Old Production Takes From an Old Guy

Month: December 2014 (Page 2 of 2)

Coming Into a New Church, Pt. 2

PHOTO COURTESY OF  Richard Stephenson

PHOTO COURTESY OF Richard Stephenson

In this mini-series, we’re talking about how to successfully transition from one church to another. Last time, I set up an all-to-common scenario of a young guy who finds himself in a successful, growing church and is now suddenly in demand from other churches. He goes, tries to duplicate that “success” only to find he was really just in the right place at the right time last time around. That’s one possibility. But I think this advice is useful for anyone who is transitioning into a new staff situation. Much of this I have learned over 25+ years of ministry, both technical and not (I was a student ministry guy before becoming the tech guy). This wisdom was passed on to me by older, wiser guys and hopefully, I was smart enough to follow it.

Make No Big Changes for Six Months

This phrase was drilled into me during my six years in student ministry. As the average tenure of a youth pastor was (and I think still is) about 18 months, there is a tremendous desire to get in and make a big impact quickly. The same is true of tech guys. By nature, many of us are problem solvers and fixers. So we see things that are broken and immediately want to fix them. My advice to you is slow down. Leadership change is very stressful for a team, don’t make it more so by throwing out a bunch of changes right away. If you have critical equipment that is broken, fix it. But don’t completely revamp the entire structure your first month.

Get to Know the People First

You really need to get to know the people you will be working with before you start changing things up. Find out their strengths, weaknesses and what they would like to see changed. And when I say, “the people,” I mean the staff, leadership and your team. Begin to find out what the pain points are, and start formulating ways to alleviate them. But don’t mistake your new job as a way to showcase your mad skills. You are there to serve the body of that church. Make sure you serve them.

Check Your Ego at the Door

This is a corollary to the previous point. There are fewer ways more effective in alienating people than to constantly tell them how great you are and what an amazing team/band/stage/facility/job you had at your last church. Be humble. Be willing to listen to your new team. Who knows, you may even learn something new! As we learned last time, “Just because it worked, doesn’t mean you’re always right.” 

Learn the Culture

Every church is unique. What works for one may not work for another. Of course, there are some best practices that are fairly transferrable, but you often have to customize what you are doing for each congregation. That goes for everything from style of mix to how to schedule the team. Some churches have no problem finding willing and talented volunteers. Others have a terrible time with that. Make sure you know the culture of your new church before you go trying to turn it into your old church. 

In the last 15 years, I’ve transitioned into five different churches. In each case, I tried to follow my own advice. In each case, I was able to win the hearts and minds of the staff and my teams, I made many positive changes and left the churches in better shape than I found them. That’s not arrogance talking, that’s just what happened. But here’s the key; none of the those churches was the same, so I adapted my methods for each. Significant changes were made in each case, but hopefully in a way that left everyone feeling pretty good about it. 

So don’t be that guy—that guy who comes in, makes big changes and blows everybody up just because you got lucky once. Take your time, get to know the people and culture and make the changes that are appropriate for that setting. Everyone will be better off in the end if you do.


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Coming Into a New Church, Pt. 1

I’ve been thinking about this topic for quite some time now. There is a phenomenon happening in the Church right now that is probably not new, but it’s the first time I’m seeing it as widespread as it is. Larger churches are hiring young guys for key positions and getting rid of the old guys. Often, the only qualification the young guy has is that he or she happened to be part of another church that was going through a huge growth spurt. 

What tends to happen next is quite heartbreaking. The young guy comes in, starts throwing their newly acquired weight around and either fires or causes all the older, experienced guys to leave. In the  process, volunteers become disillusioned and leave as well. What was once a thriving ministry is left in tatters. 

Now, one could make the case that it is necessary to cut off the old, dead branches every so often so that new growth can occur. And I agree with that. There are times when people need to be moved on to new areas of ministry. There are times for change. Heck, I’m a change agent. I love change. But the way this happens is often quite harmful. 

Then the other day, lo and behold, as I was driving home, I happened to be listening to Leo Laporte’s Triangulation podcast. It’s one of my favorites because he always interviews such interesting people. On this show, he had the chief engineer for the Mars Rover Curiosity program. This is a pretty smart guy, as you might expect. He’s been a part of NASA for over 40 years and has an incredible resume. He said something near the beginning of the show that perfectly summarized what I’ve been thinking about. 

“Success is a terrible way to learn something because you get arrogant. Just because it worked, doesn’t mean you’re always right. Being good means being humble and willing to accept new ideas.” —Rob Manning, Chief Engineer for Mars Rover Curiosity. 

Go back and read that again because it’s really quite profound. So often, we find ourselves in a situation where everything just worked. And it’s easy to get the idea that it is our brilliant ideas that are making things click so well. When a new church starts growing like crazy, it’s leaders start getting invited to speak at all the conferences, as if they suddenly discovered previously unknown truths in church growth. The reality is, at least part of their success was due to being at the right place at the right time. 

The even greater danger is when younger members of the staff of those churches—kids and student ministry guys, tech directors, worship leaders—decide that they must be a rock star because their ministry grew so much under their leadership. I resisted the urge to put quotes around a bunch of words in that sentence. Those rock stars then get the idea that they can duplicate that performance anywhere. And when they’re hired on to a new staff, they immediately set about trying to turn the new church into the old church. It seldom goes well. Within a few years, they move onto another church, frustrated that no one at church #2 saw the brilliance of their leadership, and mad because their track record is damaged.

I’ve seen this happen at dozens of churches all over the country; and it’s probably happening more. So here’s my advice to you if you’re coming into a new church—don’t be that guy. 

Now that I’ve set up the scenario, next time, I’ll lay out some specific pieces of advice that might just save you and your new ministry.


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Is Christmas an Inconvenience?

Photo courtesy of   Peachhead (2,000,000 views!)

Photo courtesy of Peachhead (2,000,000 views!)

As I sit here on Nov. 30, I’m realizing this will be the first December in about 10 years that I haven’t been going crazy gearing up for Christmas. It’s a good feeling, to be honest, though part of me is a little unsure of what to do, what without a Christmas production or series of service to produce. But I remember it well. And I remember being frustrated at the time commitments Christmas puts on a TD. So I’m dusting off a post I wrote a few years ago that I hope will encourage you as you go through a very busy season. 

If I’m honest, I often feel quite inconvenienced at Christmastime, especially when Christmas falls on the weekend. While most get to spend the day with family and friends, we church techs will spend it in the tech booth, or preparing for the next service. While our church body enjoys a morning with their family at home, opening presents and having breakfast, I’ll be at work rehearsing for the service. And after everyone else is home, I’ll be tearing out rental gear. My family will not not see me as much as they should. 

And if I’m really honest, I get a little tweaked that most of the church staff will be off over Christmas weekend, while I’ll be there from early in the morning until late at night. The week leading up to Christmas, rather than being filled with last-minute shopping and getting all the final details set for my family’s Christmas, will be filled with hundreds of last minute details as I prepare for the services of the weekend.

As I was praying—well, if I’m still being honest, I was complaining—to the Lord about this the other day he reminded me of something. And while it was a gentle, heartfelt reminder, it hit me more like a splash of ice cold water on a hot day. The reminder was this: It wasn’t really terribly convenient for Jesus to come here, being born as a baby, growing up in our sin-infested world and ultimately dying on the cross for my sin. 

Oh, right…

That’s one of those perspective changers that I really need during Christmas. You see, while I am at heart a servant, I very much prefer to serve others on my own terms. When I have to serve people on their terms, I tend to get annoyed. But it’s the words of the Apostle Paul that snap me back to a better reality. 

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! 

Philippians 2:5-8

After that little attitude re-adjustment, the Lord reminded me of a truth that I often forget: It is not what you get from life that brings joy, but what you give. 

Now, I’m still a work-in-progress on this front. But I’m trying to remind myself of those truths this week as the days get long, the work is hard and I sometimes feel like I’m at this all alone. In just a few days, literally thousands of people will stream through our doors and hear the story of the birth of Jesus—perhaps the most amazing story ever told. And I get to be a big part of telling that story. 

Yes, it’s a lot of work, yes my hand still hurts from that cut, and yes I go to bed sore every night. But I go to sleep in a warm, soft bed, not in a feeding trough. And I cut my hand because I wasn’t paying attention, not because someone whipped me with a cat-of-nine-tails. 

So rather than focus on what a huge inconvenience Christmas is for me, I’m trying to focus on the reason we’re going through all this work in the first place. May Jesus be ever more clear, present and real in your celebration of Christmas this year. It is His name on the day, after all!


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3D Printing Comes to the Pro Audio Industry

A few months back, I wrote a review of my new UE Reference Monitors. They sound fantastic and as far as I can tell, are very accurate. Besides the strides UE is making in terms of audio technology, they are also investing in a great new manufacturing process. Earlier this year, I took you on a photo essay tour of their shop. At that time, most everything was being made by hand, including the shells. Fast-forward to the present and things have changed. Rather than casting a mold of the impressions of an artist’s ear, then creating the shell in that mold, they have gone all 21st century. 

The process still begins with an impression of the inside of your ear, but from there, it’s all very high-tech. A 3D scanner creates a 3D model of the impressions in short order. The 3D model is fed into a proprietary software package and the same technicians who once sculpted physical molds are now doing the same thing, only virtually. After about 20-30 minutes of tweaking the model, it is ready to print. 

Again, using a proprietary process, a laser cures a very thin layer of resin at a time. They tell me each layer is about .1 mm thick. The shells are created on a platform full of holes that sits in a bath of the resin. The laser cures a layer of each shell (they can do up to 40 at a time), and a bar pushes a fresh layer of resin over the whole thing. The laser fires up for another pass and the whole process repeats, .1 mm at a time until the shells are ready to be pulled. 

After a little clean up, they are placed in a UV curing oven to fully cure the shells. After minimal buffing and polishing, the shells are ready for their electronic components. The whole process now takes just a few hours. 

UE is installing 3D scanners at various offices around the world, which means that an artist could get a set of impressions in say, Japan, and the scan can be sent almost instantly to the Irvine office and a set of monitors made in a few hours. 

Mike Dias, Sales Director at UE, told me that the goal is to cut the turn around time down to 1-2 days. The 3D process is a big step in making that happen. Because it’s repeatable and predictable, waste is reduced, as is re-work. They’re not quite to the 1-2 day goal, yet, but the process is quicker than ever. The fit of the monitors is also improved; something I can vouch for. My RMs fit even better than my UE7s that were made a few years ago the old way. 

It was cool to watch the shells being made. I’m a sucker for new technology and love to see advances making things better. You can see the whole line of UE monitors at pro.ultimateears.com.


Today’s post is brought to you by CCI Solutions. With a reputation for excellence, technical expertise and competitive pricing, CCI Solutions has served churches across the US in their media, equipment, design and installation needs for over 35 years.

CTW LDI 2014 Coverage: Roland M5000 Mixer

OK, so it’s not a lighting product. But LDI was the first time we were able to get eyes on the new M5000 mixer and the new OHRCA platform. With 128 processing paths, a full configurable architecture and a very aggressive price point, the M5000 will be a mixer to contend with. Here’s a high-level overview. To learn more, visit http://proav.roland.com/OHRCA/.


Today’s post is brought to you by Heil Sound. Established in 1966, Heil Sound Ltd. has developed many professional audio innovations over the years, and is currently a world leader in the design and manufacture of large diaphragm dynamic, professional grade microphones for live sound, broadcast and recording.

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