Here is my latest podcast episode!
A few months ago, a good friend of mine was the Tech Director in a local church. But one day he walked into his boss’s office and simply quit his job. My friend is a husband and father of one boy and had recently purchased his first house. On the professional side, he always displayed incredible work ethics and commitment to the ministry. But he walked away from a job he’d held for years serving in a local church and decided to pursue a job outside the ministry with a technology company.
A few days later, we had the chance to meet and talk. I was curious to learn from him what had led him to make such a change that would not only affect his job but also his calling. He is a very energetic and creative person, always developing new ideas, and I was certain that when he left the ministry, the church would greatly miss him.
When we met, I asked him a simple question. “Why did you decide to leave the ministry?”
At first, he looked surprised. But he quickly corrected me and said, “I’m not leaving the ministry.”
With relief, I thought for a brief moment that he was not walking away from his calling. But I waited for a more comprehensive answer. Honestly, I was expecting some common answers like needed more money, was in search of new challenges, or even it was time to move on to something new.
Instead, he gave me a different answer. “I lost my passion for THIS ministry.” That response took us into a 2-hour conversation that opened my mind and heart to things I should consider as a pastor and ministry leader.
He explained that the environment he was in led him to lose his passion for the ministry where he served. This came to be as a warning sign. Was it possible that my leadership style could create an environment in a way that volunteers may also lose their passion for the ministry?
In the church tech world, it is easy for us, as ministry leaders and volunteers, to lose sight of WHY we do WHAT we do and instead, focus on things like perfection, excellence and performance ONLY. After all, we are mostly judged by those things. And they are, and should be, part of what we do. But perfection, excellence and performance ONLY should NEVER represent WHY and WHAT we do.
As ministries grow, churches also face an increased risk of replacing the passion volunteers and staff have for the ministry with complex, bureaucratic ways to achieve things like efficiency and excellence. Please, don’t get me wrong. I am all about efficiency and excellence. But I am also convinced that we must make every effort to lead people by our deep passion for God’s purpose in our own lives.
So, what can we, as ministry leaders, do to keep reaching for excellence without driving out the passion our volunteers should have for the ministry where they serve? Here are few things I think may help us to achieve these goals.
Many times we ask our volunteers to know the job and do it well, because excellence pleases God. True, God deserves our best. But remember, first, to serve Him. In any capacity, it is an act of worship.
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’ ” Luke 4:5-8
Serving in church should not be associated with a job you do. It requires commitment, energy and sacrifice, so you must find your passion first (this rule can also apply to your job, but I am only referring to volunteer work at church). That is what will allow you to fully experience WHY you do WHAT you do. During my last few years of leading volunteers, I intentionally devoted time to have front and center a clear understanding that WHAT they did every weekend had an eternal value. Even if what they did was done from behind the scenes, the reality of its value never changed. In church, real excellence is driven by a true passion for what you do for God and others.
People most likely will follow ministry leaders who display real and genuine passion for the ministry they serve. Many times, people will come to you first because there is something attractive about your ministry to them. For example, if they like kids, their initial feeling may be to serve in a children’s ministry. If they have some interest in technology, they may feel like serving with the tech team. The problem is that these initial feelings do not usually translate into long-term commitment. Anything driven by passion will generate commitment, because now the person doesn’t just do something they like, now they serve with PURPOSE. Ministry leaders must display they passion for the ministry they serve so other can see and follow.\
Sometimes ministry leaders feel that for some unknown reason, volunteers are less interested in serving, or maybe less committed to the schedule. Maybe it is because more and more they feel like they are part of a transactional environment instead of relational ministry. God designed us to have a relationship with Him (1 Corinthians 1:9 – God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.) and each other (Romans 12:9-10 – Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.) When serving in ministry, relationship should be the driving force behind how people serve with you in the first place.
If you were watching the ABC network after 11 pm on December 31, 2016, you saw what has been called one of the most disastrous New Year’s Eve performances in recent live broadcast history. Soon after Mariah Carey started her vocals, she stopped singing. Mariah remained onstage throughout the entire song, and it became clear that the vocals coming through the sound system were from a recording. Overall, this was a very bad moment for a live show. Now blaming and finger pointing are going around, in an attempt to explain and/or place blame for what happened.
As I thought about what happened, I asked myself, Is there anything I can learn from what I saw on TV that night? Could it affect how I do my job and how our tech team enhances our weekend service experience?
Leading people into a time of worship does not happen only from the stage. What we do behind the scenes is a big part of the worship service, and it is not always noticed. But you and I know the value of what we do every weekend.
DISCLAIMER: I know it may be odd to use this experience to make a comparison to a worship experience. The environments and goals are complete opposites. So let me make very clear, this blog discusses the technical side of what we do in churches every week, and it is nothing beyond that.
With that said, many of us need to consider our weekend services as LIVE events. In fact, that’s what they are. These LIVE events rely heavily on technology, including high-end projection systems, IMAG, HD camera operators, online broadcasting, multi-campus viewing, live broadcasting, etc. Looking at our weekend services as LIVE events does not take away the value of the worship experience in our lives every weekend. But we are the production teams for LIVE events. This means we need to understand our jobs as programming and production teams with checks and balances to prevent technical failure from taking away the full experience worship service can be.
What we saw on live TV on New Year’s Eve is a great reminder that the audience members are the ones who really suffer themost when things go wrong. I don’t think those of use watching on TV and those in New York right in front of the stage hoped for something to go badly wrong. On the contrary, we all hoped for a great show, something that would blow our minds technically and vocally.
We don’t expect a worship service that blows our minds technically and vocally when we go to church every week. Instead, we come together with the expectation of meeting God through a meaningful time of worship. Sometimes this includes watching a powerful video testimony, hearing His word through a spoken message, and more. We want to have all this with NO DISTRACTIONS, and that pretty much sums up our job. It happens from both sides, on stage and off stage. When your tech crew understands the importance of meaningful rehearsals, good communication, and backup plans, you won’t be able to always prevent things from going wrong. But when things happen, you will be able to resolve the problem faster and more precisely.
These are my thoughts for today. Feel free to comment, share and connect.
Have a blessed day.
Check out my video chat with Shaun Miller about church technology and infrastructure.
About Shaun: I am a tech nerd with a passion for ministry. I started in ministry at the age of 10, when I could hardly see over the Mackie SR32•4 VLZ Pro mixing console my church had. I quickly fell in love with all things production related. Lights, sound: I even miss the dual slide projectors with the remotes taped together so you could advance them simultaneously. I am now the Project Manager for CTS Audio in Brentwood, TN. Here I have the opportunity to spend more time with my family and have a broad reach in helping churches succeed.
ProPresenter is a very powerful program, and one that I use on a regular basis. Today I wanted to share a few hidden tips and tricks of the ProPresenter interface to help you edit slides more quickly, operate the program in a more powerful way and inevitably save time! So here are my hidden tips and tricks of ProPresenter:
I have written in the past about how being a tech director can be a lonely gig, and how it’s important to find a community for your own spiritual health. My heart has lately turned more outward, though, and I have been looking at the community as a whole. I’m not sure about where you live but from here at my church I can see two other churches, and beyond that I could easily walk to four more. I think the saying about swinging cats and hitting churches comes to mind here (not sure why you’d swing a cat at a church, but I’m open minded.)
One of the greatest joys of the ministry I get to lead is that its success depends one hundred percent on a team building mentality. We have much less chance to succeed without this mind set, so from beginning to end, we focus on the idea that serving together is better than serving alone.
Every year, Night of Worship is a great time of celebration through songs and devotion. This special night gives the Worship and Arts Team the opportunity to add more creativity to our stage and lighting design, projection elements and video work, compared to what we usually do for our regular weekend services.
At our church, nothing is more important than content—including song lyrics, printed text or spoken word. Everything else adds to how we deliver this content. So, once the songs are chosen and the devotion topic is outlined, I design a stage and all the elements to go with these, based on what is really important.
For this year’s Night of Worship, I designed a stage that would draw focus and enhance the experience without generating distractions. For instance, I used 18 moving lights – MAC101. But they moved very little, however. For each song I used the lights to create a scene, instead of making a lighting show with them.
That is why FOCUS is so important when it comes to worship services. Another aspect of lighting the stage has to do with not focusing so much on the band and focusing instead on the singer or worship team delivering the song. At times it’s appropriate to highlight a musician or two, but nothing is more important than directing the focus of the audience on the topic and where the message is being delivered.
The same principal applies to projection. Environmental projection was done in 4 columns (2ft x 16ft). For the main songs during our Night of Worship, I used a single image or video. Changes on graphics only happened when they absolutely made sense with the song and message.
Here is the list of equipment used for the Night of Worship:
18 MAC 101 (LED moving lights)
1 Christie DLP 7000 lumens Projector
1 Christie DLP 6000 lumens Projector
1 Pro Video Player – (environmental projection content)
4 LED Washer
Over 30 Stages Lights (leko, Source Four, etc.)
PHOTOS by Chris Williams
Every weekend at Mount Pleasant Christian Church, several projection volunteers control the presentation screens during the services. They advance slides, open new documents, and make sure the mouse arrow or computer desktop never show up on the screen.
The projectionists are responsible for displaying graphics and images that appear on the screens. These include videos, sermon slides, worship lyrics, and anything else that appears on the screens. The projectionists must be aware of the order of the service and at the same time be ready to make changes at a moment’s notice. Most importantly, the projectionists try to anticipate the needs of the congregation and have the song lyrics displayed just before the worshippers need them.
That is why, from time to time, we invite all projection volunteers to come together for a training session on ProPresenter, the software used to control and display slides and videos. During these training sessions we cover basic principles of presentation, as well advanced setting and features that can enhance any presentation during a weekend service.
ProPresenter 5 training will be offered to all volunteers at Mount Pleasant Christian Church on May 17, 2015, at 6 pm.
During the 2-1/2 hour training session, we will cover:
Even if you don’t yet serve on the Programming team you are welcome to attend this training session. Please RSVP to email@example.com