120 Days ago…

I did the scariest thing I have ever done. Yes, more terrifying than asking my in-laws to marry their daughter, scarier than watching my sons being born, and yes, even scarier than that time I ate at Waffle House 5 consecutive nights.

120 days ago I walked into my bosses office at one of the best jobs I’ve ever had and said, “It’s time for me to leave.”

God in his infinite wisdom had made it very clear that my time at Northview Church had come to an end. A time that I could have kept going at for an addition 5+ years. I loved my job and the people there. So many memories, so many friends. I wrestled hard with God for weeks leading up to that decision and every time I doubted Him, He showed up in a bigger way to prove my fears wrong.

I didn’t have the faith just to walk away; I had a family and a house payment, so I needed a paycheck as I am dependently wealthy. Thankfully a job was provided as well, a job that I wasn’t anticipating but had “I’m God, and I’ll take care of you” written all over it. Now, here I am, 120 days later and God’s plan in all this continues to unfold and little by little it makes sense.

Where did I go? Well, I’m glad you asked.images

Allow me to introduce you to CTS. Here I wear several hats as I found out I have a lot to learn. I am now the Project Manager for the installation department. I take a church that has hired us to do an upgrade and walk with them through the process of installation and training. CTS is a great company, and I am blown away by how they treat their employees and the churches they serve. This has been a change for me and caused me to stretch but in all things God is good, right?

 

I am also staying busy writing for my various favorite publications. Church Production, Worship Facilities, and Technologies for Worship have all graciously allowed me to stay on their radar and contribute.

In all this change, I was reminded of why I got into the Audio/Visual arts in the first place. I wanted to help churches. While my tradition into the secular world was one, I fought very hard against, I am finding myself engaging in more ministry opportunities than ever before.

I will leave you with this while I am not at a church currently in a serving role; I am still very much active in the tech community. I hope to continue to reach churches through various forms of media including this blog while working at CTS. My promise to you is that my advice will alway remain unbiased as it relates to integrators.

Thanks for taking an interest in where I am, and I look forward to connecting with you!

Make sure to follow me on Twitter: @shaunrmiller

 

 

 

Does it Make Sense? – 12 Days of Christmas (Posts)

Are you shocking your congregation just to shock them? I have a not-so-secret desire to work Meatloaf’s song “I’d Do Anything for Love, But I Won’t Do That” into a service. I have tried every angle possible, but still can’t quite find the right fit. See, I believe anything we put into the service needs to have a viable reason for being there. The reason could simply be “palette cleansing” or a way to turn the corner, but it needs to have a point for the greater good of the service. A disjointed mess of “good ideas” is still a mess when they pastor says, “Amen, you’re dismissed.” The congregation shouldn’t leave confused and not knowing what they just experienced.

Get someone else’s opinion: I like to wander the halls (that’s for a future post on my productivity) and pop in on co-workers in other departments. Catch them off guard and bounce an idea off them. See how they react, it may surprise you. Now just gather input, I don’t want to see you change your art by mob rule, or because the *accounting ladies didn’t get it. (*This is in no way a reflection on all accounting ladies or men for that matter. I just picked the most literal demographic I could think of). You just need the input from those outside your closest circle sometimes… That way you can fight off creative group think.

Creative Group Think happens when the team starts brainstorming an idea and it continues to snowball into either a giant inside joke that would take 20 minutes to setup or ends in showing tap dancing cats. These sessions can produce great ideas, but need to be bounced off others to make sure it’s not only funny to you or understood by “creative types.”

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Don’t waste your congregation’s time: I have seen so many great pieces used in Christmas services – the problem was, they could have been half as long. Once you have your givens established, like the sermon and offering, begin to fill in the holes. It’s safe to assume you’ll do some kind of “opener” for the service followed by worship/carols. Many churches end their services with a candle lighting / singing of Silent Night. With that, there’s 15 minutes or so left for programming something special. You don’t want to give your audience whiplash changing from topic to topic, but in a society that is conditioned to zone out quickly, you do want to keep their interest.

Christmas is a Time for Traditions: I’m not a big fan of doing things because “that’s how they’ve always been done” – Christmas being the exception. I feel most people picture that Norman Rockwell, Burl Ives, 1950’s perfect Christmas dream. They could sing all 18 verses of “O Holy Night” and be perfectly content. This is a time to play into that picture. While Christmas may not be a happy place for everyone, most people want it to be. Joy can come from what is familiar. I don’t think you need to do carbon copy services every year, but if something works for your congregation, don’t be afraid to keep bringing it back. At Northview, it’s snow machines. Year after year the service ends the same way, and it’s endearing to people. Embrace traditions when it doesn’t hurt anything to do so.

I wrote this in a post a while back and wanted to share it here:

[When Planning your services] take risks, be creative. The key is not to “wing it,” but to be intentional about each and every element that is put into a service. Ultimately, we aren’t in ministry to give the church a great show, but to provide an atmosphere of worship that helps the congregation connect with Christ.

 

Don’t be Stupid – 12 Days of Christmas (Posts)

Why are new updates so tempting? With new fixes and features added, you can just feel them calling to you to install them. That may be one of the things I now miss with the new Mac OS Mavericks. It just installs them for you. I don’t get to see what is changing. Well with so much digital equipment in the church these days, it seems like a full time job just keeping things up  to date. However, there is a good time and a bad time to install these.

Last Christmas season, while tuning our wireless microphones, I noticed there was a firmware update for the receivers. The temptation was too great, and I began installing. The first 6 units went just fine. Then it happened. I bricked the seventh wireless. If you’re not sure what that means, its a term for when a piece of electronic equipment gets misconfigured or damaged from an update and it no longer functions. It’s basically a brick to you. Yep, I did it: I bricked the unit and had to send it back to the manufacturer for repair. img_2316

Now I was not wrong in installing updates, and the problem that occurred could have happened to anyone at anytime. But I was stupid to do it at our busiest season when the microphones were functioning just fine. Sometimes though you have no choice, as in the case with a few video recorders we own at Northview. These units had a bug in them, and we had to install the update in order to use them effectively in our system. That was a risk worth taking because they were no good to us the way they were. img_2186

Technology will fail, and cause you headaches at the most inconvenient times, like these pictures of our backscreen with a giant 80’x30′ blue screen of death showing on it (thank you Microsoft). But during this ever important season, don’t tempt the update gods. Do your best to hold off when your schedule allows for proper testing and even time to repair if need be. This post may seem common sense; but as someone who has been in live production as long as I have, I still do stupid things at times, and we could all use a good reminder.

 

Okay, I spilled my guts on the internet, care to join me and share your story?

 

Is it too late to make a New Year’s Commitment?

I have been meaning to get back to blogging on my personal site for several weeks. I’ve had the best of intentions, and have even sat down to start writing. Then life would call, and off I went to attend to whatever emergency had come up. Even this post has already been interrupted and I’m only a few words in. Well needless to say, I have committed to taking this blog seriously, I want it to be a resource for others to learn from the mistakes and successes I have already encountered (usually more mistakes.)

I hope you will journey with me and continue to check back often, comment and engage with the content. I am still learning as well, life is never something you master.

Currently I am working on the the Goals and Strategies for my tech team at Northview I look forward to sharing the ideas we’re coming up with here. I should be able to share those soon.

Blessings and may your audio always be clean and your video HD.

Shaun

 

 

The Christmas Story

As a child we would all gather as a family at grandpa and grandma’s house on Christmas day. There we would eat, share gifts, and enjoy each other’s company. The highlight was when grandma would recite the Christmas Story found in Luke 2 from memory. I can still picture her standing in the living room saying, “And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

She was an amazing woman and I miss her very much. As a tribute to her and in honor of Christmas I have posted the New King James Version of Luke 2.

Merry Christmas,

Shaun

 

Christ Born of Mary

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.
Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Glory in the Highest
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them,and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seenHim, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving Proclamations started with George Washington, but it was Lincoln who made it a national holiday. Before this, each state celebrated a day of thanks on their own schedules. Lincoln responded immediately to the request of  Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor. She had been petitioning for 15 years to make Thanksgiving a national holiday and was ignored by previous Presidents.

Lincoln’s immediate response and how his Proclamation was written gives another view into his Character.

On this Thanksgiving let us not forget the source from which our blessings come – The ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

Happy Thanksgiving.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

 

Post #1

Well everything has to start somewhere. This this me jumping out of my comfort zone, and chasing a dream. I want to write and and I want to help people. Boom, I can do both with a blog. I am very self conscious going into this, I read a lot of other blog with authors much more eloquent than I am. I guess though, I’ll never know how my writing is if I never write it.

I pray you find solidarity, support, and advice in the writing to come. It is truly my goal to be a blessing to you and your ministry.

Thank you for checking out my blog, let’s do this…

 

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~Dr. Seuss