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Church production ideas, tips, and thoughts from Christian leaders. Learn about church stage design ideas and other production tips for your church services or ministry.

Church Techs Holiday Gift Guide for 2016

cmb-church-tech-gift-guideTis the season to give gifts and the techs in your Church should be high on your list. They are the ones that provide the power, the lights, the sounds, the audio for us right? Let’s be real, without them, I don’t know where we would be. So let’s use this season to honor the tech teams in our church.

I just read a fun article over at churchproduction.com by Cathy Hutchison. In this article she presents the holiday gift guide for church techs. I was immediately drawn to this because every church has their techies and sometimes we just need some creative ideas as to what to get them. A few of my favorite picks from this list include the electric kettle and pour-over station (coffee love), and the guitar amp key holder. Amazing!

What other gifts do you think the techies in your church will like?

The 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for Church Techs – Gifts under $50 by Cathy Hutchison

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In Case You Missed It – Videographer Opportunity

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Don’t miss this one. If you are looking for a great new opportunity serving the local church using your technical skills as a videographer/graphic designer, then this may be the position for you. Located in Lufkin, Texas, Lufkin First Assembly is proclaiming the Gospel to their community and they are looking for a new team member. If you think this could be for you, then don’t hesitate clicking on the link and applying for the job.

Videographer/Graphic Designer

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In Case You Missed It – Media Job with Crosspoint

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Here is a great opportunity for you if you enjoy the technical and audio elements of a service in a large church setting. Crosspoint, in Niceville, FL is hiring a Technical Director to be the expert for all things technical. You will be responsible for mic’ing and mixing the band and vocals and collaborating with the worship team during rehearsals and services. You will demonstrate your skills in software such as Ableton Live, and Wave. And you will get to work on the lighting and visual software design including software such as ProPresenter. If this sounds like the perfect fit for you, then head on over to ChurchStaffing and read more of the job description.

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3 Simple & Free Ways to Redesign Your Stage

3SimpleFreeWaytoResdesignYourStageEveryone is looking for the cheapest, easiest and most effective way to redesign their stage for maximum impact. It has become part of our church cultural expectation, and has even made it’s way into some job descriptions. In our pursuit of creativity, balanced by our realties of budget, we’ve explored coroplast, bubble wrap, skids, crumpled screens and painted twigs among a dozen other ideas we’ve seen on sites like churchstagedesignideas.com. Now throw a couple of LED lights on them and – voilá – you’ve created a new backdrop for your stage.

It’s that easy…right?

Well, maybe not that easy. But I do like introducing new stage designs and looks to our church on a regular basis. Beyond the cultural expectation and even the desire to be relevant, there are three reasons why I believe designing and redesigning your stage on a regular basis are important.

It gives people an opportunity to get involved. There are always some people in your church who love to serve behind the scenes; creating, crafting, cleaning and curating ideas to serve the vision of your local church.

It gives your church a sense of life. Healthy things grow, which means healthy things change. If the stage never changes, looks beat up, feels old and tired and has lost it’s life, subconsciously, people make that connection to the state of the church as a whole-right or wrong-it’s their perspective.

It helps keep the culture of change in the forefront of your church. When the time comes to introduce a change that has a significant impact, the people in your church have, at a very base level, gotten used to the concept of change.

So with that understanding, let me offer you three simple and FREE ways you can redesign your stage today.

1. Clean It

I know this sounds really profound and inspiring, but I can’t believe how many churches overlook this simple step.

When asking our children if they’ve cleaned their rooms, my wife follows the almost certain, “Yes”, with the question, “Is it your clean or my clean?” Meaning, is it done properly or are their things just thrown under the bed and in the closet (which nine times out of ten is the case). When we talk about cleaning the stage, it’s more than simply throwing out the half emptied water bottles, sheet music from previous weeks and left behind wrappers from band practice the day before (though that is a great start). It’s about bringing back order and structure.

This also means taking pride and ownership of what you have and ensuring that everything has a place – on and off stage. Don’t turn your media storage room into your proverbial closet. When you take pride in your space, your team will take pride in their space. If you don’t model care and cleanliness, there is no way you can expect that from those who use it once or twice a month.

Tips:

• Use the correct length of cable for the job

• Run your cables along the path to avoid the spider effect on your stage

• Don’t be afraid of Gaffer Tape – it can be your best friend

• Avoid unnecessary clutter. If you’re not using it – remove it

• Position music stands off to the side, they don’t need to be the centre of attention

• If you can’t memorize your charts, put your sheet music in a black binder

I think you get the point. But it’s amazing how much a clean stage not only makes you feel proud – but also makes your audience more comfortable. Remember, everything communicates.

2. Balance It

Again, it comes down to the simple practice of bringing balance to your stage. Try to avoid the urge to cluster everyone and/or everything to one side of the stage – spread it out. Not only will this help give room to your musicians, but also help in your attempt to keep it clean. Don’t be afraid of negative (unused) space. Take your cue from the designers of Apple and allow your stage to breath.

Tips:

• Use drums, pianos and keyboard as anchoring pieces to your stage

• Spread your singers out across the stage

• Separate your guitar players

• Consider the view from different angles of the room

• Tighten the filter on what is allowed on the stage

Balance doesn’t mean symmetry. This can be more of an art than a science, as each stage has it’s own challenges and opportunities. But approach this step with an open mind and don’t be afraid to ask for the thoughts and opinions of others.

3. Maintain It

Now that you’ve cleaned your stage and balanced your stage, it’s time to maintain it. This happens when you share the vision for the new approach with your team and create a strategy for maintaining it.

But remember, vision leaks, so you’re going to have to get into the habit of constantly casting the vision of a clean and balanced stage. Unfortunately, no one will care as much as you. And that’s okay. But as you continue to add new people to your team, and relay the vision again and again, you’ll slowly begin to build a new culture.

Tips:

• Make sure everything has a place, on and off stage

• Don’t be afraid of labels and taping off zones

• Create a pre-service and post-service check list of things that need to get done

and put away

• Empower team members to care for the stage as their own

• Don’t just simply ask your team to do something…show them how to do it

• Celebrate positive actions

I believe that this is the principle of stewardship that Jesus talks about in Luke 16. When we are faithful with what we have been given; when we work inside our box, God will honour our faithfulness and expand our box. You may not have everything you want, but for right now, it is what it is. The simple question then is, what are you going to do with it?

By applying these three simple and free steps, you’ll begin to build a culture of change, and even get the sense of a new and redesigned stage. But more than that, you’ll become good stewards of what God has entrusted to your care. And who knows, maybe God will begin to expand your box.

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Keeping a Serving Attitude

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Keeping a Serving Attitude

Nothing is quite as rewarding as putting in hours upon hours of volunteer time, getting the lighting cues programmed and then reprogrammed, dialing in the house mix, getting monitor mixes right, and then getting them right again all to have it noticed by sometimes no one, right?  I joke but there’s an old saying that as a sound engineer (or any tech), you know you’ve done your job if no one complains. Now, while I understand where this is coming from, it seems a little demeaning to our craft doesn’t it? But it does beg us to ask the question, Why do we do what we do?  Is it for the recognition? A chance to be in control of something? Or are we a frustrated musician that sees it as a first step to getting in with the band!  While there may be some truth to these questions, I sincerely hope the ultimate reason is to serve. To serve the music, to serve the musicians, to serve the larger mission of your local church and to be part of a team, who despite the perceived level of attention, all play a vital role in the final product.

So what does it mean to serve? There are quite a few definitions floating around, but one of my favorites is from the Merriam-Webster dictionary which says; “to be worthy of reliance or trust”.  This definition puts value and high importance of maintaining a serving attitude when working behind the scenes.

Local churches rely heavily on quality volunteers.  We find you worthy of reliance as you are tasked with the week to week set up and administration of our technical systems. We trust you to get the job done and trust as well that you are enjoying what you do. As a volunteer, if you find your serving attitude slipping, it’s very important to evaluate why that is. Have you simply too much on the go and need to look at how to manage time a little differently?  Are you looking for recognition in places that you may not find it? As leaders, we need to make sure we don’t burn out our volunteers. We need to remember to let them know when they are doing a great job, and acknowledge the efforts and sacrifices offered.

I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some very talented musicians in my time as an audio engineer, and I’ve also had the privilege of getting to a point of being relied upon by venues and promoters as a house engineer. While this may sound like I’m tooting my own horn, I’ve counted it a high honor that these folks are at ease when we work together, and the reason they’re at ease is they know my attitude towards the job at hand; to do my absolute best for all those involved. Making sure the band has what they need to do their job, and making sure the house sound doesn’t just suit my tastes, but what the audience or congregation is expecting.  When the show is going well and you can feel the energy, the mix is just right, the people are singing along, it would be really easy to get a bit bloated in myself and proud and think about what a great job I’m doing. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with taking pride in your work, but it’s very important to recall just why you’re doing what you’re doing.

I can’t say this enough, if you got into the tech department for the fame and glory, you may have gotten on the wrong bus. You really need to love the satisfaction of doing the job for the sake of getting the job done well and the pure challenge it presents. Getting props from the band, or the acknowledged by the pastor (while I encourage this in the leadership) is simply a bonus.

I want to touch on a comment I made earlier about “if you’ve done your job right, then no one should notice”, obviously this isn’t a full truth. If you’ve  nailed the audio mix, or the lighting is moving with every change of the music, then people will notice. The somewhat unfortunate reality that I’ve seen is that people are often far quicker to criticize, or should I say, voice opinions on what needs to be changed. These moments can be dealt with more easily if we stop and remember that we are there to serve everyone; even the folks that may not enjoy the mix or style of music chosen and feel like they’ve earned the right to tell you how to mix, despite the severe lack of technical ability (sorry for that rant). Everyone deserves to be heard, even if we have no intention of making any changes. Hearing them out and perhaps explaining certain things to help them understand why things are the way they are go a long way in winning people over. If nothing else, this will further show the servant attitude, and help you succeed in the tasks at hand.

Maintaining a servant attitude in the long hours and sometimes less than ideal circumstances is not an easy thing. It does take a conscious effort. And finding joy in being part of a team and overcoming the challenges we are presented with is a daily decision. We need to make sure we are being found worthy of reliance and trust.

Leaders and musicians, we need to make sure we let the tech portion of our team know that we do appreciate the extra hours they put it in and the tough task they have of turning our parts into the whole, not just letting them know when we need things. The servant attitude should not be taken for granted or abused, it needs to be modeled, respected and appreciated.

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