New WCON Video Announcements

I know I posted this video last week within another post but I wanted to give it it’s own post to share it. We were very excited to launch our new video announcements here and after some planning, and production we were ready to launch what you see below. We created an intro and outro that will remain constant while the announcements in between will change week to week. We plan to change the host of the intro and outro about once a quarter to keep it fresh. We also have in the plans to create more commercial like spots (see Hillsong Church News) as we gather footage from events and continue to challenge ourselves to produce new and creative content.

Enjoy

The intro was a template I customized from videohive.net the music beds were created from loops, royalty free music, as well as one track from seeds.churchonthemove.com.

(I make my cameo for the Night of Worship promo ha ha)

Countdown to Day 1

Well I have been pretty quiet lately. Not because I forgot to blog but simply my life has been beyond crazy and I just haven’t been able to find the time. Part of the deal with accepting the position an my new church was for them to allow me to take a little longer to get there due to my commitment to our Easter season at my now former church. We had a big production planned for Palm Sunday (and the Saturday night before) and then Holy week services followed up by Easter then a Uhaul truck ride across country. It was a very busy time to say the least.

Because of the grace extended from my new church to allow me to stay longer than what they may have wanted and what would be normal in a situation like this, the timing made it so that I would have to work the first weekend. I spent the first two days in a Uhaul driving from Tennessee to Colorado, had staff meeting Wednesday morning and a special rehearsal Thursday night. In between all that I was learning all the things you need to know when starting at a new place, unpacking and setting up my office, trying to plan out services and meeting so many new people that I can’t keep names straight yet.

And now it is Saturday morning, only hours before my first worship service with my new faith family (and a few band member I will be meeting for the first time hours before service). I felt more underprepared for Thursday’s rehearsal than I have in a long while – afterward I felt much better but still a little scattered. Tonight and tomorrow morning are going to be great and I am just thankful to be a part. God has called me to begin a new chapter in the life of my family. While I know it won’t always be smooth and easy, I do know that God has prepared this way for us and we follow.

It’s Starting to Get Very Real

We have known about this move for a little while now. But it’s honestly just felt like talk. I have been so focused on rehearsing for our Easter Production that the new job talk has been just talk. It wasn’t till I got home from rehearsal last night that I had that first real moment. I saw the for sale sign in the front yard of what is honestly our dream house that we built. I pulled into the driveway, stopped short of pulling in the garage and audibly sighed as a multitude of thoughts ran through my head. Memories of living here for 9 years, thoughts of what’s to come, and fear of trying to sell a house. I’m sure I will have many more of these moments as time goes on.

We are excited about this new season in our life and so happy to join a faith family in Denver who wants to see their community know the Love of God. We are thankful for our time we have spent here with our friends and family. Even still a sign in the front yard floods the mind with every thought imaginable. The audible sigh was one of joy and sadness, excitement and bereavement.

Worship Pastor in Transition: From Columbia TN to Denver

It is hart to first identify the stirring in your heart. There is a number of different ideas that go through your head as to what it could be.

“Is there more I should be doing here?”
“Is God calling me on to another ministry?”
“Is God calling me out of ministry?”
“Is God suggesting we use more harmonium in worship?”
“Is God letting me that I shouldn’t have eaten 2 gas station burritos?”

I wasn’t looking for another job. I was very comfortable where I was. I was happy with a great job, a new house, good marriage, and wonderful ministry. And that is when it started, right when I was finally hitting my stride. I worked hard to convince myself that it was a stirring to do greater things where I was – to grow my ministry, to figure ways to better the situation in which I was serving. I spent most of my daily prayer just asking for guidance over and over. I kept asking God to identify that stirring inside me.
Continue reading…

Announcement Time in Service: Friend of Foe

This is how we have moved from the dreaded awkward moment at the beginning of service where the youth pastor or some other unlucky person at bottom of the totem pole talks about postponing the carry-in dinner for sister Midlred. Ok it is not that bad, in fact I have been to many churches who have a cool looking guy with a graphic tee and thick rimmed glasses delivers the announcements with a charisma that engages every last person in the room. Anyway announcement time is important to help get information out but can also be a tricky time in service. It can be awkward at times as well as disruptive to flow. Here are our morning announcements now done in video form that play before service starts. It’s come a long way from the first attempt but probably still has a long way to go yet it has done a great job for us getting information out, bettering our start time consistency, and creating a better start to the flow of our worship services.

*yes the green screen shots are not great – they are older and I haven’t re-shot them yet – but soon.

The 5 Guitar Players You Meet at Church

I have played on a number of worship teams and led a few different ones as well.  In my experience you tend to run into similar characters everywhere you go.  For some reason you run into the same type of people wanting to play guitar at every church you go to.  So here is a quick list (over-generalized and over-stereotyped for more comedic effect) of what to look for next time you are auditioning a new guitar player for your worship team.

The Modern Hippie – You’ll find this guitar player standing bare foot (no matter the temperature) on stage with an acoustic guitar slung around the neck.  Rough jeans with holes in the knees and back pockets help detract attention away from the bed-head hairdo with or without dreads.  Don’t be mistaken, this is a very talented individual who can probably play chords that involve dislocating 3 out of 5 fingers.  Their proficiency however can be masked by their inability to play well with others at times (they live and exist in their own world).  Also notice the absent minded approach to life as they will often show up to rehearsal or service missing guitar cables, a strap, or a tuner – that is if they remember when they need to be there in the first place.  It’s nearly impossible to gauge their commitment level but if you can deal with the eccentricities, they are a great guitar player to work with.

Continue reading…

Contemplative Creativity: A Year in Review

It’s been a good year.  Basically I started blogging right at the beginning of 2010 and have been learning and trying to get better at it ever since.  Like any blogger, new or old there have been some good posts, and some not so good posts.  I look forward to the coming year and what all it may bring.  But for now here are some of my favorite posts from the past year.  I hope you enjoy/enjoyed them as well.  And please share them if you feel so led and leave your thoughts and comments.  I would love to hear them.

10 Things Every Worship Leader Wishes their Sound Person Knew, and Vice Versa

Creating Worship Space with Light

5 Reasons for a Choir in Modern Worship

5 Reasons Worship Bands Should Use Click Tracks

I Gave Your Tip to Jesus and Other Things Not to Tell Your Server

Confessions of a Worship Pastor

Lessons Learned from Conan O’Brian

Sunday Brunch: A Guide for Christians Going out to Eat

I’m not Religious, I’m not Spiritual, I’m a Christian

Environmental Projection: Take 1

Creativity on a Budget

Sometimes I envy the churches and organizations that seem to have endless budgets to produce great creative things. Sometimes it would be nice to come up with an idea and be able to just run with it without worrying about budget restraints. I can think of a number of great ideas that have come out of our creative team meetings that have been put on hold cause we can’t figure out ways to make them happen with the resources we have available. But then I think of all the creative things we have been able to accomplish with just a little ingenuity. I think restraints can sometimes make you more creative. We don’t have a very large budget overall but with some creative minds pulling together we have produced some incredible things that we never imagined possible. So don’t let anything hold you back from making great things happen. Plus what you learn from this endeavor you take with you to the next. And as your resources grow your creativity has as well.

just some quick thoughts rolling around my head because of a recent project that is turning out really cool just had to get creative as to how to make it happen. Sorry, not a real practical post more ramblings that wouldn’t fit on twitter.

Work Smarter Not Harder

If you are like me you work at a church where your media department is comprised of… well… you (and some wonderful volunteers).  But you probably don’t have a technical director (full or part time), graphic designers, web designers, dedicated adobe gurus, or a plethora of other technically specific job titles on staff (full or part time).  Do you want to know a secret?  Neither did Lifechurch.tv, Granger Community Church, Church on the Move, Willowcreek, and others when they started.  In fact I remember a conversation I had with one of the Video Producers at Granger who had been there since the beginning.  He said he remembered a time when they used a coat hanger and a thick black fabric to black out the projectors (like a low budget puppet show – are there high budget puppet shows?)  So what do you do when you desire the highest quality product but lack the time and major resources to pull it off?  Here are 5 things to help you work smarter not harder to achieve that goal.

1. Set short term goals and do whatever you can within your budget to achieve them.  So all you can afford is photoshop instead of the whole production suite.  It’s a start.  Remember rome wasn’t built in a day.  Once progress has been made people should begin to notice and hopefully the next budget will be a little bigger and the next goal will be a little better.  It may seem like a linear process at the start but trust me it’s exponential and before you know it your media department will be hopping.

2. Try before you buy and be budget conscious.  Let’s face it Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Final Cut and many other high end programs have more capability built into them then you may ever be aware of.  Luckily most of them let you try them first.  You may find that you media team isn’t ready for after effects yet and that it would be bad stewardship to purchase it now.  Maybe you can get by with Final Cut Express for the time being or a free online photo editor.  Be smart with your resources and work your way up.

3. Get Training.. either pay for it through an online company like Lynda.com or utilize the many free tutorials you can find online.  There is no wasted creativity.  Even if you follow a tutorial you don’t think you’ll ever use, you will be suprised at what it will inspire later or the processes you will use later.

4. Utilize your volunteers.  You will be surprised by the talent just sitting in the seats on Sundays.  Get volunteers, have them utilize your training resources, get more volunteers, and get them trained and before you know it you will be inspired, challenged, and able to delegate larger projects because of them.  Plus you may also find some people with programs you couldn’t afford.  I have a theory in my music department that I think translates well to the technical and creative arts as well (remember we are understaffed so I do all the media, tech, and music…).  The better the end product the better talent you will attract.  When we produce great music we attract better musicians.  When you put out better videos and print material people will notice and be attracted towards that thus widening your talent and volunteer base (it’s a slow process but it does work).

5. Work smarter not harder (can I actually title number 5 with the reason the list is being made?).  Don’t be afraid of templates, prefabricated works, and more.  They are your friend.  Trust me.  When you are understaffed time is money and spending 30 hours a week on an After Effects intro isn’t a wise way to spend your ministry and personal time.  Yes it will look amazing but what are you neglecting to do so?  An amazingly awesome graphics package and poster are in the end just graphics and a poster.  Budget your time wisely.  If a template looks great with an hour of tweaking then great use it!!!! And use the rest of your time accomplishing other ministry goals.  Here are some great sites I use for templates (cheap to free), inspiration, and more.  Use them!

themeforest.net
videohive.net
CreativeMYK.com
Churchmediadesign.tv
Open | Lifechurch.tv
Seeds | Church on the move

What sites do you use?  Let’s compile a great list of resources to help the smaller church media teams.  Creativity can make God’s Word come alive and spread God’s Love in ways that other mediums cannot.

I Was Saved at a Puppet Show

No, really! You didn’t misread that, it is 100% true. I know, I know it can’t be, say it ain’t so, please tell me you are joking. Nope, sorry it’s true. I was 7 years old and with my family at Creation, a huge Christian music festival in Pennsylvania, and spending the afternoon in the children’s tent. Now also remember this was some time ago so even though they weren’t any cooler then puppet ministries were much more prevalent than what I hope is true today. But nonetheless something moved me and here I stand today.

I tell you that as a reminder that the church can try as hard as possible to be as cool and relevant and as much like MTV or whatever the kids watch these days, and it is completely and utterly powerless to truly impact and change lives. We are powerless to change hearts without the Spirit. That is why cheesy, hokey, out-dated, [place your adjective here] programs, churches, and events are still effective.

Grant-it I do believe we need to do our best to ministry to those around us (which also means this trend of just copying what other churches have found successful is not a good model for churches use – what worked for them may not be the best way for your ministry to function). I believe in ministry that speaks appropriately to the culture it is trying to reach. But I think it important that we be sympathetic to others who are striving to reach others even though we may not agree with the way in which they are going about it.

So the next time you find yourself at a church where a little old lady is playing hymns on an out of tune piano or a youth ministry playing the worlds cheesiest ice breaker games or anything you would cringe at if ever it were suggested you incorporate into your ministry remember, we are powerless to change peoples lives through our own power and actions.