Redefining Rest

With few exceptions, the tech guys I know are all blessed (or cursed, depending on the perspective) with a high work ethic. We all tend to live by the “get it done no matter what it takes” creed. That leads to long days, late nights and many weekends not taken off. Generally speaking, those are good traits. This country needs people who will work hard for a good cause. And since Sundays keep showing up with alarming regularity, a good tech guy or gal can be the difference between a service that connects people with God or one that’s distracting. 

The downside of this work ethic however, is that we almost never take time off to rest. I put myself in this category. I realized the other day that I haven’t taken a week off since March of 2014. That is way, way too long to be continually working. Sure, I’ve taken a long weekend here or a random day off there, but not an entire week. A full week is really what’s needed (sometimes more) to reset our internal systems to we can keep on going. But even when taking a week off, there is a problem.

Be Productive!

I keep hearing that phrase in my head. I want to be productive. And no matter how much I really just need to lay in bed until 9, enjoy a lazy morning and then take a hike through the woods, I have this clamoring to be productive and get stuff done. I want to build shelves in my closet, fix the gutter on the shower door, clean my office, move the website, reply to emails that are 5 months old (sorry if you’ve emailed me; I’m really behind…). I feel like I simply need to keep doing something. I need to rest, but I justify it by saying because it’s not “work,” I am getting rest. But I know it’s a lie.

Redefine Rest

Yesterday, I had a bit of a revelation. As I was struggling with how to spend my afternoon, it all of the sudden hit me that I need to re-think my time off. Instead of simply considering it time I’m not working—at my job—I need to create an actual goal I can accomplish. I’m task-driven. I like to figure out how I’m going to accomplish something and then do it. It’s why I’m good at my job. But it can be a problem when I simply need to chill out. Unless I redefine my goal.

Yesterday, it occurred to me that what I need to do is set a goal to rest. I need to remind myself that the point, the goal, the successful outcome of this week will be to get rest

I am tired. I have been running at a pace that is not sustainable and I need to do a better job of pacing myself. I need to take more regular breaks. I know all this. But the start of that process is to get some rest, plain and simple. So I decided that the only way I can consider this week a“success” is if I get a ton of rest. And that means not doing a whole lot. Sure, I’ll take some hikes, go to the range, spend a bunch of time in the kitchen with my wife and daughter and maybe I’ll even build those shelves. But the real goal of this week is to rest. All those tasks can wait.

You Need To Rest

Why am I telling you this? Partially it’s to keep myself accountable. When I put this out on the old inter-webs, it’s harder for me to start taking on a ton of work. But it’s also largely because I suspect there are some of you out there who need to hear this. You need a break. You need to give yourself permission to take a week off and sleep in. You need a whole week of doing nothing. But you struggle with it because you feel you need to be productive. 

So here you go; I give you permission to take a week off and rest. I’m following my own advice here; I was going to write this yesterday, but I went for a walk in the woods instead. Managed to get within about 12 feet of that deer up there. That was very relaxing. Except for my knees—they’re still sore... 

Relax, take time off, do things that are fun and restorative for you. The work will wait. Believe it or not, the world will keep on spinning even if we’re not there to make sure it does so on cue.

Today's post is brought to you by Elite Core Audio. Elite Core Audio features a premium USA built 16 channel personal monitor mixing system built for the rigors of the road. For Personal Mixing Systems, Snakes, and Cases, visit Elite Core Audio.

Why Make it Beautiful?

Image courtesy of

I recently happened across a discussion that was started by a pastor who was looking at the bland, white walls of their sanctuary with terrible acoustics and struggling with the why of making it look nice. Thankfully, he understood the need to fix the terrible acoustics. But he was legitimately struggling with the why of making the room look better than blank white. 

Now, as a technical artist, you might think my first thought would be to attempt to justify the need for a ton of LED lights, environmental projection and cool stage sets. And while I think there is a place for that, I didn’t go there first. My first thought was the great cathedrals of Europe. Then I thought of what the Temple of David must have looked like. I’ve seen some artist’s renderings of the temple, and it had to be amazing. 

Who Do You Worship?

Looking at those temples and cathedrals, one has to ask, “What is the motivation to create such an awe-inspiring structure?” In the case of the temple, David wanted to create a temple that was as amazing as God himself. That’s probably not possible, but he sure gave it a shot. The great architects and builders of Renaissance tried to build spaces that would put all who entered into a state of awe and wonder. They figured that since we worship a great, awesome and amazing God, the buildings where we worship should be great, awesome and amazing. 

When you enter such a building, or even see pictures of them, you can’t help but be inspired. The longer you spend in them, the more the Gospel story unfolds itself. Those architects were master story tellers and managed to tell a complete story with the building itself. And that doesn’t even begin to consider the artwork and paintings that often filled the space. 

Little White Boxes for You and Me

Fast forward to today and what do we have? White boxes. Instead of creating buildings that inspire wonder and awe, we build the cheapest, most boring church buildings we can. Well, not all of them, but many fit this description. Contrast this to the mall or the Vegas strip. If one were to evaluate what we value based on the time, energy and money we spend on the architecture, one would potentially come to the conclusion that we don’t really value our God much. 

Spend Money on Ministry!

The cry we often hear when it comes to not spending any money on the building is that we should be spending it on ministry instead. While I think spending money on ministry is a good thing, I think that argument is based on a fundamental lack of faith. The great cathedrals of Europe cost a small fortune to build, and often took a century to complete. But look at the results! Hundreds of years later, they’re still wonderful. 

Today, we live in the most prosperous nation in the world, and we scrimp and build our “houses of worship” with the lowest bidder. The Bible says God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He’s not really concerned about finances. Yet we pinch every penny and build the most boring, uninspiring building to worship the God who created the entire universe. Does anyone else see the disconnect there? 

Strike a Balance

Now, I understand we live in a different time and place. A $100 Million cathedral might not be the best idea today. However, our buildings don’t have to be ugly and boring. I think it’s more important to be intentional about creating a space for worship than it is to spend a lot of money on it. 

I travel to a lot of different church buildings and I’ve seen the ugly white boxes and I’ve seen buildings that are incredibly cool and welcoming that didn’t cost a fortune. It’s all about creating a space that is inspiring, calming, welcoming or engaging—depending on what you’re going for. It could be as simple as a few thousand dollars worth of ultra short throw projectors on those blank white walls (they’re good for something!). Or it could be a paint and some cool found objects arranged in a way that tells a story. 

Technology is Changing

A few years ago, every church that wanted to be “relevant” (in quotes because it’s been so over used I’m not sure it’s relevant any more) put up a bunch of moving lights, fired up the hazer and tried to do a rock concert every weekend. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, unless you do a terrible job of it. Or it’s not at all the culture of your church. Some of the best worship experiences I’ve had were in very simple, but very intentional rooms. They used technology—lights, haze, video, graphics—but that wasn’t the focus. You don’t have to go crazy. But you can make it beautiful. You should make it beautiful. It should match who you are as a church. And it should reflect the God who created the universe all around us. How’s that for some inspiration!

How Do I Get My Worship Leader To...

Image courtesy of wEnDy

Image courtesy of wEnDy

Last week at SALT, I had the great opportunity to lead a panel discussion called, “The Same Kind of Different as Me.” The premise is that we have all these different creative disciplines working in the church—music, tech, media, programming and such. From the outside, those teams all get lumped together as the “creatives.” We’re all viewed as somewhat weird by the “normal” folks of the church. 

But internally, we are each a bit different. Musical and technical artists are perhaps the greatest example of this. While they are both completely dependent on each other, they can also be at odds with each other. One of the most frequent questions I receive on this subject is a variation of, “How do I get my worship leader (or tech person) to do what I want?” My answer usually surprises them; I typically ask, “When was the last time you went out to lunch with them?” 

Great Production Comes From Great Friendships

The best services, special events and even corporate gigs I’ve been a part of were all ones where I truly enjoyed working with everyone else on the event. When you are really good friends with your worship leader, something changes in the way worship happens. When you two don’t get along, everyone knows. They may not know that you don’t get along, but they know something is wrong. 

But when there is a deep level of friendship, mutual respect and admiration between tech and music, worship is better. That takes work, but it’s so worth it. 

It’s Not Complicated

Building a great relationship with your counterpart is not complicated, but it can be hard. Depending on how strained the relationship might be, you may need to bring in some help. But if you’re like most teams, and you’ve just never thought about it, start with food. Food makes everything better. There is something magical about breaking bread with someone that automatically deepens a relationship. That’s why so many first dates are over dinner. Food brings people together. 

If you’re struggling with some issues with your tech guy (or worship leader) go out to lunch with them. Not with an agenda to try to fix it, just go eat a great burger together. Not the same burger. That would be weird. You get the idea. Go to lunch and ask them about their family. If they don’t have one, ask them about their guitar, where they grew up, what music they like, what movies they enjoy, maybe even what sports they follow. Get to know them, you know, like you would another human being. Crazy, right?

Do this for a few months, then start talking about how you can work together to develop a better team. 

Get Out of the Booth, or Off The Stage

One of the best things you can do to build relationships is to leave your comfort zone, and meet someone in theirs. For tech guys, that means get out of the booth and be on stage when the band arrives. Ask them about their week, help them set up, and find out a little more about them. Do this for a few months and you will have a great relationship with your musicians. Music guys, get off the stage once in a while and go hang out in the booth. Ask the team there how they are doing. Get to know them. We will all serve each other better when we’re friends. 

Just Talk To Them

My friend Dave Stagl said it best one time on a podcast some years ago. We were talking about how to help drummers play to the room. A bunch of suggestions were offered then Dave piped up and said, “I don’t know, how about walking on to the stage and talking to them like they’re a human being.” In the pressure of getting a service ready, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the people there are simply filling a role. We can forget that they are human beings with feelings, struggles, hopes and dreams. When we treat them like a role, we will not get the results we want. 

But when we address them as real people, things change. Yes, this is harder and takes longer than just issuing edicts from on high. However, the results are much better and long-lasting. And besides, who doesn’t love a good burger?

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