"The goal is for every person serving to be known and appreciated for who they are, instead of the role they fill."
When Dorothy Griffith showed up for her volunteer shift as a PowerPoint operator in the Rock-n-Roller Coaster room this past February, there was something at her post. A basket full of lotions, soaps, and chocolates sat there with an anonymous note that read, “We’re praying for you!” It was the sweetest welcome back present!
Three months earlier, Dorothy had texted Bonnie Ruth Rolf in Tech Arts (TA) to tell her she wouldn’t be able to volunteer for a while because of some life-altering circumstances: she had been diagnosed with cancer. Almost immediately, Bonnie Ruth and the TA team began praying for Dorothy and her husband. “My phone never stopped ringing,” says Dorothy. “It was such a surprise. Gateway is huge; how could anyone know I was in the hospital, let alone visit me?” Tech Arts staff and other volunteers brought food to her home and sent care packages with encouraging cards. When she returned to the church to volunteer that day in February, while still going through radiation treatments, she was met not with fellow volunteers—she was met with family.
Often unseen, the Tech Arts ministry helps Gateway look and sound as good as it does. Every service and event (no matter how big or small) requires the skills and training of several TA volunteers and staff. They set up the lighting and audio for each service and capture the video for people watching online around the world. It’s a digital way of fulfilling the Great Commission. Everything expressed outside of Gateway’s walls is a result of what TA does behind the scenes.
As one of the most volunteer-heavy ministries at Gateway, with over 600 volunteers across all five campuses, TA has a lot of moving parts. But as busy as they are, the goal is for every person serving to be known and appreciated for who they are, instead of the role they fill. Bonnie Ruth says, “I think when people find their place in the church, it moves from being a place they attend to a home.”
To make this a reality, TA volunteer captains work to make sure every volunteer is brought into the community. Some captains gather the volunteers together between services for training, to talk through the sermon, or to connect with the kids serving (TA has volunteers as young as seven years old). David Leuschner, associate senior director of Technical Arts, started off his career in the audio/video/lighting industry as an 11-year-old volunteer in a church, so his heart for volunteers of all ages has built the foundation for this ministry. Young or old, lighting ops or audio engineers, those in the Tech Arts ministry exemplify diversity and yet thrive as a community.
So how did this diverse, behind-the-scenes community develop? It wasn’t an accident. The Tech Arts team has been actively working toward creating a safe, fun, and vibrant atmosphere for volunteers and staff. Every year, in addition to campus-specific TA events, the whole department gets together for an epic shindig. This year, they hosted a TA Olympics, which included five color-coded teams competing against each other in basketball, archery, corn hole, bubble soccer, and human Hungry Hungry Hippos. The event opened with an executive director running through the crowd holding a torch!
In pure Gateway fashion, TA does its job with excellence but is also all about people. “Before I started helping out with TA, I didn’t feel like I was much use,” says Jacob Shapiro, one of the North Fort Worth Campus volunteers. “But as I kept progressing and learning more, I just felt like I was someone.” Jacob isn’t the only one. Stories have been pouring in. Like the 14-year-old girl who canceled her birthday party so she wouldn’t miss her shift with TA or the student whose mom called and said, “I couldn’t get my kid to come to church at all, and now he loves to be a part of Tech Arts and is involved in Gateway Students.” One couple, who moved to Texas not knowing anyone, got involved in TA and made lifelong friends.
And then there’s Dorothy, who, surrounded by so much support and many prayers from her TA family, found out this April that she is cancer free.
Life for TA isn’t just working with cameras, simulcasting services, preparing lighting rigs, and monitoring audio levels, it’s about being there for one another and making an impact in the kingdom of God. “The reality is if we didn’t have volunteers in Tech Arts, there’s no way we could do what we do. And if they’re going to help us steward our ministry at Gateway, then we can make it an enjoyable and memorable experience,” says Bonnie Ruth. “The way we do that is by caring for each other.”
For more information about Technical Arts or to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.