Always Test It!

A few weekends ago, I made a mistake. Granted, I make a lot of mistakes, but usually only I see them. Not this time though, everyone saw this fail. Not to sound overly dramatic, and to put it in perspective, no one lost their salvation, and most people didn’t pay much attention, but I did. It was one of those things that as soon as it happened, I knew what was wrong and that I failed to test it ahead of time.

At Northview, we use a 50″ TV on a cart that’s positioned just behind the pastor. This is for the sermon notes at our satellite campuses. Using the TV we don’t have to cut away from the pastor’s face to show the notes.

Normal protocol is to test the TV during Saturday’s rehearsal, and with everything else going on that day it just didn’t happen. I know that had we properly tested it, I’m sure it would have worked. But since we didn’t karma was working against me. The pastor began his message with the TV still on stage flashing “No Signal” and the call was made to get it out of there and the problem was quickly rectified off stage for the next service.

Like I said in the beginning, no one was eternally harmed by this mistake, it did catch the pastor by surprise since he was counting on interacting with the TV during the sermon. It did however make me reevaluate my internal checklist and rule that nothing untested makes it into the weekend service. Putting the time in, and making sure all the little details are accounted for makes the bigger picture of the entire service come together.

Once we have made it past the first run through, things need to be set. No more swapping mics, or trying anything new. It is time to do it, just as it will happen. Plan for the unexpected, such as, I always have a backup mic ready to go, (that gets tested as well.) That way if something was to go wrong, we already know what to do. So the moral of this story: Always Test It!

Always Test It!
Stan standing next to TV with no Signal

If you were at that service a few weeks ago, and watched that TV roll on, then back off, I confess. It was my fault. I add that to the list of mistakes that I can now laugh at like the helmet-cam (another story.) We all make mistakes, and things happen. It’s how we handle it moving forward that defines us.

Have a funny mistake that you’ve learned from? Share it with me!

A Good God

I feel that this question of “How can a good God, allow bad things to happen?” is asked a lot recently. People looking for answers, and explanation, and a reason to keep on believing. While I do not have great answers or insight into this. I did  come across this short thought from Max Lucado and it just struck me as important to share. As we live out our faith, we meet trials and struggles all along the way. It is easy to blame God, ask how or why something happened. As humans, our minds cannot always see the big picture, what’s going on in the “upper story” as my Pastor, Steve Poe often says. The upper story is what God is doing beyond our current comprehension or current circumstances.

Just last week I was heading to speak at my first conference ever. I was nervous, but excited. While on my way there, I received word that my grandfather, a man who I regard as a hero, was suffering a heart attack. How could this be, I remember crying out to God on I-465, demanding that this not be happening.

Here’s what Max Lucado has to say:


“God at times permits tragedies. He permits the ground to grow dry and stalks to grow bare.

He allows Satan to unleash mayhem. But he doesn’t allow Satan to triumph. Isn’t this the promise of Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (NIV)?

God promises to render beauty out of “all things,” not “each thing.” The isolated events may be evil, but the ultimate culmination is good. We see small examples of this in our own lives. When you sip on a cup of coffee and say, “This is good,” what are you saying? The plastic bag that contains the beans is good? The beans themselves are good? Hot water is good? A coffee filter is good? No, none of these. Good happens when the ingredients work together: the bag opened, the beans ground into powder, the water heated to the right temperature. It is the collective cooperation of the elements that creates good.

Nothing in the Bible would cause us to call a famine good or a heart attack good or a terrorist attack good. These are terrible calamities, born out of a fallen earth. Yet every message in the Bible, especially the story of Joseph, compels us to believe that God will mix them with other ingredients and bring good out of them. But we must let God define good. Our definition includes health, comfort, and recognition. His definition? In the case of his Son, Jesus Christ, the good life consisted of struggles, storms, and death. But God worked it all together for the greatest of good: his glory and our salvation.” [/box]

I love the line that says “He doesn’t allow Satan to triumph” I know recently as my faith has been growing, Satan is trying anything he can to have me remove my focus from Jesus. I truly believe that he did not want me speaking to those people, who came to learn how to mix sound better for their worship services. But God used that time on my way to the conference to reset my focus, and ensure that I was relying on him and not myself.

How is Grandpa? He’s fine, there wasn’t any evidence of heart damage from the heart attack. He received a pacemaker and at 88 years old, he is back home enjoying life. God is good.

(An Encouraging Word from Max Lucado – Source)

Creating a Strong Production Team

As I talk with fellow technical leaders I am often asked, “How do I grow my team?” Beyond bulletin announcements, ministry fairs, and just talking with people. I have found that you have to build a healthy environment in your existing team first. Then they will be your best recruitment tool. Here are the three things I have learned the hard way in building a healthy team.

[box] Communicate – Keep your team in the loop. Often times as staff members it’s easy to forget that our volunteer leaders aren’t in all the meetings you are. Like the hallway conversation, where sudden changes get made. I try to send out a weekly update to the entire team. Sometimes I video it, other times I don’t scare them with that and just type a newsletter. Then if there are any service order changes I know of by Friday I sent a message through Planning Center to the team that’s serving that weekend. [/box]

[box] Be Honest – Nothing makes a volunteer run from your ministry faster than being lied to. Now this doesn’t have to be a flat-out, deceitful lie, but they don’t know that. I have messed up in the past, forgot to schedule someone, forget to program a video, or not tell someone they don’t need to come in. All seem little, but human nature is to save face, make a quick excuse for why something happened. Honesty is always the best policy when working with volunteers (or anyone for that matter.)   [/box]

[box] Be Dependable – Follow through with what you say you are going to do. Show that you value the time they are giving. I have told people I would have the schedule out by a certain day, or host a training time and just failed to follow through. That hurts your team’s confidence in you. They are looking for reliability and want to know their time matters. [/box]

With your existing team running smoothly, new members have a better time getting involved and staying active. No one desires to be a part of a dysfunctional team.

Check out my post on Recruiting Volunteers Here 

Want to talk about more ways to build your team? Contact me!

Weekend Mix

2013-09-15 11.37.17

We started a new series this at Northview called “A Journey Home” – I’m really excited for this series as it includes a special or two each weekend. These specials tie in better than any other series I’ve experienced before and just bring the message home.  Posted below are the live board mixes from week one. The band and vocal team this weekend was absolutely amazing! Enjoy these songs, and let me know what you think.

Weekend Mix:

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Planning Center Online

Planning Center Online is a little gift from above for those of us who schedule church services. Now this post is in no way endorsed by them, I’m not receiving a kickback, the people at Planning Center Online do not even know I exist. This post comes out of years of experience, and a want to help churches get better. I remember back to when my tech team schedule was a Word document, or when I upgraded to Excel (those were the days.) Trying to keep my list straight and make sure that I really did have coverage. My reason for this post comes from many churches asking for advice out of frustration with their current way of organizing their teams. When I ask if they’re using Planning Center Online (PCO) I often hear  two things, the first being no and the second, is that they only use it for one thing. Maybe as a team database, or for simple scheduling. I can tell you from first hand experience, only half using this solution is a frustrating world for all parties involved.

Planning Center Online

So what does Planning Center Online offer?

  • Entire team database. All production, vocalist, choir, and band are quickly accessible in the search features.
  • Service flow. Build your service, add times and notes. Print off a run sheet for the entire team, and everyone stays connected.
  • Rehearsals. Upload mp3 files of the worship songs along with the chord charts/sheet music for the band to rehearse too. No more coming in mid-week to pick up their song book for the weekend.
  • Scheduling. Takes some of the hassle out of scheduling with multiple ways to get people plugged in.
    • Block Out Dates
    • Team Scheduling
    • Signup Sheets (allows team members to sign themselves up)
    • Auto Scheduling

Those are the four big features of PCO (in my opinion.) There are some other cool things like Music Stand, Projector, and Resource Calendar. I have not personally needed to use the other features but know that others really like the Music Stand feature for using their iPad on stage. For my team, I have people who want to serve the same time each month setup into “Teams” that I schedule as far out as we have services listed for. Then I use the Signup Sheets to allow those with more flexible schedules to fill in where they can. If someone declines, PCO will show you who else is available. The whole thing makes scheduling a lot easier (unless you start pushing buttons like I did that one time.)

In the service flow, place as much information as you can to help your team. I normally look to see who is leading each song, what key it is (setting audio plugins) and if there is a fill track. Other info I have seen people put here is dress code, call times, and a general checklist for the entire team. Use this sheet to keep everyone on the same page. The service flow is also where I have seen churches give up. They don’t feel the need, or maybe do not know where to start. I can tell you the need is there, keeping your entire team on the same page is crucial in today’s media driven services.

To help you get started here’s a sample service order from Northview: August 31 & September 1, 2013  I blacked out last names for privacy, as well as leaving the team list off, but that is normally printed at the bottom.  Hopefully this can give you can get an idea of what these look like (at least for us.) Often times my copy at the sound board is covered in handwritten notes by the end of the weekend.

I purposefully kept this post brief. Wanting to just give you some ideas, I would love to talk to you more about how to implement PCO into your service flow. Feel free to contact me here: CONTACT and let’s talk.