The new SolaSpot Pro1500 is an amazing LED-engine moving head. With an 8-45 degree zoom, a 400W LED engine and full effects and a very fast pan/tilt mechanism, it’s quite remarkable. And, it has a price that is remarkable as well. To learn more, visit their website.
Last week, I told you of a person who had a tremendous impact in my life. He recently went through a near-death experience and had significant medical bills to show for it. I asked you, the CTA audience, to help out. And help out you did! Within a few days, they have met the fundraising goal. As I look through the list of donors, I see many names I recognize and a lot I don’t. I was moved by the comments some made, and am so thankful for this community that has been created here.
So I just wanted to say thanks. I’ve heard from all his kids how touched and moved the whole family is because of your generosity. They are completely blown away that hundreds of people they don’t know, and who don’t know their dad would contribute to his recovery. Thank you.
It’s a great thing when we can be a blessing to others, and you have blessed Pastor Ron, his family and me. Thank you.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
By the way, you can still contribute to the medical expense fund. They’ve reached the goal, but what a great way to spread some more Thanksgiving cheer…
We’re all about LDI (or as we call it LEDI) this week. We talk about the cool new products we saw at the show. But don’t despair if you’re not a lighting guy—they weren’t all lighting products!
The F-165WW and E-190WW have been extremely popular and effective LED Fresnel and Leko-style fixtures, respectively. But for the venue that already has a solid installed base of dimmers, these new fixtures make 1:1 replacement easier than ever. By creating a power supply that works with line-voltage dimming, the new fixtures deliver the same great results we’re used to, without the hassle of switching to relays or running DMX everywhere. For more information, visit www.chauvetlighting.com.
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Last time, I told you the story of how I ended up in technical ministry. It’s really all due to my first Pastor, Ron Bohem. He recently suffered a medical emergency that nearly cost him his life. And it cost a lot to keep him here. I asked you to consider donating to his medical expense fund, and if you haven’t, go back and read that post, then help out. This blog exists in large part due to his influence in my life, so if you’ve ever learned anything from me, you can pay it forward by helping my friend Ron.
And, after reading this post, you can’t say you never learned anything because I’m going to share with you some things I learned about leadership from him.
When I began attending Western Reserve Grace Brethren Church—which we all called WRGBC or Grace for obvious reasons—they met in a middle school. Everything had to be brought in and out every week. Guess who was leading the charge? Pastor Ron and his family. I started attending in the summer, and I will never forget the first big snowstorm of the winter. I had a long drive, so I left plenty of time and got there early. It was blowing and snowing and freezing outside, and there was Ron, bundled up in a parka with his snowblower clearing the sidewalks so we could get into the building without tracking through snowdrifts.
A few years later, when we built our first building, the congregation was a bit larger, but the budget was still tight. He negotiated with the builder that we could do some of the labor. Again, Ron was right in the middle of it. He spent many days alongside other men in the church pulling cable through conduit, framing, painting and whatever else needed to be done. He didn’t just walk in, tell everyone they were doing a great job then leave, he worked with—and in many cases harder and longer—than the rest of us.
I’ve never forgotten that lesson. In my years as a TD, I always strived to be the fisrt one there and the last one out. I’m pretty sure no one on my team would tell you I worked less than they did. Whether it was a weekend service or a big event, I was there with them, getting dirty and sweaty, making sure we were getting things done.
This kind of leadership creates a team that will do almost anything. I know my guys and gals would have done anything for me, because they did. And I’m pretty sure it was because they knew from experience that I would do anything for them.
Empower High Capacity People
When I offered to start the student ministry, Ron said, “Go for it!” And while he gave me plenty of support, he largely stayed out of it. If he saw there was a better way I could be doing something, or someone I should meet, he told me about it. But he never micromanaged.
I led my tech teams the same way. When I came across someone who I knew had mad skills and a heart to do the right thing, I stayed out of their way. I resourced them as much as possible, and always stayed close in case they needed something. But when you find someone, paid or unpaid, who is good at their job, let them go! Chances are they will accomplish much more than you could.
Invest in People
While doing student ministry, Ron helped me get connected with other staff youth leaders in our district. He took me to conferences. The church paid to send my wife and I to the SonLife course one year, even though I know it was a huge stretch financially. He saw the value in helping people get better at what they do.
As much as I could, I tried to do the same for my staff. Through regular training, we raised everyone’s skill levels. I’ve paid to take my staff and volunteers to conferences when the church wouldn’t because I think it’s that important. Everybody wins when we all get better at what we do.
Ron is a lover of people. Which is good because I was likely pretty hard to love back then. I was a cocky 22-year old who thought he knew a lot more than he actually did. But he loved me through that, and gently shaped my thinking so I would be much more effective.
We often find people who are hard to love in our tech ministries. The type of people who gravitate toward tech are not usually the super outgoing, happy-go-lucky types. Instead, we tend to be introverted, quiet, smart (and sometimes pretty proud of that), and maybe even moody and dark.
In spite of all that, as technical leaders, we need to love people. This can be a challenge, because often we fit those descriptors pretty well ourselves. But never lose sight that it’s about people.
And sometimes it’s just about treating people well. I remember how Ron treated the crusty old electrician who wired our building. This guy didn’t like working for churches because he felt they were full of hypocrites. But Ron brought regular coffee and donuts, listened to him complain, and just genuinely cared for him. To this day, the way I treat outside contractors is influenced by what I saw there.
There are many more things I learned in the nearly 10 years we served together. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t take any credit for what is happening here at CTA or in the technical arts community in general. But his influence was great in my life, and as I said, it’s unlikely I would be doing what I am today were it not for the investment he made in my 20+ years ago.
And that’s why I’m not going to be shy in using my influence to again ask you to donate to his medical expense fund. Think of it as a small price to pay for what you learn here. Thanks in advance for helping out!
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ChurchTechArts readers, I need your help. It’s not very often I come to you with a request; for the most part, I simply share my thoughts with you. But today, I need you to pitch in and help a dear friend.
But before I get to the details of the request, I want to give you a little background on me. This is some of the “never before seen, behind the scenes footage” of the journey that brought me here.
I had an encounter with Jesus in the summer of 1988 and it changed my life. Not long after that, I got connected with a small church plant on the southeast side of the greater Cleveland, OH area.
This church met in a middle school cafeteria, and when I walked in the first time, there were about 70 adults there. I soon got to know all of them and still count many as friends to this day. Little did I know that my encounter with this church, and particularly the pastor and his family, would change the course of my life.
Pastor Ron Boehm had planted the church a few years earlier. We quikly became friends and about a year later when God called me to start a student ministry in the church (there were about 8 middle and high school students at the time), he encouraged and trusted me with pretty much the whole thing–despite the fact that I had virtually no experience.
As I lived 45 minutes from the city where the church met, and we had youth group on Sunday evenings, I began spending Sunday afternoons with the Boehm family. They truly welcomed me into their home and family and I learned a ton from all of them. Ron and I would often sit on the back porch after lunch and discuss ministry, theology, technology and occasionally Greek. I truly received my theological training from him.
After I moved closer, we began meeting every Wednesday for breakfast. We studied books, read the Bible and talked about life, ministry, theology and more. We met almost every week for 5 years. It was a blessed time for me. While I’ve learned a lot about ministry in the past 10 years of being on staff, the foundation was all laid by Pastor Ron.
In fact, the reason you are reading this website right now is in large part due to the fact that he was honest with me in the spring of 1993. We just had our first daughter, and I was feeling anxious to get off the road (I was doing corporate production at the time). Our little student ministry had grown to about 30 students, and I had about 4 other people working with me on the ministry. I felt a clear call to ministry and figured that the standard career path was to become a youth pastor.
But I also began to realize that I was really good at this tech thing. I noticed that I could build systems in my head, connect the dots and visualize how things would work almost effortlessly. I also realized not everyone could do that. I felt I was at a crossroads. So, at one of our Wednesday meetings, I laid it out for him. I asked him straight up, should I quit my job, go to seminary and become a youth pastor or find a way to serve God somehow using my technology skills.
I’ll never forget his answer. First he asked, “Do you want the truth?” I said, “Of course, that’s why I asked.” He responded with, “I think you’re really good at the tech thing, and you should continue doing that.” The die was cast.
Now, I didn’t know it at the time, but I’m now pretty sure he knew that his answer was going to cost him his youth guy. But he loved me enough to be honest with me.
About nine months later, I found myself starting the in-house video production group of our denomination’s Christian Ed department. And pretty much from that time forward, I’ve been somehow involved with a career that serves the Kingdom using my technology skills.
I was going to try to share with you some of the key things Ron taught me about leadership in this post, but this is going long, so I’ll save that for next time.
But here’s where you come in. Ron has been busy helping churches get planted all over Ohio for the last few years. He raises his own support and does an amazing job serving young church planters. He recently had a pretty scary medical emergency.
He suffered an abdominal aneurysm, which apparently, is a big deal. A very small percentage of people who have something like that even make it through surgery. He made it through two, and after 10 days in ICU, is home recovering. It’s truly a miracle, especially when you consider as the situation was developing, he passed out and hit his head on a sink also fracturing his skull (hence the nice shiner in the picture above).
As you can imagine, the LifeFlight, surgeries and 10 days in ICU did not come cheap. His kids have started a fund to help offset some of the medical expenses. I’ve made a sizeable donation as he had such a significant impact in my life. But there is a long way to goal to reach the goal.
So here’s the deal: About 14,000 people read this website monthly. If everyone gave a dollar, it would meet their goal; exceed it actually. If everyone gave up a Starbucks or a Caribou this week, we could really bless them.
Now, he doesn’t know I’m asking you guys to pitch in. And as I said, I almost never come to you for anything. But I’m not exaggerating when I say you would not be reading ChurchTechArts if it were not for the influence of Ron in my life. So if you’ve ever learned anything, been encouraged or found a better way to do something by reading this blog, it’s time to pay it forward.
Here’s the link to the GiveForward page they’ve set up. It takes under 3 minutes to donate, and I think this would be a great way for the Church to be the Church. I really want him to be able to focus on his recovery and not how they’re going to pay for it. What do you say, can you spare a fiver or a ten-spot? Go do it now so you don’t forget. And next time, I’ll share with you some of the leadership wisdom that shaped the last 10 years of my ministry. Thanks for reading this far, and thanks for helping my friend and Pastor, Ron Boehm. Give now.
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We’re back to audio! We set out to talk about mixing in mono, but end up with a great discussion on how stereo works as well as the importance of arrangements.
I got to spend some time last weekend training a bunch of volunteers of a church we were working with. It was a lot of fun for me to show up at a church where we just installed a new lighting console and see 8 guys standing there who wanted to learn how to run it. And this is in a church of under 1,000! As I was training, I got to thinking about something my former boss once said as we were discussing how we develop volunteers.
One day he was standing in my office and our conversation turned to developing volunteers. He said, “What we do in worship arts is so different from other ministries in the church. Most ministries get their volunteers to do their work for them. We spend a ton of time with our volunteers and do the work with them.” Think about that for a minute, then pause to consider what it means for our volunteer development programs. When our church leaders say we need to bring more volunteers into our ministries, we have a much tougher road ahead of us than most do. This is not to knock what other ministries do; on the contrary, I’m simply pointing out how different our ministry process is.
Consider children’s ministry as an example. To bring a new volunteer in to teach a Sunday school class (or whatever your church calls them), you might sit down with them, lay out the expectations, the rules and show them the teaching materials. You might give them a mentor to work with for a few weeks, but after a relatively short time, you send them down the hall to lead their class.
Now contrast that process with bringing a new FOH engineer on board. Taking someone from, “I’m interested in learning to run sound” to actually being able to run a service on their own can easily take a year, depending on the complexity of your system, your band, and services. Someone who has some experience may be able to get up to speed in a few months. Either way, you’ll spend a ton of time with that person one-on-one helping them learn the system, develop their skills and improve their mixes. Along the way, there may be mistakes that you’ll take heat for and you will probably spend dozens if not hundreds of hours with that volunteer.
Again, this is not to minimize what other ministries do; however bringing on a new FOH engineer or lighting tech is not the same as bringing on a new usher. That’s an important distinction to make when you start getting heat from leadership about why you don’t have more volunteers on your team. What we do takes a lot more time and investment; and the truth is there aren’t a whole lot of people in our congregations who even want to make that investment.
Now, none of this should dissuade us from wanting to develop volunteers. In fact, it should be one of our primary missions. It simply means we must be way more intentional about doing it, and we have to have the right expectations. We need to be the ones developing training programs, improving our systems to make them as volunteer-friendly as possible and keeping an eye out for people who have an interest in what we do.
It’s easy to get discouraged about all this, especially when you see other ministries having their fall kickoff with dozens new volunteers and you’re still struggling to get one or two up to speed. Just remember, what we do is hard. It takes a lot of time to become really proficient in the technical arts (not unlike musicians or vocalists), and we need to pour into those volunteers until they get there.
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The following is a guest post from Scott Carman, the Executive Director of Flexstage, a Visioneering Studio.
Recently, I had the pleasure of being a part of the SALT Conference in Nashville. SALT is a celebration of visual worship with some of the top talents in the industry. Just prior to this event, our friend, Stephen Proctor, put together A Night of Illumination. When I arrived at the event I truly had no idea how illuminating it would be.
The night was held in a space that was quintessentially Nashville while also being a great representation of its owner, a true artist. Stephen invited several people to share musically and through their words of encouragement and creativity. The evening culminated with Mike Sessler and Van Metschke recording their ChurchTechWeekly podcast with Stephen and some of the performers. During the podcast a question was posed about whether there is a difference between Design and Art. At that moment, God grabbed my attention and I contemplated this question through the lens of the evening and God’s heart for how the church is presenting His truths.
Is there really any difference between design and art? We tend to use the terms interchangeably. Often we will see a design and declare how artistic it looks. Just a few thoughts about the distinctions we should keep in mind when presenting God’s story.
Often, when we design graphics, a stage set or a building, we are seeing an artistic expression. Design asks everyone to have the same reaction or experience from interacting with it. Design seeks continuity of message and interpretation to maximize its proposed impact. Its purpose is to incite commonality in the response to its product. It is intentional. Interaction is most often external. In other words, design is for the head.
Conversely, art invites people to experience it and interpret it where they are in their lives and individually. It doesn’t demand or expect a singular view or right answer. Art has intention but its impact is often unintentional. Its purpose is to cause introspection and a personalization of response. Interaction is most often internal; art targets the heart.
Design has a demographic profile, art does not. Design is often created for sameness, to build a reaction over time. It likes continuity and creating a familiar-ness. Art is meant to change over time.
Art can be expressed through well-executed design; or can be facilitated by design. Keep in mind, when art becomes part of the design, we have chosen a specific interpretation or portion of the art to facilitate our designed message, a desired result aimed at a subsection of the populace.
Now, let me be clear, I don’t have any problem with design and do not place one above the other in this analysis. Our team spends most of every day “designing” the facilities and systems that will be the home to so many church goers. Design is critical to the “creation” process. The bible makes very clear when God says in Jeremiah 1:5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.” He designed us in His image. He goes on to say in the second half of the verse, “Before you were born I set you apart…” It is unspeakable joy that we can see His art fulfilled in each of us through the lives we live. This is God’s artwork expressed through the design.
Using this logic, design provides us the template within which art can be better expressed. This allows for some commonality of design across several different facilities. However, it does not need to be confined to sameness. The art is expressed through the unique story that you and your congregation present. God’s greatest beauty can be expressed through the art of this story.
There is room for both art and design in the creation of a church space or the implementation of an AVL design. The proper execution is accomplished only when we are honest about the intention of each in the space. Ultimately, we are only trying to convey the unique story that God has created in and through us. It is up to us to find the art in our story.
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I am often asked how I manage to get done all that I get done in a week. When I was a TD, people regularly asked me how I was able to work full-time at the church and have time to write this blog, produce a weekly podcast, attend trade shows and have a family. The short answer to that question is that I don’t really do much else besides work. And I do that because I enjoy it and because that’s how God made me. I have a very high capacity for getting a lot of things done.
But with that said, there is always room for improvement. And at some point, I’m going to want to slow down and do something besides work all the time. I came across this slide share quite some time ago, but it’s been sitting in my queue of things to write about. Having looked through it a few times, I thought it would be helpful to share, and of course, comment on.
Plan for Less Work Each Day
I love the quote from David Heinenmeier of 37 Signals (#2). Too many of us plan to accomplish 8-9 hours of work each day and go home feeling like we failed because we kept getting interrupted. This is especially true in ministry, when interruptions are really opportunities to serve people. But if we have committed ourselves—even mentally—to getting 8 hours of tasks done, we’re going to be frustrated, or working longer. Now, there are times when we really do need to put our heads down and power through, but if we leave ourselves some margin, we actually get more done and are happier in the process.
#5 Reminds us that multi-tasking kills our focus. Now I know most of you out there are severely ADD and will answer email, order materials for a project, schedule the tech team on PCO and upload the sermon. All at once. I’m guilty of this as well. But I can tell you, when I turn off distractions and focus exclusively on one thing, I get a lot more done. At work, I’m known to put my IEMs in, quit Outlook and Safari and just work on a design. After 2 hours, I’ve usually made incredible progress, and then I have time to check in on email. Give it a try.
Working Longer is Not Better
Study after study is showing us that working 9, 10, 12 or 14 hours a day is just not productive. After about 8, our productivity falls off to the point that we’re really better off going home. I remember a time when I had been at it for about 16 hours and was trying to patch a lighting system. I had the patch list on one computer and the plot on the other. I was so tired that I could look at the patch list, then to the plot and forget what fixture I was dealing with. It was time to go home.
Again, I get that there are times when we need to push through. But I know I get tired, slow and cranky when I work too long, and I’m not really helping anyone. Knowing that I have to get things done in 40 hours makes me work more efficiently, and I go home feeling a lot better.
John Maxwell reminds us in #20 that if we can get something done 80% as well by someone else, we should let them do it. Now, I know this goes against the grain of all my fellow perfectionists out there. But I can tell you that your standards are too high. I know mine are. For the vast majority of tasks, if something is done to 80% of our high standards, it’s still darn close to 100% for everyone else. So let it go and focus on the things only you can do (#18).
This may even mean getting a volunteer to do something you are currently doing. At my last church, I enlisted one of our most committed video directors to schedule the video teams. It wasn’t a ton of work each month, but he had a passion for video and the team, and did a great job of making sure we were staffed each weekend. In fact, in the four years he did that while I was there, I rarely even thought about it. Having that task out of my queue freed me up to do other things; like upgrade the system the team worked on.
What is your favorite time management hack?