can craft as a team together ever, every Sunday? When did it become not okay to push for excellence with our team, staff members or volunteers?

If we set the expectations for our team, cast compelling vision, I’ve found that the team can rise to the occasion. If I act like I don’t want to be there, that I have a million other places I’d rather be than on church on Sunday morning, that I don’t care if the Experience for our guests is the best it can be, my team feeds off that.

It’s okay to push for excellence. Don’t be a jerk. Be loving and kind. Encourage a lot more than you critique. But lead your team.

3. The Details Matter.
At the risk of sounding too picky, details in our Worship Experiences matter. Fix the extra space, the typo, the wrong font size in the lyrics for that worship song. Adjust that light fixture where it is balanced on both sides of the stage. Fix the choir or worship band so that [they’re] symmetrical or in a great place to be lit on stage. The details show you care.

I am not saying to be overly sensitive about every little, tiny thing, especially if the audience will never be distracted by it.

I am encouraging us to take pride in everything that is presented on Sunday. If we, as leaders, care about the details, our team will pick up on that. They start caring about each element as well. If the details start to slide, our experiences can start to look sloppy and not well put-together. Details matter.

4. Look for common Themes and Mistakes.
Common mistakes from multiple team members could be a great opportunity to plan a training event to cover that topic. If your camera operators are consistently struggling with the focus of their camera shots, take note of that. If your ProPresenter Operators are continually behind on lyrics or missing cues, plan a training night for ProPresenter Operators only to work through common mistakes and possible solutions.

A good time for a training night could be the same night your band rehearses. This provides live people on stage to practice with. Be sure to talk with your Worship Leader and explain your vision to them so they know what you are thinking.

Common themes and mistakes might give you an opportunity to add items to your training guides or checklists for each position. Finding solutions to common problems help when newcomers are added to your team. It allows you to speak into possible mistakes before they happen.

5. Be specific.
I have struggled in the past with either not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings or not communicating well what I’d like to see in the Worship Experience. One thing I’m realizing more and more as I serve in ministry, is that at times ‘to be unclear is to be unkind’. Meaning, it can cause more confusion or heartache to be vague about something you want changed in the Worship Experience than to be specific.

Sometimes, this is extremely hard. We are dealing with volunteers. We are dealing with people.

Try asking questions to your team as I suggested above first.

But there are times when we need to lead and we need to be specific about what we want to see. Be kind, be loving, but be clear and specific.

If you video record your services, try uploading your service to Vimeo. You can make your video private and only give the password to your team members. Then you can type notes in the Description section in the Settings of your video. When typing in a timecode in the comments, Vimeo automatically makes the timecode clickable and will jump straight to that timecode in your video.

So when evaluating your Worship Experiences, you can point to specific times in the service and make a note to encourage your team or challenge your team through a critique.

For example:

4:15 – Great stage camera shot! That’s what I’m talking about! Wow! The rack focus shot into the keys was amazing!

24:12 – Let’s work on leading lyrics here, I felt like the congregation struggled singing because our lyrics were a touch behind.

I have found these tips useful for evaluating the Worship Experiences I’ve been involved in. I hope they help you as you lead your team to excellence this Sunday!

This article originally appeared here.