Ripoff or Stand on the Shoulders of Giants?

Countdown

Not every idea in the church world is original… In fact, not every creative idea, in general, is completely original. That’s a topic for another time.

For now… enjoy our Christmas Eve Countdown video.

If I could do it all again I wouldn’t have a sick baby who was super fussy leaving me to have little time to get a good audio test run… For the most part it turned out great… would like a little more lead vocal and touch less drum (or just less drummer in general… you worship leaders know what I’m talking about)

Life Hacks, Quick Videos and Comedy

VAC

So we’ve kinda started this idea that we’ve continued through a number of different seasons at The Crossing Church… Dumb (but hopefully funny) Life Hacks and tips for special occasions. They all generally are thought up last minute and filmed rather quickly but so far have been received extremely well.

Comedy in Church is hard. Comedy, good comedy, usually walks a fine line of appropriateness, which is generally frowned upon by the church congregation (even though the night before they were laughing out loud at similar jokes on their favorite TV show). That generally leaves church skits, videos, and even sermons kinda waffling in this no man’s land of humor – funny to those who are on the inside, not so funny to those who are not. Sometimes you have to do your best to play to the audience (rule number 1 or close in comedy… know your audience) and do your best to get some laughs. Laughs hopefully help break down walls that allow the ultimate message to be received better… in theory.

So here are a few of our attempts to have a little fun (and admittedly play to the audience we know regularly attends each week and hopefully stretch them a little too).

The Story of Christmas

So here is our Christmas production from this year.
We arrange all the music for the choir.
Attempted to run the lights via midi signal being sent from Ableton which was also running our tracks.  I also used my iPad to trigger songs via midi over wireless – which was pretty cool.
we don’t really have a camera team yet – that’s coming this next budget year… so the continuity issues you may notice are because we filmed one wide shot (and I didn’t do a good job setting that up) one service and a moving camera for the next.
This is what we were able to edit together.

Last Year Kind of Sucked… Here’s to the Next

2014

At the end of June 2013 I was diagnosed with a small lesion on one vocal chord as well as a slow closing chord on top of that. Honestly it wasn’t a huge deal but it definitely affected how I sang and controlled my voice.  I worked through it rather than taking a vocal rest – which in hind site was probably the correct course.  Vocal therapy, giving up coffee… (that may have been what sucked the most), and limited use when possible.  But things progressively got better and toward the end of the year I felt decently comfortable.  That’s when the suckage of last year began…

I have never been able to breathe out of my left nostril consistently.  I decided after talking it over with my doctor and a few others to have it fixed.  They corrected a deviated septum and scrapped down a bone spur in my nose.  The decision was made in large part due to our insurance premium being met and it not costing but a pittance out of pocket.

So we did.

I am happy to be able to breathe.  In fact for the first week or so I was a little light headed at most times… SO MUCH OXYGEN!  But this began a rapid decline in my vocal abilities and it has sucked and it does suck and i want the suck to end….

Since about age 6 I have been identified by my voice.  Singing has been who I am.  It was effortless.  It was easy.  It was fun.

Now… it’s work.  it’s hard.  it’s frustrating.  it’s not going well.  it’s the exact opposite of everything listed above.

nothing feels right.  nothing sounds right to me.  nothing is effortless.  When I listen back to recordings it’s not what I heard in my head or monitors.

And probably the most frustrating part is when It seems to feel good the video would suggest it doesn’t really sound so good.  When it feels wrong and bad to sing… it seems to sound good! UGH!

I knew going in that any surgery to your nose/nasal cavity can change your voice a little.  A lot of times you sound richer afterward.  I knew there would be a small adjustment going in.

Yes I’m stubborn.  it’s been almost a full year of this and I kept thinking I could overcome.  Lessons, lots of extra rehearsals, extra exercises, and every sing better product known to man… There’s pushing and pulling while singing… it’s not so much tone that is off it’s control… which leads to pitch… urrrgghhhh.

So here I am broken… with no confidence on the platform that when I open my mouth anything close to what I want will come out.  And so starting in a couple weeks (in order to get a few things together and prepared) I am going to do what I should have done in the first place and take 6 weeks of complete vocal rest.  Should be fun (My wife is pretty excited…)

I’m scarred; terrified that even after this time I won’t ever come back to a place where it’s just a pure joy to sing.  I don’t know what’s next other than trying to shut up.

 

So here we go.  Last year sucked! Here’s to next year.

(side note; not all of last year was so tough… after a little more than 2 years of trying, a surgery, fertility treatments (all of which obviously added to some of the past years rough times) we are expecting our first Baby Girl in April! – 2015 is already looking up)

That Time I Preached

ThatTimeIPreached

So this happened… During our At the Movies series this past summer I was asked to preach for the first time (well technically the second but you’ll see).

*no copyright infringement intended. I do not own the rights to the movie clips or songs used. Without the clips from the movie half of the message would have been missed.

3 Years of Stage Design

ChurchStageDesign

A little over 3 years ago when I showed up at The Crossing Church. The stage looked something like this.
worship-1-3
Nothing inherently bad (outside the plethora of fake plants – half of which you can’t see in this picture). The floating crosses were a little strange looking but were part of a compromise from days past. Carpeted stage, strange gray carpeted cat-walk like thing protruding from the front.  Generally not too different from most churches like it.  After deciding that using the stage and design to help enhance our message we ventured into the design area.  We started with no budget and today we still only have a small one.  We did and do our best to use what we find around us, on craigslist, or repurpose what we can.

 

Continue reading…

3 Reasons to Consider Stage Design & 3 Reasons to Not

Church Stage Designs

A lot of churches are beginning to embrace the idea that a church platform can be visually engaging, enhance the room and message, and be a creative way to communicate with those who come through their doors.  We started toying around with the idea about 2 years ago and have seen the wonderful results from taking the time and energy to create spaces like this. We’ve had simple 3D paper mache letters on the front of our platform, a 16′ fishing boat, caution tape, giant LED light boxes and more (I mean obviously we’ve used Coroplast…).  We started small and continued to recycle what we could to created bigger elements.  Church Stage Design Ideas was a great place for us to get ideas and has great articles on this same topic – I highly encourage you to check them out.

Here are what I think are 5 great reasons to consider playing with the look of your stage.

1. It creates a visual environment. We all know culture is becoming more and more visual and while the Church shouldn’t always just give in to where culture is going and how it consumes, this is an area that the Church has been part of for most all of it’s history.  From stained glass windows, to cross shaped basilicas, to ornate decor on and around the stage and more, the church has seen a reason to create places that can transport someone to another world, or enhance the story they are telling with stunning visuals.  We are doing this more and more and the Visual Worship movement is spreading like wildfire.  The stage can be one of those elements, and I would argue should be.

2. It creates memorable ideas.  Sometimes creating a design around a sermon series can help someone recall or remember things from that series that they may have not otherwise.  Like I said earlier we had a 16′ fishing boat on stage for about a 6 week period.  People still remember that ugly green boat but most of all they remember what they took away from that series because they remember that boat.  We ask them about other ideas from other sermon series and it’s harder to recall for them.  It’s a Mnemonic device really.

3. It’s a great place for people to serve and volunteer. Think about the opportunity for those who like to work with their hands and like to build things, your creatives and designers who visualize things, and even those who don’t just want t place to serve.  The church should always be looking for ways to involve people in the church and finding ways they can serve.

3 Reasons to not consider stage design

1. It’s more about the creativity and design than about pointing people to Jesus.  I have fallen in this trap many times.  Sometimes is more about being cool than anything else.  Thats a great reason to stop or pause or not do it at all.  No matter how cool your stage is or how awesome things look let’s not forget the main reason we gather; to share the love and Grace of a great big God.  I’ve seen more ministry done on ugly stages than really pretty ones at times.

2. Your tradition and current environment is a extremely valued asset. Not every church needs to play with the look of the stage.  Some badly need to do so… (yeah burnt orange 70’s shag carpet stage… I’m talking to you).  But some places find comfort and importance in their “look” be it traditional or not.  It’s always important to think of what you are trying to communicate and how you are doing so.  That may lead to a realization that adding some Coroplast towers may take away from the ambiance that already exists.  Be smart, don’t do it just to do it, do it for a reason… one that you have poured over in prayer.

3. You’re doing it to be cool.  The church will never be as cool as MTV.  The church will never be cool no matter how hard we try.  That’s ok by me (some churches are cooler than others however… #JustSaying).  Like I mentioned above if you are doing it just to do it then you’ve missed something.   Actually all 3 of the “don’ts” could be summed but by saying, make sure you pray through the why.

Bonus: 4. Because you already have a bunch of ficus trees on stage.  Why would anyone ever think of changing that!!! Who would ever want to remove a ficus tree!!!