God Sees Your Service

Even though I am not currently serving on a tech team, this post made me cry. Mike Sessler hit the nail on the head with this one and I wanted to repost it because it was just so good. His post is in between the separators.

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One problem with serving behind the scenes is that you are, by definition, invisible. Most of the time, we technical artists are OK with that.

A big part of the problem with serving behind the scenes is that you are, by definition, supposed to be pretty much invisible. Most of the time, we technical artists are OK with that. We’d rather not be the ones on stage, talking to the crowd; or even in a big room full of people if we’re honest. We like to be in the background, and that’s OK. But there’s a problem with being invisible.

We tend to feel invisible, too.

I’m sure it’s happened to you (and if it hasn’t, it will) on a Sunday afternoon that while you’re picking up the stage, eager congregants will come up and tell the worship leader, band and pastor what a wonderful job they did. They’ll go on and on about how much they love to worship, and how much they got out of the message.

This is all good. But it can sting a little, too. We know that we helped make the service happen. Shoot, we may have even made the band sound a lot better than they really are (reverb covers a multitude of sins, and sometimes turning down a guitar is better than turning it up).

We made sure the pastor’s slides were made—and displayed at the right time. All the mics worked exactly the way they were supposed to. The lighting complemented the music, and the service was technically excellent.

And nobody noticed.

Those are the times when we don’t enjoy feeling invisible. It was after one of those weekends that I happened to be reading through a passage in Mark 9. One verse in particular caught my attention and re-framed my perspective (the Bible is cool like that). I take comfort in the fact that God notices when people give a cup of water to someone in the name of Christ (Mark 9:41).

Surely he notices the hours we put in working on the mix, the lighting, or slides. No doubt he sees and is pleased with what you do each weekend.

Somebody does indeed notice.
So take courage, my fellow technical artist. Just a few verses later, Jesus reminds us that, “Many who are the first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:31).

Maybe, just maybe, those who received all the praise in this life will be surprised by the praise those who served in the shadows receive in the next.

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Usually when people notice us (technical artists), its to tell us something was bad, we made a mistake and/or the sound was too loud. Next Sunday, I challenge you to try and notice the good things. Take time and notice your church’s tech team every once in a while.

Send them a thank you card. Make them brownies. Bring breakfast early one Sunday morning. Notice something positive about the lights (something as simple as the pretty matching colors) or the sermon slides and thank them for their hard work. It would mean so much to us, even though we like being unnoticed and are naturally not drawn to the spotlight, we need encouragement from the body of Christ.

Strategy?! Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That!

If you find that you “ain’t got time for that” then I encourage you to make time. This is so important and should actually help guide you in some way, shape or form towards a more developed communications strategy. I want to share with you some steps I have had to learn over and over again when figuring out how to develop and carry out a strategy. These are by no means perfect and I am sure compared to some of the experts, I have left out something. The cool thing about these steps is that I can use them constantly. I have to remember that communications strategy is an ongoing process,

# 1. Your vision – Make it known.

This is the most important step. Without a vision, nothing is communicated. Clarify, cast and integrate your vision.

#2. Your Priorities – What is important?

Separate what is important into levels. (Yes, everything is important but if you don’t set priorities then everything becomes important, which in turn makes nothing important.) Communications levels can be decided by the team in the order of importance. Use verbiage like “Big Days” would always let me know what was a level one. Levels can be decided into examples like this:

Level One:  Easter, Christmas Eve/Day, Giving, Vision Casting, etc. Its going to be something that is going to impact at least 80-85% of the church.

Level Two:  VBS, Student Camps, D-Now’s, Men/Women’s events, Promotion etc. A major ministry event that is aimed toward a large majority of your people.

Level Three:  Women’s Bible study, Men’s breakfast, Celebrate Recovery, etc. This pretty much is everything else. Things that are reoccurring throughout the year.

#3. Your Channels

What communication channels are most important? You should choose between 2-4 channels. (Social media – you should start out with 2-3 channels of this as well – blog, newsletter, email, announcements, etc.) This should be based on your vision and overall audience. (Note: I italicized two very important ones. You’re welcome!)

#4. Your Audience – Who you talking to?!

Whose is your audience? Make sure to have this written down.

#5. Your End Result – See, what had happened was…

Did this turn out the way you initially wanted? Identify what you want the win to be and then use that to measure your results.

#6. Adjust

This just means to start over and constantly have this process being followed throughout your church or organization.

My Go-To Books.

communications_gotolist

A lot of my learning I gained from reading books and learning from others.  I created this list of books for anyone involved in not only church communications, but ministry in general. Each of these books will definitely help you communicate your church’s vision and message with intentionality, with simplicity, and overall with effectiveness. I know they have definitely helped me.

–> Check out My Go-To List of books <– What books would you add? 

Your New Ministry Job.

Hand-ShakeThe first month as the ____ pastor/director/minister/associate at a new church I think can be one of the toughest months as you get to know the congregation, learn the culture, and try to figure out how things work. You get all sorts of people coming up to you with smiling faces and firm hand shakes, telling you their names and after a while it sounds like the all familiar teacher from Charlie Brown – “Whon whon wha wha whooon.”

If you’re in worship ministry, you may get tons of emails of people within the congregation wanting to do ‘new’ songs. (Looking at the bright side…your iTunes library will grow with free mp3’s that were attached to all those emails). If you’re in outreach or small groups ministry, you may get phone calls and  ‘surprise’ visits from people who want to know what you’re all about and what makes you the right person for the job. (Questions like: “Why did the other guy really leave?” “Have you ever worked with my type of small group; I just started it” “What is the most exciting mission trip you have been on?”) All questions to get to know who you are. Be confident. Be prepared. If you’re in Youth ministry, you get to meet parents and teens. And you sometimes may get extremely varied responses. Some teens may look at you like you’re their long-lost best friend. Others act like you shot their puppy and then ran over him with your car. Some parents may give you the pleasure of awkward conversations about their teen dealing with [insert issue here]. Some parents will want to be involved with your planning and want to sit in the back every week and meet with you to give you their encouraging critiques [do those words go together?]. No matter what areas you come into, ultimately, you have to learn the rhythm of the church. [Where to put forms, what drawers in the kitchen you must never touch under any circumstances, etc.]

The worst part, though, is that a lot of times you just don’t know what to do! It’s a weird contradiction. You simultaneously have a whole lot to do and very little to do. How? Well, you don’t have a daily routine of things to get done, but you have a lot of “newbie steps” to do that can seem overwhelming.

So, what do you do in the first few months at a new church? Let’s go through some of them so that things can go a bit smoother for you:

1. Get to know people.

This is priority number 1, and priority number 2, and 3, 4, 5…

If you do nothing else the first month at a church, this should be it. If you can avoid it, don’t jump into leading a small group or teaching a Sunday School class. Try to hang back and use the time to meet people and get to know them. Learn names. Learn names. Learn names. [It’s one of the hardest things for me. And the bigger the congregation, the harder and longer it’s going to take to learn names.] If you’re church still has a paper back directory [most churches today use online tools like this] or grab one and study it. Once your first Sunday has passed and you have been able to meet some people…go on Facebook and reach out to as many of those people you met as you can. Identify the people who are the ‘social butterflies’ and ask them to introduce you to everyone! You’ll of course get to know the teens, but you need to get to meet everyone you can. Those little old ladies and the other people who might not come up to you could have a big impact on your ministry so get to know them as well.

2. Learn the culture.

This may be obvious to you but just in case you don’t know…each church is different. If you can, sit down with a staff member or church leader and have them clue you into everything they can think of. You’ll get it all eventually, but whatever you can learn early on will keep you from stepping on a landmine down the road. If there is a way for you to, go back and read old newsletters and bulletins. Those things are filled with clues to the church culture. Most importantly, just be observant. You can learn a lot by keeping your mouth closed and opening your eyes and ears. If you are conscious of how the church operates and try to adapt yourself to its rhythms, you’ll be good to go.

3. Your office.

The first couple weeks, you may find yourself saying, “Hmmm, I’ve got nothing to do…” Use this time to organize your office. You probably won’t have time to do it after the first couple weeks. If there is one thing I have noticed about offices, is that when someone has an organized office…it communicates something about them – that their professional and they take this job seriously. It’s just a good idea to take a couple of days to set it up right so you don’t have to worry about it later.

4. Meet with core people.

You will have a lot of people you need to meet with. Church staff, parents, leaders, students, volunteers, – the list goes on. You may or may not be able to meet with all these groups of people in the first month, but you should at least make plans to meet with them at some point. You are meeting with them to get to know them, of course, but you are also meeting with them to share your vision. They need to know what you’re about, what you’re going to do, and most importantly the role they play in it.

5. Get to know the community.

This one can be easy or hard, depending on your community. Drive around and get to know the area. Learn where the schools are. See where students hang out. Read the local newspaper or check out online resources about the town. Get an idea about the heartbeat of the place. This is your mission field – study it carefully. Ask questions. This should be something you continually do, but make the first steps in this first month.

6. Evaluate.

You should be observing and evaluating the ministry from the first minute you come through the door. What are its strengths? What are its weaknesses? What sort of things did they do in the past? What curriculum (if any) is used? How are the facilities? Just look at every aspect of the ministry, and see how it works. Again, ask questions. Even asking those you will be working with (staff, volunteers, students and parents, etc.) on how things are. Getting that clear picture will help later.

7. A plan for the future.

You should start laying the foundation of your plans for the ministry. You don’t need to lay out exactly what you want to do, just some general goals for the future. (Example: let’s say in a year you want to have started a special needs ministry. Set that as a goal, and then make some plans on the how to. Or, say you need new volunteers: set a goal that in 8 months you’ll have 4 new volunteers.) Have an idea of what you want to do, but remember to keep it flexible enough so that if it’s not a good idea that’s ok. And in 8 months when you have learned some new things, you can apply them.

The first month at a church can seem a bit overwhelming, but it is also an awesome time to meet new people, make new friends, learn about a new place, and have an opportunity to do some awesome things for God’s kingdom.

Enjoy the first early months, but be sure to use them to your full advantage.

Mentoring.


When I saw this comic, I chuckled. To be honest, I have always thought of mentoring as something that was ‘Out of this world’ in terms of amazing and important. Something only reachable for those who do things that as ‘out of this world’. I’ve always heard of others in ‘mentoring programs’ for pastors, politicians, or business owners. But let me be the first to say, I am wrong to even think that. Mentoring is crucial.

We each have people in our lives who have are best interest at heart. They push us. Push us to do better. People who are good at pushing us are everywhere, good or bad. They can use love and kindness or they can use fear and confusion. Same goes with using grace or guilt but the cool thing is many times the end result is the same….we’re better. Somehow we do better.

I have always had people in my life that push me. Since elementary school I’ve had people around me to push me on both sides. Good. Bad. Now my only set back is that I can be pushed all day long, but its not going to change me as a person. I can DO something different because someone pushed me or motivated me to do it, but at the end of the day…I haven’t changed myself. I haven’t become better.I need someone in my life to challenge me to become better. Now don’t get me wrong, I think I’ll always have people to push me. I need that. I need pushers, influencers, motivators.

But let me say that everyone should pray that God will lead us to a person who can be a mentor. I know that here I am talking about people needing to be mentored and I myself do not have a mentor in my life.

Yet.

But the least I can do is start pouring into others lives. To challenge.
To love. To support. To pray for. To teach. To Push. To motivate. To accept. To mentor. A mentor not only pushes us to change, but they cause us to become better people.

Now, since I do not have a mentor in my life right now, I have come up with a short answer to the question, “What do you look for in a mentor?”

I’m only going to list a couple things because some things are obvious (like godliness, caring, passionate, trustworthy, faithful):

*Authentic–Being genuine is so important to me. To everyone I believe.
Just be legit. [go ahead…”step to the rhythm of a sho-nuff winner(winner); I been here before, i ain’t no beginner(word)”] =)Name that tune.

*Accessible–Some mentors have to be put into different categories, but ultimately I think being available is important. If your going to mentor someone, make sure are able to physically meet. Don’t have people struggle to get lunch with you. I’m not saying drop everything you have to do, but keep up with it. Doesn’t have to be everyday or even every week, but be intentional about making them a priority.

*Experienced (doesn’t necessarily mean ‘old’ though)–I want to learn. Others want to learn. From your experiences. Things that have worked for you and things that have completely bombed. And in your experiences, God has kept you teachable and has brought you through to mentor and tell others your journey.

*Humility–Basically, humility in and of itself will not only attract others to you, but will fuel these other qualities.

So there you have it. whew! That was some short answer…[sorry if you were expecting one or two words.]

I can only hope that I can say that my mentor(s), has caused me to BECOME someone different, or that someone could say that about me.

The most believable person in the world is the person who you know has your best interest at heart. -John Dickson

So true.

How about you? Are there influencers and motivators in your life? Has God placed a mentor in your life? If he hasn’t, start praying and ask God to show you who you could begin mentoring. They will become a different person as a result of your intentional, loving involvement in their life.

Mentor. Mentor. Mentor.

Clear the Stage.


Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze,
if that’s the measure that it takes to crush the idols.
Chuck the pews and all the decorations too, until the congregations few then have revival. Tell your friends that this is where the party ends, until you’re broken for your sins you can’t be social. Then seek the Lord and wait for what he has in store and know that great is your reward and just be hopeful.
-Ross King

I was talking with a friend, in our schools coffee shop, about what I had been learning and contemplating lately and how I blogged about entertainment in church. Well we got into great discussion about it and he mentioned this song by Ross King called Clear the Stage. I had never heard it before and so I went and listened to it. Wow.
I encourage all of you who have never heard this song to stop right now and listen to it.

Well recently, we had a See You At The Pole rally for local youth groups to join together in a time of worship and fellowship. When I got there, I noticed that all the lights were off in the auditorium (we were able to have it at our local high school) The band that would be leading us in worship was doing a sound check but I couldn’t see them. So I went backstage and saw that they were behind the stage curtain. I know these guys because we all go to school together. Anyways, I asked them, ”Do you guys need the lights on? And the curtain up so the kids can see you? I’ll go up and take care of it if you need me to.”

To my awesome surprise they said, ”No. We all felt led to have everything silent tonight. Our focus is going to be on prayer and true worship. We don’t want backgrounds behind the text or lights on or to be seen. We want to worship back here as well and lead the kids to worship God for who He is and what He has done.”

It was so great to here that! 🙂 These guys get it. (I go to a school where there are many aspiring Christian artists/bands. They are all very talented, but none of them have I ever seen or heard mention anything like this. These guys just want to worship and lead others in worship and I’m blessed to call them friends.)

They wanted to have true worship as a band, as well as give the kids an understanding of what worship is and isn’t. We all prayed together backstage for the worship gathering to glorify God and for the kids to truly know that worship isn’t about the stage or singing, but living a life of worship.

So the rally went on with about 5 different prayer topics and songs that went along with them. We had a speaker (or rather facilitator) that was to lead in scripture and prayer. (he was the one who made it flow.) With each prayer topic the kids where given different instructions, the first was to be in alone time prayer, the second topic with 2 or 3 people, third topic with 2 or 3 different people, and to finally end with your youth group to pray for unity and commitment.
The youth were to pray about:

1. Repentance
2. Government
3. Schools
4. Friends who know and don’t know Jesus
5. Unity and Commitment

It was amazing! God worked in the hearts of all the youth groups there. I prayed with and saw kids praying together with such a fervent heart for God. They didn’t need fancy lights, loud music, cool/fast worship backgrounds, or even to see the band who was leading. They truly praised God for who He is and what He’s done for them. And I hope and pray they truly learned something.

I pray they learned that they needed to have a repentant heart.
I pray they learned that anything they put before God is an idol.
I pray they saw that they needed to pray on their knees until they blistered.
I pray they learned that worship is more than a song.

Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that’s the measure you must take to crush the idols.

Stephen Proctor tweeted this earlier this week that was right on with what I felt at that rally, (I asked to turn on the lights and I wanted to get the perfect background for the gathering and set it up right. But these guys already had it right. So naturally, and I retweeted it Proctor’s post 🙂
it said:

Are you willing to die to your artistic pride in order for your community to come along further in the journey of worship? Something to think about…for all of us.