Sunday, April 30, 2006

Go Forward Sunday

Today's Topic: The Big Day

Today was Go Forward Sunday. Covenant Life Church has another opportunity to grow in the grace of giving. What a wonderful chance to apply the messages we heard in January on Affluenza and last week on True Riches.

The Go Forward Fund will help us advance some specific aspects of our mission to build a community of gospel-centered people. Specifically, all funds given over the next year will be given to debt reduction (40%), building improvements (30%), training new leaders (20%), and church planting (10%).

We spent this morning in preparation for this investment opportunity.

We began by viewing the new Covenant Life Welcome DVD. In the future, this short video will be available for members to hand out to introduce others to the church, especially those who are hesitant to attend. The video briefly discussed all the ministry areas of our church, which gave us a great chance to remember how much God is doing here and to understand that we are giving toward more than just the building. We are investing in more changed lives.

Sidenote: I'm interested to see how the Welcome DVD idea works. Will people actually give it out? How will non-members or non-Christians react? Will they visit as a result? I'll probably do a review of the DVD once it's available for public consumption and we have some data on how it's being received.

Then, Joshua Harris gave the last message from the Luke series on the Great Commission. He reminded us of the message we proclaim, and the mission that we have as a church.

Finally, we were able to give our one-time offerings and make our commitment for the next year. Unfortunately, my wife and I haven't completely identified how much the Lord is calling us to give yet. I can't wait to send in the envelope with our investment in the mission of Jesus Christ!
More Posts on The Big Day

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Pictures from the Acts Musical

If anyone is interested in checking out some stills from Covenant Life's high school production of an original drama based on the book of Acts, look here.

Blogging Schedule

At long last, I've developed a blogging schedule. I really do hope this serves you, so make sure to tell me if it does or does not.

Here's an overview of the plan...

Mondays are review day. I'll evaluate books, articles, videos, websites, materials, and whatever else I can get my hands on. Each day there are more media and media-related items coming out specifically for the church. Some of it is wonderful. Some of it isn't. My hope is to help us all think through what's out there from a God-centric, cross-centric, and others-centric perspective. If you have something you'd like me to review, please let me know. I'd be happy to check it out.

Tuesday we'll cover the basics. I'm convinced that excellence in media production is more in the basics than in the advanced tricks. If we don't do the basics well, all our fanciness is going to waste. We'll talk about the basics of sound, lighting, video, web media, website design, and more. I hope to get some experts I know to help with some of the latter concepts, since those aren't really my area of expertise (as you can probably tell from my blog design!).

Wednesdays will be about tools and techniques. There are so many media tools out there these days. Do we even know what they all are? How can we keep up with them? More importantly, how can we use what we already have to the best of our ability? What does video do well? What would be best suited to live drama? What should be on your website versus your bulletin? I'd love to hear what has worked for you, and what hasn't. I'll share our best and worst, too.

Thursday is team-building day. The church is about people, and volunteers are the core of most technical and media departments. Here I'll share a bit from my limited experience in building volunteer teams and what I've learned from others. Let's seek to motivate and build people into the church of Jesus Christ through their service to him!

Fridays are all for you. I'll answer your questions about media, technology, church, or anything else for that matter. Well, at least I'll try. I'm not an expert in anything, but I will make every effort to get good answers for you. If I can't find complete answers, I'll try to give us some direction and we can go along together to learn. I think we have much to learn from each other, so send your questions and your answers to others' questions!

Saturdays will be the most important posts: Scriptural Serving. The Bible has much to say about the church, about serving, about communication, and even about how to use media. Although the application may not be as clear-cut as commands like "show hospitality," I think we can grow as individuals and as churches in serving to God's glory if we make the effort to study and apply.

Sundays will be celebrations of what God has done here at Covenant Life and at your churches. Send me stories of how a particular Sunday has affected you, your family, your friends, or your church as a whole. How has media blessed your congregation? Let's celebrate God's grace in all it's forms!

If you ever want to check out what I've posted in the categories as a whole, follow the links in the right sidebar under "topic schedule." I will also post on other topics as they come up, especially if there are hot items in the news or blogging world.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Lessons from T4G

The first Together for the Gospel conference is happening this week in Louisville, Kentucky. Bob Kauflin posted today on some tech snafus that occurred. Notice how significantly the video issues affected people's ability to follow his leadership...
"The sound of 3000 men singing together (actually, there were about 60 women as well), was powerful and moving. However, I noticed on the third verse that I was doing a solo. I glanced behind me at the screen and saw that the video switcher had chosen to put me leading from the grand piano up on the screen rather than the lyrics."
"Later on, we sang the William Cowper hymn, “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.” Mark Dever, the primary organizer, had specifically asked that we sing all five verses of this hymn after he spoke. Things were going fine until I started the third verse. Again, I found myself at odds with the congregation. They were singing the LAST verse...Later I found out that the lyrics [the operator] had been sent were in a different order from the ones I was reading from."
Let's all take this as a reminder that the worship leader can't lead where the lyrics operator isn't going. This should strike the fear of God into all lyrics folks. Thankfully, we can be sure that God will help people worship him by helping us lead them there.
P.S. The person who is technical director at T4G is a great friend of mine, and the best conference TD I know. Stuff like this happens to the best of us. Let's just make sure to keep learning together!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

April Showers ~ Recovery Time

April Showers Countdown...
Start :|: \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ x :|: Finish
Well, there's only one event left on the big April Showers Countdown: next Sunday Morning. There was much grace that got our teams through this month, and I am so grateful to God for his help.

In order to personally recover from a fairly grueling schedule, I'll be out of the office and out of blogland for a few days to spend some extra time with my wife and little girl.

My hope is also to take some time to pray about how to use this blog most effectively. One idea I have is to begin a blogging schedule, with regular topics to cover, as well as posting "bloggable" stuff.

Here are some topics I'm considered hitting regularly, in no particular order:
  • Scriptural Principles on Glorifying God through Media Service
  • Best Practices of Technology in Church
  • Media Tools and their Application in Church
  • Reviews of Church Media Offerings
  • Volunteer Team-Building Strategy
  • Questions and Answers
  • Tips and Tricks for Sound, Lighting, and Video
  • New Technology and How to Use it in Church
  • The Role of a Tech or Media Team Leader
  • Media in the Media
Which of these would serve you the most? Is there anything else I should include here that I've forgotten?

God bless! Talk to you soon.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Happily Head-In-Sand in Acts

Gosh, I feel like I've posted nothing recently. That's because I haven't.

I've been happily head-in-sand with our high school's production of an original play based on the book of Acts. We're on our last cue-to-cue before the show tonight, which we're doing without mics to move through the different scenes faster. Finally, I have a moment to write a short bit.

Mixing dramas like this are some of my favorite serving opportunities because they are the most challenging.

The stats:
The cast totals out at about 80 high schoolers, 2 kids, and one big flower pot.
Of those, over 40 different people have speaking or singing roles.
With a total of 18 headest mics, that means there are many mic changes backstage, and keeping track of who's got what mic is absolutely essential!

The big goal for me tonight is to get through scene 1 smoothly. During the first song, they act out the Holy Spirit's arrival in the upper room and the apostles speaking many different languages to the crowd in Jerusalem. The song has 18 people with either singing or speaking solo lines. Each person has only one sentence or part of a sentence. Meanwhile everyone else who doesn't have a line at that moment is singing a powerful song under them. I really hope everyone can be heard.

Thankfully, the show just gets easier from there. If you see the production, let me know what you thought and how we can do better on Saturday.

If you think of it, please pray that God will use this to make his gospel clear and glorious to those who attend!
More Posts on April Showers

Monday, April 17, 2006

Casting Crowns in Cleveland

The storm clouds that just passed were lit purple and blue and red by the setting sun. My wife and I were out with a friend for an evening sail on the Chesapeake Bay. We marvelled at God's creation in the sunset, the perfect winds, and his most gracious mercy in allowing the storm to pass early.

We also, somewhat less spiritually, admired the mansions along the waterfront.

"When I get to heaven," our friend said, "I'd like to have a waterfront home like that one. But, now that I think about it, I haven't really suffered much for the Savior. I'll probably end up in some place like Cleveland."

We laughed at the thought of "Cleveland" even existing in heaven. God's new world will not be boring or ugly or even plain. But it does point to something that is true: heaven will not be a place of exact equality. God will give rewards to believers according to what they have done on earth. Some will end up, metaphorically, in waterfront homes on the Chesapeake Bay. And some will end up in Cleveland. None of us will deserve either, but we'll get it anyway.

As an organizer of church volunteers, I'm always wrestling with this question: How do I non-manipulatively motivate people to do hard work for no earthly pay? I've become convinced that the most reasonable way to motivate people is to point them to heaven's rewards. God will reward those who serve him faithfully and truly.

But even the idea of heavenly reward can get twisted by our sinful hearts. We can jealously or arrogantly seek heavenly reward. "I'm going to live on the waterfront!" However, I was reading in Revelation 4 this morning, which says...
"And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 'Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.'"
I find great encouragement from this passage. Here are the twenty four elders, presumably the twenty four most rewarded people in the new heavens. They had crowns on their heads, which only could have been bestowed by the King himself. Nevertheless, they cast those crowns down in front of God in worship.

Here is my great encouragement: Regardless of how much reward we get in heaven, no one is going to be fooled into thinking we did it! If we live in a waterfront mansion, we won't be able to deceive ourselves into thinking we did it. If we end up with an apartment in Cleveland, we will know that God is ever so merciful to let us in at all. Everyone will worship God and God alone, recognizing that only Jesus Christ earned anything in heaven. We're only there through him.

Therefore, all the more, let's serve to pursue eternal rewards!

Let's seek to receive crowns to lay down before the Lord in worship, whether that's in Cleveland or on the Chesapeake Bay!
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Friday, April 14, 2006

April Showers ~ Good Friday

April Showers Countdown...
Start :|: \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ x x x x :|: Finish
Six more days; four more blue worshipping people. Since last post, we completed a second wedding, another Titus 2 Women's Meeting, our bi-annual Week of Prayer, and our Good Friday Service. This is the first Good Friday service we've done in at least 10 years.

Covenant Life is a celebratory church. We are casual, laughter-lovers who, though we take the worship of Jesus Christ seriously, are rarely somber in our approach to God. We love to revel in the grace of God through our Savior Jesus Christ.

Therefore, we knew we were in for an uphill battle as we began to plan a healthily sober Good Friday service which focused on the suffering and the death of Christ. How do we encourage people NOT to fellowship as they come in but rather to meditate on the cross of Christ? How do we sing songs, which is normally a loud and joyful experience for us, in a way that causes people to recognize the intense agony that the Son of God underwent for our souls? How do we not move on too quickly from the cross and yet clearly offer the hope held out to us in the resurrection of our Savior?

Well, we tried a few things. Some things worked. And some could have been better. What do you think about these ideas?

Entry notes: worked ~ While people were still in the parking lot, they received a notecard asking them to enter the auditorium quietly and meditatively, considering the truth of the cross and the God of the cross they were about to hear from. People were actually quiet when they walked in and sat down. I hope that also means they were thinking about the death of our Lord.

Video Meditation: could have been better ~ We played a video for the last ten minutes before the service began. The video was Scriptures to help people to mediate on the cross over a video background. The idea definitely could have worked, and did to some degree. The backgrounds were so dynamic that they could have distracted from the words. And the video was less than 10 minutes long. We should have played it twice since some people started arriving early.

Singing to the Lord: worked ~ Our singles band played for this meeting, which I initially thought might not support the sober mood. However, they did a great job keeping the intensity up but the tone serious. They didn't overplay. The song choice was perfect for the evening.

The only thing that could have been better was the start of the meeting. Normally most everyone is standing and talking at the beginning of a service, and we just jump right into singing together. Bowever, because everyone was seated when they came in, the congregation wasn't sure whether they were supposed to stand and sing in the first couple songs. I think some of them may have been confused and confusion always has the potential of distraction.

Dramatic Elements: worked ~ After the second song, we did a series of "drama" elements... We started with a reading of Luke's passage on the crucifixion. After that the room went dark, the screen turned red, and we played an audio track of hammer strikes. Then an animated cross came up on the screen with the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross, one at a time. This seemed to very effective.

The Message: worked ~ Eric Simmons preached a powerful sermon from the perspective of the criminals and onlookers of the crucifixion. I didn't get to hear it all, but he was on point. I can't wait to listen to it in full!

The Exit: could have been better ~ The last thing that people were supposed to experience was in our main lobby. As people exited the auditorium, a floor-to-ceiling screen with a sunrise greeted them. The text over the sunrise pointed to the resurrection. "Hope is Coming" was one of the phrases. The video and screen looked great.

Unfortunately, people piled up in front of the screen after a few minutes, so most people who left later couldn't see what the words said. We should have put the words on the top of the video rather than the bottom. Also, the video was supposed to be a ray of hope in a more dark moment. Instead, the end of the sermon and the songs we sang just before exiting were very hope-filled. That was great, but it minimized the impact of the video.

If you attended our service, I'd love to hear what you thought of it. How did the Lord meet you? What didn't serve you? If you didn't attend Covenant Life, what did you do for Good Friday? How did the Lord meet you?

Just one more day until the resurrection of our Savior!
More Posts on April Showers

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Trap of the Target Audience

We live in a specialized nation, a country of "experts" who through training and experience have each become very good at one thing. And many of them are very good at doing one thing for one specific group of people. Consider restaurants, television shows, retail stores, websites, magazines, musicians. They all have their specialty and their target audience, their niche.

Enter Christians and churches. We have been called to communicate a message to the world, a message of hope for sinners through Jesus Christ. We have a great commission, from our God and Savior himself: "Go and make disciples." This is a high calling from a great master and is worthy of effort, excellence, and effectiveness. We must ask the question, how can we proclaim this truth in the best way possible?

Some leaders in the church have concluded from business models that the church also needs to be targeting our audience, so that we can be most effective in sharing the gospel. There are now "generation" churches and "emerging" churches and "seeker-sensitive" churches and all sorts of different labels that identify who the leaders of that church hope will attend.

As I mentioned in my last post on relevant ministry, I think this is a trap. I'm going to expand on this Trap of the Target Audience a bit more by highlighting some lures of this business mindset and some possible pitfalls of the approach.

Why is the idea of Target Audience so appealing to the church?
  • First, I think the idea of the target audience is appealing because it has been effective in the business world. Marketing, specialized products, and generation-specific media forms have made targeting your audience one of the most important and helpful tools in selling a product. It will also be helpful in spreading the truth of Jesus Christ, right?
  • Choosing a target audience is more efficient. The church can become experts at sharing the gospel with such-and-such a group, which will be more effective.
  • Choosing a target audience can help us avoid controversy. All the disagreements about musical style, preaching approach, technology use, and so on can be simplified by making decisions on what will be most useful for reaching our target audience.
What are some of the possible pitfalls of serving a Target Audience?
  • We may not be able to reach everyone. Let's face it, most evangelistically-minded churches are not targeting the 80-year olds. If each church targets an audience, the church as a whole will inevitably leave out some, most likely the weak, the poor, and the uncool. If that happens, then we've lost track of the "Go and make disciples of all nations."
  • We could end up with single-generation churches, and this would be a tragedy. How can a church obey the commands of Titus 2 ("Older women teach younger women") if there are no older women or younger women around? Another version of this, which has been happening for the entire history of our country, is single-nationality churches. This is another tragedy!
  • This could lead to generational church-hopping. What happens when the 20-something church turns ten years old and everyone's in their thirties. Does it become the 30-something church? Or does everyone go off to find a 30-something church when they "outgrow" the 20-something church?
  • Our children may be confused. Which church do they attend? At what point does a teenager or young adult go to a church with something targeted directly to them? What happens to their relationships with their parents at that point?
  • This could lead (already has?) to a consumer mentality in choosing churches. "I will attend the church that most effectively targets my needs, desires, and preferences. Someday maybe I'll find an even better one."
None of these pitfalls are guaranteed to happen. However, I do think they are the logical end of a consistent and broad application of the idea of targeting an audience for church outreach or regular ministry. And the possible results are frightening to me.

A quick note of clarification: I'm speaking here about a church as a whole targetting one small segment of the population in the majority of their ministry work. I can understand that the young adult ministry of a multi-generational church would hope to connect with that particular group specifically. This makes sense as long as there is also a context where the young adults get to worship and serve alongside other generations, younger and older.

Also, you may wonder, what in the world does this have to do with media? The connection I make is that one of the primary ways that churches target a particular audience is through tailoring media, from preaching to graphics to videos to anything else, to that audience's tastes. And as the people who produce church media, we need to know why we are doing what we are doing and what effect it will have on the future of our church.

Is there anything I've missed? Do you disagree? I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Discernment in the Use of Technology in Worship

Here is a brief article by David Finch, posted on the blog of the editors of Leadership journal, a Christianity Today publication. The title is "Disposable Worship: a caution about using too much technology in worship." The article is well worth the read, and many people commented on his ideas, so check it out before going any further on my post.

His main idea is that technology, which solves an immediate "problem," can cause us to lose other benefits. He begins with the example of how a washer and dryer eliminates the need to go to the laundromat, and in doing so eliminates the opportunity to meet new people. His encouragement is to be discerning about technology use, so that we don't remove the opportunity to truly worship God.

Mr. Finch seems to put his ideas into practice, as he's been meeting with the people who head up the worship in his church to make sure that technology and graphic arts don't produce a "disposable experience." I only wish he would have given us a window into those discussions, so we could learn how he applied discrenment to the specifics of the service.

These are a couple of the big questions in my mind these days...

How can I measure and test our use of media and technology and get an accurate sense of whether it was truly effective for the glory of God? And then, how can I use that information to be better discerning in the future about using these components in worship of Jesus Christ?

I will probably start formulating thoughts here, but I'd love any jumping off points you all may have.

How do you apply discernment in using technology in worship?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

April Showers ~ Weekend #2

April Showers Countdown...
Start :|: \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ x x x x x x x x :|: Finish
The second weekend of April is wrapping up. According to my timeline, not much has happened. Only one additional blue worshipping dude has been added. Nevertheless it was a busy weekend of rehearsals in preparation for both the rest of the Passion week and our upcoming youth drama based on Acts.

Technical Highlight
This morning I want to give a quick shout-out to our camera directors. You guys and gals have a tough job, and you make it look so easy! I had the opportunity to direct cameras a little this morning. What a rush! I also remembered that I'm not really any good at it. But I had fun and we survived. And thankfully a real camera director arrived at a perfect time to take over during the first service.

An IMAG camera director has the tough responsibility of being the eyes of the congregation. The sound mixer decides what the people hear. The camera director decides what people will see. In order to be as invisible as possible, a camera director is always balancing between "the cool shot" and "the natural shot." What looks artistically great on the screen may actually be detrimental when the congregation's attention is supposed to be on the spoken words of the message. The best camera directors know what is both artistic and natural and can draw those images out of their camera operators.

Ministry Highlight
This morning we heard from Joshua Harris on the Tax Collector, Zacchaeus. The thing that affected me most was related to last week's sermon. Last Sunday, Bob Kauflin taught us about the rich young ruler who wasn't ready to follow Jesus because he wasn't ready to give up his wealth. What did Jesus say in response to this?
"'How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.' Those who heard it said, 'Then who can be saved?' But he said, 'What is impossible with men is possible with God.'"
Today we saw a camel go through the eye of a needle. Zaccaeus, a rich man WAS saved. He met the Savior, repented of his sins, and began to show fruit of a new heart! Anything is possible with God!
More Posts on Grace Through April's Showers

Saturday, April 08, 2006

And...Action! ~ Devos 5

Romans 12:6 -- "Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them."

In January, Covenant Life heard three messages on stewardship in the series Affluenza. You can listen to them here. We learned that our money is not our money. It's actually God's money, and we are only stewards of it, servants of the owner. And what does our master call us to do with the money? Don't horde it in fear or pride. Don't spend it carelessly or selfishly. But USE IT for the his purposes and goals.

Similarly, God has given us grace in the forms of talents, giftings, skills, education, expertise, and experience. And what does he command us as a result? USE them! And how much should we use them? Use them "according to the grace given us." Essentially, use them up!

As I was thinking about this, I asked the question: what might hinder Christians from using up their gifts and talents for the kingdom? A few examples came to mind.
  • The Overcommitted ~ We have so many different worthy places to serve. Many people get stretched across several ministries rather than focusing on the one or two where they are most graced to serve. Their time gets used up, but their gifts are left largely untapped.
  • The Sideliners ~ It can be easy to think that there is someone more gifted out there that could do it better. Indeed, this verse even says that we differ in our gifts. So we let those people be the ones involved and we hang out on the sidelines.
  • The Habitual ~ It can be easy to think that serving in our routine, once a month or so, is all our soul needs. For some of us, this is all we can give. But for others, we have more grace available that could be used for God's kingdom.
  • The Legalist ~ We may only be serving because "that's what Christians do." We are serving as part of our checklist of good deeds. We don't want to fully give away our lives for our Savior, just do enough to stay in "good standing" with God.
  • The Worldly ~ If we're honest, we just don't value future rewards from God as much as we value what the world offers us now. Instead of investing in the church, we put our efforts, energy, and expertise toward making money, playing sports, career advancement, comfort, recreation, and the like.
Evaluate your quantity and quality of serving.

If you are serving on many, many ministries, maybe it's time to focus on the ones where you are most graced by God. You can grow in stewardship with God's help.

If you have unused grace and gifts, you should be serving more, for the good of your soul. You can grow in selflessness with God's help.

If you are serving primarily to check off the box on the Christian's to-do list, you should reevaluate your motives and seek to serve out of love for God. The root of legalism is pride, but you can grow in humility with God's help.

If you are limiting your serving in order to satisfy your worldly desires, ask God to give you a vision for the glory of eternity and to help you invest there instead of in this world. You can grow in heavenly mindedness with God's help!

What is the promise of God to those who steward their money well? Eternal rewards! And what is the promise of God to those who steward their gifts well? More eternal rewards!

Seek eternal rewards for the glory of God!
More Devotionals for Media Servants

Friday, April 07, 2006

LifeChurch.tv ~ Free Media for Churches

The word is out. LifeChurch.tv is offering free videos, graphics, and message notes to anyone who wants to use them in their churches. If you haven't already checked it out, go ahead and visit LifeChurch.tv Open, their free content area.

Some bloggers I've read have heralded this as an amazing gift from a kingdom-minded church. A few others, Anthony Coppedge in particular, have asked some good questions about this offering. He also got some of the most helpful answers directly from staff at LifeChurch.tv.

The discussions about this free content, however, illustrate a question I have for the American church today: are we more enamored with media than the message we are called to communicate? LifeChurch.tv has been praised repeatedly for giving away free content, particularly because most of their sermon series packages have several media elements including graphics, video, and sermon notes. But I have seen nothing written identifying whether or not LifeChurch.tv is giving away Biblical content that will actually build up the church. (If you have read reviews that I've missed, please post a comment because I'd love to take a look at them.)

My fear is that we've begun to believe that MEDIA IS GOOD simply because many growing churches use media extensively. But the fact is that only God causes a church to grow, regardless of the media they choose to communicate their message. Is the silence on the content of LifeChurch.tv because we are idolizing "quality" media?

Now, please know that this is not a criticism of LifeChurch.tv or their content. I am grateful for their selflessness, and I hope that their material is worthy of repeated use.

I am more concerned for the church in general, which seems to categorically laud the use of media without much consideration of whether that media is actually communicating something of true value. As believers, we must be discerning about the content of the media we use in church.

Let's be careful to "be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil." (Romans 16:19)

Over the next few weeks, I'll be checking out LifeChurch.tv content and posting some brief reviews here. Explore their material. If you have ideas for use or concerns about doctrine as you do so, please fill me in on what you learn and think.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

April Showers ~ The Women of Titus 2

April Showers Countdown...
Start :|: \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ x x x x x x x x x :|: Finish
Titus 2 is the theme chapter and the name of Covenant Life's women's ministry. The women of our church meet weekly for one month of each year to learn about God's call on their lives. This year they are studying "7 Habits of the Highly Effective Woman." Last night was the first of three meetings in April, which laid the groundwork for upcoming seminars on the practicals of growing in being effective as wives, mothers, employees, sisters, and the many other roles women play.

Today, I want to thank God for a particular aspect of the technical ministry last night: all the technical team members serving last night were women. Thanks, Rachel, Karen, Beth, Stephanie, Vicki, and Evelyn!

What a joy it is for me, a man involved in the very male-dominated technology arena, to have so many women who faithfully, cheerfully, and excellently serve alongside us guys for God's glory. In fact, well over 1/5 of our technical team volunteers are women.

They bring a wonderful relational aspect to the sound, video, and lighting crews which would otherwise be lost on us men. Also, they help us to think differently about how to serve people. Guys want to solve problems while women are more apt to care for people.

If you are a woman out there and are interested in serving in technical arenas, please sign up. If you are the first on your team, it may seem a bit strange in the beginning, but stick with it. As men, we need your assistance to make this team work.

If you are a male team leader, please get women involved in your media ministries. If you're not sure where to start, here are some suggestions...
  • Make sure you have roles on your team that are not heavily technical, but rather are more relational. An example might be a role for someone who is the "liaison" between the band and sound board operator, telling the board operator what the band wants in their monitors.
  • Take advantage of family ties. Invite a current team-member's wife to serve with him. This is great for the team and great for their family.
  • Get them involved early. Young women are not as easily daunted by technology, and they are often comfortable serving alongside guys, especially their peers.
  • Not all women are gear-heads (duh!), so pair up a non-technology-loving woman with someone who loves to plug things in. Have her run the board but the other person troubleshoot.
  • For the woman who does love buttons and knobs, let her get really involved in the hard stuff right away. She'll probably have some amazing new ways to handle things that you'd never think of.
  • Finally, don't give up. The unity of men and women for the gospel is a powerful example to the world of the way God can change hearts. And God's glory is worth the effort.

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Sunday, April 02, 2006

April Showers ~ The First Weekend

April Showers Countdown...
Start :|: \o/ \o/ \o/ \o/ x x x x x x x x x x :|: Finish
Well, the four blue "worship" guys in the timeline above mean that God has helped us through four of our fourteen major events for the month April. And that in just the first two days. Because of the late hour, and a lack of sleep, I'll try to keep my reflections on this weekend brief...

Ministry Highlights
Last night was the 10:31 Senior Challenge. Covenant Life's youth ministry has adopted the name 10:31 from 1 Corinthians 10:31: "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God." About fifteen members of the senior class shared what they've learned in high school about God and godliness and challenged their peers to live to God's glory. I love these evenings because I can see God shaping the future of his church in the lives in our teens. Only he could cause our teenagers to be so mature at such a young age. The future of the gospel is bright!

This morning for our Sunday Celebration, Bob Kauflin spoke on the Rich Young Ruler from Luke. He challenged us to identify what we worship more than God and then take steps to remove that idol from the thrones of our hearts. For more provoking thoughts on God, worship, and you, visit Bob's blog at www.worshipmatters.com.

Tonight was our semi-annual Family Meeting. The members of the church met to "sit in the living room together" and discuss family business. We laughed when we talked about chickens, applauded God as we welcomed our newest members, prayed soberly for some former members now under church discipline, and learned about our next opportunity to give sacrificially.

Technical Highlights
Well, highlight number one is that we made it! Our teams put in over 275 man-hours of tech labor in two days. I can't thank God enough that I work with such dedicated and sacrificial servants! Many of them served twice over the weekend, upwards of 12 hours each.

The IMAG team did a stellar job this morning. The images were beautiful, timing was impeccable, and it felt like the cameras were a natural extension of my eyes.

The Family Meeting is always a graphics-fest, and the video team did a super job tonight as well. They handled everything seamlessly, including four DVD videos, slide shows from three different computers, and IMAG in-between.

Ultimately, God helped us! And he is worthy of praise!

Now, zzzzzzzz.........
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Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Showers

When it rains, it pours. April is a busy month at Covenant Life Church!

We have almost one major event every other day. Having a month like this challenges my faith and humbles me before the Lord. I know I won't be able to do it on my own. However, God has always proven to be faithful during these busy times.

In order to celebrate the grace of God throughout this month and to keep his work before my own eyes, I'll be posting on some of those events. As you read, I hope you are encouraged to hear how God is at work here and reminded that he will meet you in your busy times as well!
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Serving with Humility ~ Devos 4

In the Media Servant Devos posts, I've looked at how the gospel should motivate us to serve and how we need the cross of Christ to purify our service. I've also contended that faith is a requirement for God-honoring service. Now, let's look at another character quality that will turn doing stuff at church into God-glorifying service.

Christ-pleasing service requires humility.
"For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned." -- Romans 12:3
In order to get a stronger grasp on the importance of humility, let's consider some scenarios that may cause pride to boil to the surface: 1) someone comes up to you after the first service and makes a "suggestion" about your camera work; 2) a member of the church tells you that she thinks it's too loud; 3) a band member wants to use a floor monitor when you've assigned them headphones; 4) a pastor asks you to change the lighting without fully understanding the implications.

What do you do? How can you make sure to respond in a way that honors God? How can you be humble?

I think the answers lie in the verse above:

First, watch what you think. Before you speak or make a decision, take a quick inventory of your thoughts. Specifically, measure your faith: what you are believing at that moment? Some questions I ask myself in those moments are:
  • Do I see myself as the greatest sinner I know, saved only by God's grace and in this position of serving only by God's goodness? Or do I think I deserve to be here because of training or expertise?
  • Do I recognize and rejoice that this person is a beloved child of God just as I am? Or have I forgotten that they have as much of the Spirit of God as I do?
  • Do I believe that God leads his church in many ways through many people? Or do I think I have the inside track into what God wants right now?
Second, measure yourself soberly. Understanding reality leads to humility. Think honestly about how much you are trusting God, believing God, and loving God. Let's face it, we always have room to believe more thoroughly that God is working through others. We can always do better distrusting our own ideas. We can always do more to see God's leading in other people's suggestions. We can always trust God more that he wants to bless his people.

What is the point in this introspection? What is the power of this thinking? When you humbly admit that your faith in God can grow, you can then worship God by putting more trust in him than you ever have before. Ask him to help you believe the truth about himself, the person you are talking to, and the challenges you are facing. God will answer your prayer and help you to act according to His word. You will be able to speak with humility and grace.
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