Christmas Series

Tomorrow starts my first series on this blog and I’m very excited. I’ve wanted to do a series for a while and began planning a few months ago, with the prodding (and support) from my (extremely successful blogging) wife Samantha – I figured this was the perfect time to release it. I love the Christmas season, and so what better way to kick things off than with a Christmas Series.

I’m calling it the “12 days of Christmas (Posts) ” clever, I know. I’ll cover a range of topics related to the biggest time of the year in the tech/production world. I can’t even count anymore the number of Christmas productions I’ve been apart of, and I hope that my experiences over the years can illuminate an idea for you to share with your team.

Christmas Series @ Northview

Nothing I have to share is earth shattering, I wouldn’t be that full of myself. However this is the season where we in the church get to begin telling the greatest love story ever written, and that my friends is earth shattering.

Please sign up for the updates, I promise I’ll be real with you just as I have in all my earlier posts. Learn from my mistakes, and go make your own, (that’s the best way to learn, isn’t it?) you have my permission.

Day 1 starts tomorrow. All the content is ready, and I hope you’ll share it with your friends that are in church ministry. You can sign up for updates here:

Bad Candy

Back in March of this year we had the privilege to host Tim Hawkins in concert at Northview. He was hilarious and a really great guy to work with. One of his routines revolved around bad candy that people hand out at Halloween. I can so relate. While I never had the wax bottles filled with goo, I did throw away trash bags full of those peanut butter and hair candies.

Whatever your beliefs are of Halloween, I hope you and your family have a fun and safe time. Here in Indiana weather is causing many cities and towns to change the trick or treating times to Friday.

Also, has anyone actually found a razor blade in their candy or is that an urban-legend?


Bad Experiences

I saw this video posted on Imagine Church‘s Facebook page last month and thought it was brilliant.

What are you doing to avoid giving guests at your church a “Bad Experience?” I remember when I was dating my wife, I attended church with her family while visiting them on my off days while on tour. I sat next to my fiancée in the hard wooden pews, while waiting for the service to begin. The pastor took the stage after worship and asked if anyone had brought a guest. I was quickly identified as a guest and asked to stand. This was a horrible first impression. I was a pastor’s kid, I had been in church all my life, but this went too far.

There is a fine line in church between making a guest feel welcomed and making them feel awkward. Like a sales person at a store, some people want left alone while they shop, while others would like you to lead them around and show them what they want. It takes a special group of greeters/ushers to tell the difference and allow people to feel comfortable. I am one of those people who would rather find my seat in the back than have an usher escort me to a spot in the middle of a row down front. That is just me, there is nothing wrong with asking for help either. The key as church leaders is to train our welcome teams to be helpful and not overbearing. Allow new guest to get acclimated on their own terms.

I have seen churches with multiple levels of greeters, allowing people to seek out the kind of welcome that makes them feel the most comfortable. Many people are coming into church with preconceived ideas about what they’ll experience. Whether that comes from years of being dragged to church as a child, or seeing it done poorly at another church, people bring their bad experience baggage with them. Help them to leave it at your doorstep this Sunday. Give them an experience they’ll tell their friends about.

What’s a bad experience you’ve had? Share it with me below.

(The video above is property of Imagine Church; they own all rights to it.)

Leading at Home

I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about how to lead at work, however recently, I turned my focus to the home. We showed this video at church as part of our sermon series, “A Journey Home.” The video depicts how words spoken to us as children can have a lasting impact on our lives. Every time I see this video, I get emotional thinking of how easily what I say as a parent can stick with my son. I want to be a great dad, and I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that I have been called to be a leader, not only at in my professional life, but more so in my home. I am doing my best to make sure that if my little guy wants to play, they know that they always come before “Daddy’s Work.”

Take a lesson from this video and make sure your kids know you love them. Make sure that as you lead your teams in your profession, that you’re also pouring yourself into leading at home.



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Know your gear…

We recently upgraded our analog monitor console that had an emotional breakdown for the last time. Earlier this year, just before rehearsal on a normal saturday afternoon, it began pouring out the magical blue smoke. This causing two of us to carry it, running across the stage to the loading dock trying to get it outside. Turns out it was still salvageable, and a few weeks later back into the mix it went.

[box] 2012-05-12 20.09.36-1-XL [/box]

Life was fine through the summer, until again, during a Saturday rehearsal the board had another break down. This was proving to become a common occurrence for the 12-year-old console. The decision was made to finally replace it, and a week later the new and improved digital console was in. But that is not the point of this post.

[box] 2013-09-22 15.48.00 [/box]

This weekend, through a minor configuration change, I manage to wipe the output settings to the band’s In-Ear monitors, not once, but twice. Sending me into an internal panic. See, I didn’t setup the board. I let one of my guys do it, so that he’d get experience and frankly he loves that kind of stuff. This left me out of the loop, which was my fault. Now with the band and vocalists looking over my shoulder, I had to keep calm and patch the board, all 32 outputs.

[box] 2013-10-10 19.46.06 [/box]

Because of the great work Kyle did setting up the console. I was actually able to re-patch everything quite quickly. However, it got me thinking what a risky move it is to have gear that plays such a vital role in our weekend service and to not know it inside and out. As tech people, whether on staff or a volunteer, we must make time to learn our equipment. If you’ve been around technology for any length of time, you’ll know how frustrating it can be at times. Knowing how it’s supposed to work, will help move troubleshooting along when needed.

Take a lesson from my faux pas this weekend spend some extra time learning your gear inside and out. I know I’ll be cracking the manual of our monitor console at Northview.

Morale of the story: Know your gear.

Guest Mixing

I had the awesome privilege to fill in for a fellow sound engineer at another church this past weekend. I rarely get to mix anywhere other than Northview anymore, in fact I can’t remember the last time I have since coming on staff. I need to get out more – I really do, I realized this weekend that my mix had become complacent in a way.

Guest Mixing at MPCC
Rehearsal at MPCC

I know exactly how the sound system at Northview sounds, and things have become so dialed in and digital (meaning everything’s saved) that I don’t have to do much more than just push faders it feels like. It’s like going to the gym and not adding any weight to the machines. While yes I am “working out,” I’m not bettering myself.

Guest mixing over at Mount Pleasant Christian Church (MPCC) this weekend was a big shot in my arm, and a bit of a smack across my face. It woke me up and inspired me to make some changes at Northview.

Three Takeaways:

  • You don’t know everything. Getting outside your circle of influences can really open your eyes to some new ideas.
  • You’re in someone else’s house. Be polite, and remember you’re there as a guest. Don’t try to fix everything, and ask before you do try to change something.
  • Network with their team.  Be careful not to cloister yourself away. Get to know their team, talk about their victories and celebrate them. Who knows you may get an idea to steal, I mean “borrow.”

I would urge all church sound engineers to get outside their auditoriums and mix at other churches. I guarantee it will open your eyes and make you a better sound engineer. If only to teach you other kind of equipment. I was fortunate enough to get to mix on the same model console as I have at Northview. However it was setup completely different from how I would run it. That’s not a bad thing, I’m not where the buck stops for sound board layout. The great thing with digital is, I was able to save their settings and lay it out like I wanted it. Then after the last service Sunday, I recalled what I saved at rehearsal and they’ll never know I was there.

So get your ears out there and change-up your surroundings. How often do you mix outside of your normal auditorium?