Saturday, December 01, 2007

What's Next? | Remove the Middleman

Yesterday, I explained one of Covenant Life tech team's challenges with anticipating what's next. Josh and Wes both gave helpful comments, which you can read here.

Our first attempt at a solution is what I've been calling the "What's Next" Notification System. It's really just a parent paging system, adapted to our needs, and the goal is to remove me as the communication middleman. We have a remote control in the front row which a pastor can use to trigger a display in the main booth and a matching display in the video room.

A blank display means we are going forward as planned. The number "1" on the display means that most likely a congregation member will share next. The number "2" on the display means that most likely a pastor will share from the stage next. We've got 97 other numbers to use in case we need them in the future.

I haven't figured out yet how to communicate that the worship leader is going to do something unplanned. We probably won't be able to with this system, but thankfully we can all see the worship leader.

We'll keep swinging and hope our batting average goes up a little because of this addition.

Friday, November 30, 2007

What's Next?

"What's next?"

That's a big question for me these days. Especially on Sunday mornings.

What in the world is going to happen next?

On Covenant Life's website is a list of our defining values. One of those eight values is this:
"A pursuit of the active presence of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit"
What that means practically is that our services are not nailed shut before we start. Don't get me wrong. We plan. We have a list of songs, planned communication from pastors, outlined prayer times, and other scripted moments. However, we also want to make room for "the active presence of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit."

What does that look like? It can be many things, but certain spontaneous elements are the typical additions:
  • The worship leader speaks to the congregation
  • A pastor comes up on stage to speak to the congregation
  • A member shares something with the congregation
We used to have the understanding that certain technical details might not happen perfectly because of the last-minute nature of these changes. The mic might be late, the lights might not be there, the video might not show up on the screen immediately. Lately, though, with urging from our Sunday executive pastor, we've been trying to respond so quickly that it doesn't seem like it was unplanned.

Our senior pastor is generally the one making the call as to what happens next. And he is frequently weighing several options at one time.

Right now, here's the line of communication...
  1. Our Senior Pastor decides to add a spontaneous element. (At this point, we've got 30 seconds to let everyone know - at the most)
  2. He mentions it to someone with a radio.
  3. That person radios me to let me know.
  4. I use the intercom to inform the lighting and video people.
  5. I get the attention of the mixer to inform him or her.
  6. If all goes well, lights are on, the mic is on, cameras are shaded, and a shot goes up on the screen before the first word is spoken.
Our current batting average: approximately 700.

That's better than MLB players, but not good enough for live production.

So, we've devised a scheme to attempt to raise that number.

But before I tell you about our plan, how would you raise that number closer to perfect?

Leave a comment and let me know what you would suggest.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Not To IMAG... Is That The Answer?

We've received some responses for and some responses against IMAG, so the question remains...

Should we use IMAG during our upcoming Christmas Eve production?

Here are a few reasons why I think IMAG could be problematic and unhelpful:
  1. When done poorly, IMAG can be a real distraction. Every missed shot will make it harder for people to understand what is happening.
  2. The show itself has a lot of back-and-forth, with characters and singers all over the stage interlacing short lines into one big idea.
  3. The theatrical purist would never use IMAG. The director is a theatrical purist and is inclined not to use IMAG.
  4. IMAG doesn't show up well on tape. If we don't do IMAG, we could actually shoot the show more for future viewing than for the immediate needs of the congregation.
If you would be an opponent of IMAG in this context, why?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

To IMAG... Is That The Answer?

Should we use IMAG during our upcoming Christmas Eve production?

Here are few reasons why I think it could be successful and helpful:
  1. IMAG does a fantastic job of visually amplifying meaning by transmitting facial expression and body language to the entire audience, even those at the very back of the room.
  2. IMAG will help people follow the dialogue and action by directing their eyes to the person speaking. This could be especially good for guests who may not already be familiar with our acting team's voices.
  3. We have three video screens in the auditorium, and those screens tend to serve better as content communicators than as set pieces.
  4. We have lined up our top guns for our camera and directing team. With a few rehearsals they could make this look fantastic.
  5. I think - though I'm not sure - that both my boss and the senior pastor would prefer to use it.
Anything I've missed? Why would you vote FOR using IMAG at our Christmas production?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

To IMAG Or Not To IMAG, That Seems To Be The Question

Final planning is underway for our two Christmas Eve services this year. We are putting on more of a production this year by doing two evenings of a home-grown show called Messiah, based on music from Handel's Messiah and the story of the arrival of our Messiah.

The production will have many elements, including but not limited to:
  • Small dramatic vignettes
  • Orchestral music pieces
  • Singing Solos
  • A twelve-person vocal ensemble
  • Several multimedia aspects
So a big question has come up: should we use IMAG during the production?

For our normal meetings, we've been using IMAG for about two years now, and our congregation has grown comfortable with it (and may I even say dependent on it?). We don't normally use it while we sing, but we have used it on a few performance music numbers, and it has become commonplace during drama elements.

Messiah is intended to be very theatrical, feeling large both musically and in use of the playing space. From that perspective, I would love to skip IMAG, since it will likely shrink people's focus to the screen.

However, over time I have become more and more a proponent of the communication values of IMAG. You can transfer emotion through facial expression and body language to the very back of the room without any effort. Wouldn't that be valuable for this context?

I'm perplexed.

What do you think?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Made it to Monday

Well, we made it to another Monday.

We had another wonderful Sunday, which went much smoother than last week. But everything seems smooth in comparison to last Sunday's pulpit confusion. I'll write about that some other time.

This week, I had very few notes for follow-up. Just these:
  • Need the choir immediately after baptisms. | Oops, we missed the choir mics during the choir solo moment. Big Oops!
  • Change "O! How" to "Oh how" in Nothing But the Blood. | This is a personal pet peave. Exclamation points after a word like "O" always seems a bit overdramatic to me.
  • Find the missing verse to Amazing Grace. | We have consistent problems with this most common of songs. Worship leaders skip verses, some of our operators delete them, and we have several different artists who have added choruses. We need to make sure all of our versions have all of the verses before we lock them down.
  • One of our pastors wore a shirt that was too close to white. | It's probably time for a quick review of wardrobe etiquette for IMAG.
Thank God for Sunday. And for Monday!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Day of Rest

Yesterday, something strange happened. I had what I would really call a day of rest.

Here are the characteristics of my day, which added together definitely qualify as a day of rest:
  1. I had absolutely no plans for the entire day.
  2. I slept in until 8:30am.
  3. I didn't shower until the afternoon.
  4. I spent the morning playing with my daughter, eating pancakes with my wife, and watching Meet the Robinsons with the whole family.
  5. We actually had time to wrap everybody up warm and take a 20 minute walk out in the cold.
  6. We had some friends over spontaneously for Thanksgiving leftovers and conversation.
  7. I got a sum total of 2 emails, to which I sent zero responses.
  8. Most importantly: I felt very rested at the end of the day.
Now, don't get me wrong. I do get a day off each week: Monday. But Monday mornings are speech therapy times for our daughter. And we've also designated Monday as family day, which means we have the joy of packing up both kids for some memory-making in the afternoon. Mondays are a day off, no doubt, but I often feel more refreshed than rested.

Yesterday makes me think that it may be time to reconsider our Mondays slightly. I am convinced that my personal service to the church is dependent on God, and that he uses a few primary means to strengthen me for service:
  • Daily times in his Word and prayer
  • My wife's labor in the home to free me for service
  • The Sabbath day of rest and refreshment
I'd love to recreate the combination of physical rest and unhurried time together that I experienced yesterday. That can only make me a more effective husband, father, and church staff member.

And maybe in the process I can accomplish an even more amazing feat: get my wife a day of rest, too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving & Prayer

One of the greatest joys of the last month for me has been spending time in our production team staff meetings praying for our volunteers. I am convinced that there is no more sincere way to express true gratefulness for them than to thank God, who provided them to our church. Here's the verse from 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 we used to pray for some of our volunteers last Friday...
"To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."
On this thanksgiving, make sure to thank God for those who serve you in your home and your church. And then pray for them, that God would make every good work resound to His honor and to their joy.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Adjusting to Management

Suddenly, there is a Covenant Life Production Teams Staff. What used to be me, a part-time secretary, and a pile of volunteers has exploded to four full-timers and the still-necessary pile of wonderful volunteers.

Since I started at the church five years ago, I've always had the title "Manager." Honestly, that title came by process of elimination. I wasn't a secretary. I wasn't a pastor. So I became a "manager."

Now, however, I actually have a staff to manage. I'm loving the change because I have more people to help me, and I need it - just ask them! At the same time I have more people looking to me for daily assignments, direction, leadership, and priorities. So this is what it's like to be a manager!

I'll soon share some of the things I'm attempting to do to manage my staff, but - since I'm the newbie - I wanted to hear from you first.

What are your best management tips?

Send them my way by commenting on this post.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

New Additions

I've been so busy with our new addition to the family, Matthew, that I haven't posted for a while. But there has been big news on the production teams at Covenant Life. Here's an email I sent to the team last night (some names have been erased to protect the innocent)...

Hello, Production Team Friends!

I write tonight to share some very exciting news for the sound, lighting, and video ministry teams. God has shown us much favor over the last six months. Grant, Corby, and I have explored the need to expand the staff support for the production teams. And just in the last few weeks, God has provided three new people to step in and help me, you, and the pastors: Ben, Latricia, and Mitch.

Ben started working full time last week as the Assistant Technical Director. He will be serving alongside me in leading the various production teams, primarily taking responsibility for some of the major events of the church. Over time, he will be assuming leadership of the 10:31 Meetings, Family Room Meetings, and some Sunday Mornings. He will also be helping me to push along some of the “background” projects that happen during the week. You may have met Ben playing acoustic guitar on Sunday Mornings or in Discovery Land. I’m excited to have his experience as a musician, as well as his hard-working, can-do, jump-right-in attitude!

Latricia will be joining the church staff this coming Wednesday as the full-time Production Teams Administrator. Jenn has been serving me in this way over the last couple years. However, Jenn’s combined roles with singles AND production have grown well beyond a full-time job. Jenn will be moving over to working for Jon Smith and the singles full time, and Latricia will take over Jenn’s production team responsibilities. This means Latricia will be able to do more to serve you, and that’s what excites me the most. Latricia comes to us directly from Olney theater where she was the assistant costume shop manager.

Finally, Mitch has joined our team as a Production Teams Intern. He is volunteering two days per week to help us with various projects and to get experience in live audio. He’ll also be serving as the auditorium audio producer on week 2. Mitch is in the studio recording program at UMBC and has already interned with Dave in Sovereign Grace Studios. I’ll bet you’ve seen Mitch serving with his acoustic guitar skills also.

So, what should you do?
  • Please wholeheartedly thank these folks when you see them next. They are giving their skills and their time to enable you to serve your Lord more effectively.
  • Please make sure to thank Jenn for all she’s done to help me and to help you these last few years. Jenn will be jumping back in as a volunteer on the teams, too!! Thanks, Jenn!
  • You can begin to send administrative communication for schedules, email addresses, and the like to Latricia beginning on Wednesday, Oct. 10.
  • Make sure to thank Jenn. Don’t forget.
  • Please feel free to copy Ben on any communications you have with me. It will become more clear as time progresses what Ben will address directly and what I’ll be involved in.
  • Oh yeah, and make sure the thank Jenn!!
With much gratefulness for you all!

djw

Friday, September 14, 2007

My Latest Excuse

My latest excuse - and probably my best - for not posting recently is hidden under "The Blogger" to the left. Click on it to see what changed in my life this morning at 2:44am.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Microphone Cable Replacement

Andy Chang commented on my last post:
Got a quick question for you: our church board here is divided in its opinion in "how long cables should last." ... Some of our cables (standard garden variety XLR & instrument cable... LiveWire grade, not expensive/premium cables) have died. We haven't replaced cables in 1 year. Our church sets up & tears down twice a week, 52 weeks a year. I tell the church board that we need cables, and cables going bad is no surprise.
Thanks for the question, Andy.

In short, a microphone cable should last you at least 10 years.

Now for the more precise and extended answer...

First, Andy is absolutely correct that "cables going bad is no surprise."  Most cables set up and torn down twice per week will stop functioning properly at least once every couple years.  However, most cables can be repaired easily with a soldering gun, solder, wire cutters, and a cable tester.  There are tutorial's online that explain the process.  Here's an example of various wiring schemes that I pulled up from the top of the list on a Google search for "microphone cable repair."

Typically, cables stop working because the wire and the connector are no longer attached to each other.  Those "broken" cables can be repaired.  Sometimes, however, the cable itself gets damaged by being crushed, bent strangely, or wrapped incorrectly.  This will typically lead to significant loss of voltage, shorts within the cable itself, or noise when the cable gets near an electrical source or cell phone.  Throw those cables away (after cutting off the connectors for spare parts).  But be careful.  These symptoms could also occur as the result of a repairable problem, so troubleshoot first.

At Covenant Life, we have quarterly repair days, called Work Days, when we test and troubleshoot all our broken cables.  Sometimes we throw them out, but we repair all that we possible can.  We've found that four times a year is a good rhythm to ensure that we have enough cables to keep each of our systems functioning.  However, that only works because we have a plentiful supply of extra cables in various types and lengths.  If you don't have extra cables, you may need to repair them ongoingly.

One way to ensure that cables last as long as possible is to wrap them up using the over-under method.  This is the first thing I train our new tech volunteers to do, and I highly recommend this video to see how to do it yourself.  Cables that have been wrapped around the arm or with the over-over method will deteriorate much more quickly and require replacement rather than repair.

Finally, an honest note from the leader of a great volunteer team: setup and operation of a sound system can be stressful for non-experts, especially when things aren't working correctly.  While I'm not saying this is necessarily true at Andy's church, my experience is that roughly 3 out of 4 cables labelled "BAD" by a volunteer are actually working just fine.  There was an operator error somewhere in the process, and in the hurry to get ready for the service, the cable was incorrectly placed into the repair pile.  Anyway, just another reason to test before tossing.

While they do require some care and feeding, your mic cables should last you quite a long time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back From the Beach

Well, I'm back from a week at the beach.  There really is nothing like enjoying God's creation and making memories with family on the oceanshore.  If you are intersted, you can see pictures at our family blog.  Some highlights for me included:
  • Family dinners and devotions filled with laughter and thoughts of God.
  • Dinner alone with my wife at the Black Pelican.
  • My daughter, Meg, beginning to say people's names (Mama, Daddy, Nana, Grandpop, Nena, and Cub).
  • Seeing Meg eating up the beach (figuratively and at times literally).  She loved the water and the sand and the sun and the whole experience!
  • Flying my stunt kite almost every day, and teaching my father-in-law and brother-in-law to fly it.
While it is difficult to get back into the swing of real life, I'm glad to be home.  My wife will give birth our first son in less than a month, so being near the hospital and the midwives is reassuring.  I just finished plowing through my email (I received less than 100!) and now it's back to the weekly routine and hopefully some more posts in the next few weeks.

It's wonderful to feel refreshed and rejuvenated!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Tech Effect @ Leadership Journal.net

I'd recommend that everyone read this very interesting discussion about the use of technology in preaching.

Unfortunately, there isn't a place for comments there, so leave your thoughts here! I'd love to hear what you all think of these different viewpoints.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Another Successful Work Day

We set a record today. We had the cleanest work day ever!

About four times a year the tech teams take over the building for a day to fix, clean, move, improve, organize, and generally maintain our stuff. We call these days Work Days, and they are hard work.

Today, we knocked out the following projects:
  1. Stencil labels and distribute all of the floor monitor carts.
  2. Rebuild the backdrop flats.
  3. Rewire our sermon media audio disbribution system.
  4. Relabel all the mixer boards with a more condense band list.
  5. Replace 1/4" jacks in the headphone snakes with XLR.
  6. Create a storage box for our six new wireless in-ear beltpacks.
  7. Label the 48 new recievers for Spanish Translation
  8. Label the new personal headphone amps with switch position directions.
  9. Run cables to wire the remotes to our side screen projectors.
  10. Shorten the projector mounts on the side screen projectors to get them closer to the ceiling.
  11. Remove all bad bulbs in the events center lighting system and order more.
Just like the process of cleaning your room can lead to a temporary disaster area, our work days normally requires hours of cleaning up our clean-up mess. Somehow, today, we managed to keep things relatively clean as we went along, and we actually finished up at 4pm as planned.

Thanks to all who came out today to help! As I told someone this afternoon, you accomplished in one day what would have taken the staff several months. More importantly, God was glorified as you gave your time to serve the church in mundane ways with supernatural joy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Volunteer Roles

I got a bunch of comments on last week's post, Made it to Monday.  Here's another from Josh:
David, You mentioned in your post that you had over 150 volunteers for you Sunday morning services. I was wondering how you organize the scheduling of those volunteers and how many people were assigned to each area (audio, video, lighting, etc.).
Thanks for the question, Josh.  I will try to break my answer up into four different quick posts:
  • The different roles volunteers play.
  • The rotation on which they serve.
  • The way we recruit for specific events.
  • The way we communicate requirements for these events.
Today, I'll tackle the different roles our volunteers fill.  I'm feeling very close to the topic today, since I've been working on creating and updating and improving the checklists for each of these roles.

First, the tech volunteers serve in two different rooms on Sunday, our main auditorium and our Discovery Land production (children's ministry) for 2nd-5th graders.  So, here's a quick list of our roles and a brief description of their responsibilities:

Auditorium Sound
Audio Producer | leads the sound team
Mixer | runs the FOH board
Assistant Mixer | is in training on the FOH board
Monitor Operator | runs the monitor board
Monitor Assistant | is in training on the monitor board
Stage Manager | runs soundcheck and helps translate the bands requests to the monitor operator
Stage Tech | helps set up the stage, and solve problems as they arise
Setup | we have two slots for newer people to get their feet wet by helping set up the stage

Auditorium Lighting
Lighting Operator | aim lights and run the lighting board during the service

Auditorium Video
Video Producer | leads the video team
Camera Director | calls camera shots and runs the camera switcher
Assistant Director | sets brightness on cameras and helps call focus
Cameras 1-3 | three people operate cameras to get amazing shots
Playback Operator | plays videos and slide shows as well as records the videotapes
House Director | runs the graphics switcher that determines what goes on what of our three screens
SundayPlus Operator 1 | puts lyrics up on the screen
SundayPlus Operator 2 | does the same in case the first computer crashes!

Discovery Land Tech
Discovery Land Producer | leads the Discovery Land tech team
Mixer | runs the FOH board
Monitor Operator | runs the monitor board
Monitor Assistant | is in training on the monitor board
Stage Manager | runs soundcheck and helps translate the bands requests to the monitor operator
Stage Tech | helps set up the stage and solve problems as they arise
Lighting Operator | aims lights and runs the computerized lighting system
SundayPlus/Video Operator | puts lyrics and DVDs up on the video screen

Teardown
We also try to have five people each week who come in to tear down all the equipment and get the storage areas back into a usable state.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Project Management vs. Human Resource Management

Last week, in response to Made It to Monday, Wes wrote:
"David - Can you flesh out your last comment 'human resources instead of project management.' I think I know what you mean, but I would enjoy to read your thoughts."
I'm a list-calendar-deadline guy. I like getting things done.  Few things are more satisfying to me than checking off the box in my online task manager and seeing that to-do item disappear to the bottom of the list.

Click.  Check.  Ahhhhhhh....

Now, don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like people.  Nothing brings me to life like working with others to proclaim the gospel.  But when it comes to my natural definition of productivity, I am inclined to think of projects, not people.

With glee, I acknowledge that my responsibilities at Covenant Life are very project and calendar and deadline oriented.  And that can sometimes be a pitfall.  In my leadership of our teams, I get too focused on execution of the next event, and I stop making the effort to help people serve to the glory of God and the fullness of their gifts.

A great example is related to our current "re-upping" campaign.  I've asked everyone who is currently serving on our tech teams to decide if they will continue next year.  As I get responses, I fill in a spreadsheet.  6 slots open here.  3 slots open there.

My first thoughts are: How do I fill those spots?  Who can I ask to double up?  Can I get a recruitment announcement from the stage?

My first thoughts probably should be: Who could be better positioned in order to be more fruitful in his or her service to the Lord? Which of these people need to be challenged to serve more? What type of people could I call on to bring their gifts to bear here? Who could I retrain to take on more significant responsibility?

I need to not just check the box and not just fill the slot.

I need to see how God might be using the church's projects to shape and mold the servants who will complete them.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Baptisms Last Sunday

Sometime this week, I was going to try to post about the baptism service we did this last Sunday, but Bob Kauflin beat me to it.  You can read more about some of the changes in Covenant Life's approach to baptism in his post, "Baptism and Worship."

Check out the temporary baptismal we used.  On my stage layout drawings, it was labelled, "One Very Big Pool."  It should have been labelled, "One Very Big and Very Blue Pool."

The Announcement Crash

A friend of mine attended a church which had a consultant come in to evaluate their Sunday services. One of the consultant's comments was that the singing was passionate and the sermon was powerful, but the announcements in-between were, well, boring. The level of engagement in the content crashed during the announcements, losing much momentum that could have served the sermon that was coming next.

The consultant recommended scrapping the announcements altogether. Part of me would love to see us do that at Covenant Life. But the practical part of me knows that's not very likely to happen in the near future, if ever. That makes me grateful that we are trying to improve the way that we do announcements each Sunday. We are aiming for engaging, motivating, welcoming, family-room-style "conversation." I think the extra effort has helped.

Church Communications Pro posted some guidelines for delivering announcements today that are worth reading and considering if you want to avoid the announcement crash.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sunday Production Department

In a recent post, Sunday Matters Most, I alluded to a new approach to Sunday Mornings that Covenant Life adopted this spring.

After realizing that our Sunday services were frequently getting less attention than our monthly meetings (youth, singles, parenting), we decided to make some significant changes.  We needed to help the staff keep Sunday in it's rightful place as the most important meeting of the church.

The biggest change is that we restructured the whole staff, creating a new department: the Sunday Production Department.  This new department includes:
  • Executive Pastor of Sunday Production
  • Pastor of Outreach and Evangelism
  • Music Director
  • Director of Communication
  • Technical Director
  • All of Our Staff and Volunteers
All of these roles have existed for some time except for the Executive Pastor of Sunday Production.  After many discussions and even having one person act as an interim Pastor of Sunday Production, two things became clear:
  1. This person must have a significant leadership gift.
  2. This person must have the full trust of the senior pastor.
Who fit that bill?  Well, after serving many years in various roles as the worship leader, singles pastor, youth pastor, family pastor, and executive pastor, Grant Layman is now the Executive Pastor of Sunday Production.  (This change is so new, it isn't even reflected on the website, yet.)

I have already felt the affects of his leadership as he's helped me decide who to hire next to support the production teams.  I'll write more on who that will be in another post.  But suffice to say that he's lightened my load substantially, which positions us to do many things that we just haven't had the capacity to accomplish.

I thank God for Grant's flexibility in moving over to this new role and look forward to what the Lord has in store for our church as Grant helps us make Sundays matter most.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Made It to Monday

After each weekend, I want to get into the habit of recording some things that I see in the rear-view mirror. I hope to highlight where God was at work, what could have been better, and at least one thing I learned. I apologize in advance for the haphazardness of these posts.

What happened this weekend?
  • On Friday night, we had a prayer and ministry night, a part of our bi-annual week of prayer.
  • On Saturday morning, we mourned the loss of Micah Davis, a three-year-old boy who went to meet Jesus on Thursday because of brain cancer.
  • On Sunday, we learned about the sacraments from 1 Corinthians 11:17-33, and we learned how unity in the church is essential to honoring Christ. (listen here)
What I'm grateful for:
  • God's provision through four "surprise" volunteers who were able to come join us on Friday night and make the ministry night a success.
  • Three faithful team leaders from our sound, lighting, and children's ministry teams who gave me some excellent advice on placing volunteers for our next serving year in October.
  • The example of Luke and Kriscinda Davis, who are making the most of their MIcah Man for the glory of God.
  • Overall, a VERY smooth Sunday morning where everyone served with excellence.
What could have been better? We had a few small details that didn't get nailed:
  • At one point, our worship leader ended up on the screen at the wrong time. I had mistaken one of his hand signals for him calling for the end of the song.
  • After the third song, we did a responsive reading, which unfortunately had some typing entry errors in it. Strangely, we had fixed one of those very errors the night before, but it somehow didn't get saved into the file.
  • The transition from the end of the message back into song was awkward in the first meeting, since we didn't have enough people helping get the band stuff back in place. And because one rolling set piece went the wrong way off-stage. Traffic Jam!
What I learned this weekend:
  • Training sound mixers is a toughie. I still have a lot to learn on how to do this effectively.
  • Given the size of our teams (about 150 volunteers total), our staff needs to start thinking more like a human resources department, and less like a project management team.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Major Tune Up

We just crossed the 100,000 mile mark on our "new" auditorium sound system. Five years ago, we fired it up for the first time. This week was the first major tune up of its life.

Brad and Joe from M&L Sound in Knoxville, TN just finished a Santa-Claus-type "checking-it-twice" run-through of our whole system.

Overall, it was good news:
  • Only 1 driver was blown after five years, and that was on a choir monitor that we rarely use.
  • Our various line problems seemed solvable with various methods of repair.
  • They cleaned everything up like new.
  • They solidified all the "loose" connectors, buttons, and so forth.
  • They confirmed that our unbalanced headphone lines are still noiseless.
What I learned:
  • Most of our dbx compressors are shot. Did we get a bad batch?
  • Our Crest LMx monitor console has ALWAYS ON insert points (I should have known this). If the insert point fails either at the board or the patch bay, the channel goes dead. Hmmm...
  • A good deal of the non-functioning components were due to simple user errors (misplugged, buttons pushed, half-engaged connectors). I'll need to be more thorough in my double-checks on problem claims.
The strangest issue that they ran across was one of those mysterious "intermittent" problems that had completely baffled me and all my techs. One of our wireless vocal mics would occasionally be half-legged to our monitor mix console. Other times it was fine. The problem? A short in the front-of-house patch bay made the mic line half-legged UNLESS there was a patch cable in the microphone line patch point. The patch cable didn't even need to be attached to anything else, but just inserted in the bay on one end. Anyway, they bravely pulled out the patch bay and got it working correctly again.

It feels great to have confidence in all the system pieces as we get into this coming weekend!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sunday Matters Most

I really haven't blogged since C3, when I posted a couple attempts at a conference recap (here and here).

The conference was great, but for those of us from Covenant Life who attended, it was most valuable as an excuse to talk and talk about our Sunday Morning meetings.

We discussed music. We discussed sound and mixing. We discussed lighting and environment. We discussed staging, set design, and band layout. We discussed video screens. We discussed message preparation process. We discussed everything.  And then we discussed it again.

Thankfully, all that talk was led by the Spirit, and we were able to make some headway in significant, strategic decisions.

Our church has several monthly meetings for singles, youth, and families.  Each of these meetings has a pastor who is spending significant time planning for both the content and the production of these meetings.  Each of these meetings was - in it's own way - pushing the boundaries of our abilities.

Which led to some questions:

If - as we believe - Sunday Morning is the most important meeting of the church...
  • Why wasn't Sunday Morning getting this type of attention?
  • Why wasn't Sunday Morning the place where creativity was most evident?
  • Why wasn't Sunday Morning the meeting when the band played and sounded the best?
  • Why wasn't Sunday Morning the time when God's word was most effectively supplemented with media and technology?
One the conclusions was this: We need a pastor who lives and breathes all things Sunday Morning.  Our Senior Pastor, Joshua Harris, lives for Sunday Morning...messages.  However, he doesn't have the capacity to be adequately involved in all the production aspects.

So, after seeking God's wisdom, we now have a pastor who oversees Sunday Production, which includes message, announcement, and music content as well as sound, lighting, video, set design and post-service resources.   I will introduce him to you next time!

Friday, July 20, 2007

What Are You Laughing At?

Occasionally, something makes me laugh hysterically over and over again.  Here's my most recent find, thanks to my sister-in-law:



Leave a comment on what is making you laugh these days. G-rated entries only!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My Blogging Conundrum

Here's my blogging conundrum:

Blogging takes time, and blogging requires ideas.

My best ideas come from life, and the most ideas come when life is fastest.

But when life is fastest, I have no time.

Result: My lack of blogging.

However, as tech stuff around Covenant Life has slowed ever so slightly in the summer, I hope to try to catch up on old ideas from the spring.

There has been a lot going on here, and I am excited to both record and share what God has been doing. Stay tuned...

technorati tags:,

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Kick Drum Sound at Na

In response to my last post on New Attitude, Josh Davis asked this question:
I was curious about this at New Attitude, how did you end up getting your kick drum sound? Did you add any of the effects on the 5D, if so which ones? How did you EQ it?
Well, Josh, I don't know that there were any fancy tricks involved. But here's what we did...

I used a single mic, the AKG D112, with the mic about two inches from the front head of the drum and aimed almost directly at the beater.

With no processing at all, the kick sounded just plain old nasty.

I started by removing the muddiness around 200Hz that not only plagued the kick but the entire room. I ducked that frequency by about 6dB.

Then I tried to recapture the strike of the mallet on the drum. To do that, I pushed around 1.8kHz significantly. If my memory serves me correctly, I may have boosted it by 15dB. I also used a fairly narrow bandwidth. While extreme changes tend to not please the audio purists, sometimes I just do what works.

Finally, I tried to get the impact of the low frequencies. I boosted 60 Hz slightly and brought in the subs, which we were running off an auxiliary. Immediately the rumble factor was overwhelming and the kick lost a good deal of definition once again.

So the last step was to artificially control the duration of the rumble with a gate. I was so grateful for the on-board gates in the PM5D, which are very flexible and accurate. I adjusted the threshold, attack, and release times to taste (which is another way of saying that I don't remember what the numbers actually were).

That process took way too long during soundcheck. I was guilty of spending too much time on the kick, I must admit. I hope it didn't detract from the vocal quality.

Even with the extra time during soundcheck, I wasn't 100% thrilled with the kick sound after the first session. The FOH engineer from the sound company suggested I go easier on the low-freq boost and use the subs more.

I basically removed the 60Hz boost, pushed the subs a little harder, and gated it a little harder. That felt more comfortable and made me smile for the rest of the conference.

I'm glad you liked it too, Josh.

Did anyone who was there NOT like it? Any suggestions on how it could have been better?


Non-processing kick drum note: The sound system at Na had 12 double-18 subwoofers. A lot of the kick drum impact was due to the sheer amount of air the subwoofers moved. You just won't be able to duplicate the experience without the correct ratio of subs to room volume. In other words, don't try this at your home church if you don't have a good number of subs to push the air around.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

New Attitude Update

We just wrapped up Session 2 for New Attitude 2007.

For blog junkies, you can find...
Constant text updates at the Na blog.
Pictures and commentary at the Rebelution.
Message summaries at Challies.

We have the same audio rig as last year. PM5Ds at both FOH and monitor world make band changes easy and recall easier. The Vertec line arrays are doing a nice job in this room, although the room itself is not my favorite. It's really boomy in the low mids, and we have 225Hz almost completely notched out of the system. But it's shaping up OK.

For the curious, here are some bad pics from my Treo.



Thursday, May 24, 2007

New Attitude 2007

New Attitude is back. The 2007 Conference has arrived, and I've landed in downtown Louisville for five days of amazing teaching, passionate-for-God singing, and some fun time mixing. Even though I'm getting old, they've asked me once again to run the "big board" for the conference. I can't wait to get my hands on the sliders again.

As usual, Na is always prefaced by a family trip to visit my dad, step-mom, and grandmother who live in Louisville. One of the highlights this year was the petting zoo, shown here in my favorite picture from the trip...

Monday, April 30, 2007

May Blog Again

It's been two months since my last post. That's definitely a record. And this one doesn't even really count. However, with Easter and a couple other major events at Covenant Life completed, I may be able to get back into some more posts. We've got some very exciting things happening here at Covenant Life regarding our Sunday meetings, and I hope to share some of the improvements soon.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

C3 Review | Discussing Children's Ministry

Personal Note: As I'm writing this blog entry, I'm listening to Hillsongs United album called United We Stand. One of the things I took away from the conference is that I need to listen to some different music, just to stay sharp on the more modern sound. I know this album is way 2006, but it still sounds fresh to me.

You heard a few days ago about our travel travails on the way to the C3 conference in Grapevine, Texas. One nice byproduct of a late flight was an extra-long discussion time before getting on the plane. The topic for the night: Children's Ministry.

Because this is an area in which I have little involvement and absolutely no expertise, I spent the time listening and learning from the other guys who were there.

Josh, our senior pastor, would like to see our children's ministry continue to grow in excellence. Mike Bradshaw has made some great changes in the curriculum and the 2nd-4th grade environment in the last couple years, but we still have room to grow.

"Where?" you ask? From what I gathered, the main area where the pastors desire improvement is in the environments of the classrooms for younger children. Also, they would like to see the people who teach in the 2nd-4th grade "kids church" work harder to use engaging creative elements and to work as a team of teachers instead of four separate teachers.

What was most encouraging to me was Mike's reiteration of the primary purpose of our children's ministry: Covenant Life's children's ministry exists to come alongside parents in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with their children and then discipling their children in a cross-centered, God-glorifying life.

As a young dad, I look forward to seeing how the improvements in children's ministry will assist me in leading my daughter into love for Jesus Christ and a life of service in his kingdom.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

C3 in Review

Though almost a week later is not "soon" enough, I promised some posts looking back on C3 last week. Here's what our trip looked like overall, and what some future posts will resemble over the next few days...
  • Wednesday Evening = Discussion about Effective Children's Ministry
  • Thursday, Session 1 = Ed Young on "Turning What If to What is"
  • Thursday, Session 2 = Craig Groeschel on "You're an Idiot"
  • Lunch = Learning from Craig Cabaniss about Fellowship Church and Texas Christianity
  • Thursday, Session 3 = Mark Driscoll on "Two Enemies of the Gospel"
  • Thursday Dinner = Discussion about Music and Mixing
  • Friday, Session 5 = Bishop TD Jakes on "Ten Commandments of Christian Leadership"
  • Trip Home = Discussion with Corby Megorden

Thursday, February 22, 2007

C3 Travel Travails

Well, as God ordained, we encountered some minor challenges in our travels to C3 yesterday.

On the ride from Gaithersburg to the Baltimore airport, cell phones started ringing all over the car. American Airlines was calling each of us to let us know that our flight had been cancelled. However, there was another flight leaving only an hour later. We had been rebooked on the later flight.

The unfortunate result of the later flight is that we did not get into Dallas early enough to make it Outback Steakhouse. Awwww (sad violin sounds here).... Some guys were looking forward to some juicy steaks. But Chili's had to suffice.

By the time we left Chili's to check into our hotel, it was 11:30p Dallas time, 12:30a body time. Anyone else notice that it gets harder to be joyful when the time gets later? Well, the hotel had given away our rooms, even though we had contacted them twice that day to let them know we would be arriving late. Thankfully, we were too exhausted to be really angry.

After driving around strange parts of suburban Dallas for what seemed like 45 more minutes, we finally plopped down in our new hotel rooms. Thankfully, the day was tiring enough that I didn't even notice that my mattress was only about 4 inches think.

These are the trying suburban-American-spoiled-rotten-I-always-get-what-I-want things we went through yesterday. It was actually a great day, and I will post soon about some of our discussions.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Off to C3

Well, we're starting to load up the vans for our trip to C3. I'll do what I can to keep you udpated on what we're up to.

Right now we've got 6 pastors, 2 staffers, and 1 NASA Engineer/Drama Pro waiting for the van to pull up.

Until later...

Monday, February 12, 2007

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Anyone else notice what's wrong with this picture? Ken and Brittany, you can't answer!

By the way, I took the picture during rehearsal, and I think it got fixed before the service actually started. I hope.

Purity Sermon Series

Covenant Life wrapped up our sermon series on Purity this last Sunday. Joshua Harris led us through six sermons with various topics ranging from marriage to sex to holiness to media to evangelism.

Prompted by an excellent message by Robin Boisvert in our series on 1 Corinthians, the pastors believe God was leading them to cover the topic of purity more extensively early this year. The church has responded with great enthusiasm to the teaching, and I can't wait to see the fruit of it in my marriage and the lives of my friends.

Technically, this series didn't have any unusual requirements, but since we're new to the set design thing, I thought I'd share some pictures of what we did and invite feedback. Unfortunately, the color on the first picture isn't quite right. But you get the idea. Any suggestions?







Saturday, February 10, 2007

Rechargeable Batteries

Last week, someone asked Bob Kauflin a question about using rechargeable batteries in wireless microphones. In his response, he referenced part of the Covenant Life Production Team's most recent monthly update. Go ahead and read his whole post.

Not surprisingly, my readership quadruples whenever Bob kindly references my meager blog, as he does occasionally and always with much encouragement. Thanks, Bob, for your kind words and for sending some of your friends in my direction. I'm praying for you and your book!

I wanted to add a few thoughts for those of you who happened to read Bob's post, in order to put it into context. First, Covenant Life only recently began recycling batteries at all. That change prompted me to reconsider the way we handle batteries on the tech teams in an attempt to utilize the new option of recycling. At the same time, I decided to try to use our batteries more fully before throwing them away.

Please know that there are other churches that do it much better. For instance, one of my volunteers mentioned visiting a church that has four (or more?) containers for batteries: Full, 75% 50%, and Recycle. They use a battery tester to determine which bin the batteries go in, and they have certain uses for the different levels of batteries. If you are able to manage this more complex process, I'd highly recommend it, since it will lead to even better stewardship.

Finally, I'm grateful for Bob Kauflin's wise pastoring, even in very practical areas like batteries. He wrote:
We have two priorities in tension here. The first is to be wise stewards of the resources God has given us. The second is to faithfully serve congregational worship and the preaching of God's Word. Ultimately, the second concern is the greater priority.
Let's make it our aim to be wise stewards without compromising the effectiveness of the preaching of God's Word.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Mornings with My Daughter

Warning: this is one of those self-indulgent, parent posts that many people will find completely unhelpful. OK, you've been warned.

Since every Friday morning is Meg time, I thought I'd post a recent video of my daughter showing off her new high five skills (and me looking really silly). While this wasn't on a Friday morning, it's become one of our favorite activities these days.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Typo or Jab?

A volunteer on the video team recently wrote me some critique and suggestions for our productions teams internal website. Here is a quote from his email...
"As a hole, the site is well done -- just keep making it better and better."
Was that a typo? Or a jab?

In any case, it made me laugh!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Little Things, Big Blessings

Last night went late. I think I rolled into bed around 1am, after setting my alarm to go off at 5am, just a few minutes later.

When I rolled back out of bed this morning (one snooze cycle after 5), I was blessed big by some little things. My wife had picked out clothes, set out food for breakfast, and packed a lunch. For me.

I have an amazingly thoughtful wife.

Thanks, babe! I couldn't serve our church without you. I love you!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Personal Retreat, Part 2

Stats:
Where am I? The Music Cafe
What am I doing? Reading Andrew Murray's Humility
What am I listening to? Soundtrack from Edwards Scissorhands

Quotes that strike me from Humility:

"...nothing is more natural and beautiful and blessed than to be nothing, so that God may be all." (p. 6)

"The faithful servant who recognizes his position finds a real pleasure in supplying the wants of the master and his guests." (p. 7)

"Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and highest virtue of man." (p. 10)

"[Humility] is simply the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all. Man must realize that this is the true nobility. He must consent to be, with his will, his mind, and his affections, the form and the vessel in which the life and glory of God are to work and manifest themselves. Then he will see that humility is simply acknowledging the truth of his position as man and yielding to God his place." (p. 12)

"[Christ's] humility was simply the surrender of Himself to God, to allow the Father to do in Him what He pleased, no matter what men around might say of Him, or do to Him." (p. 23)

"Let us study the words we have been reading, until our heart is filled with the thought: My one need is humility. And let us believe that what He shows, He gives; what He is, He imparts; as the meek and lowly one, He will come in and dwell in the longing heart." (p. 33)

"No argument, however convincing; no sense of the beauty of humility, however deep; no personal resolve and effort, however sincere and earnest--can cast out the devil of pride. When Satan casts out Satan, it is only to enter again in a mightier, though more hidden power. Nothing can avail but that the new nature, in its divine humility, will be revealed in power to take the place of the old." (p. 38)

"Let us pray to God that other gifts may not so satisfy us that we never grasp the fact that the absence of this grace is the secret reason why the power of God cannot do its mighty work." (p. 41)

"The humility that is really ours is not that which we try to show before God in prayer, but that which we carry with us, and carry out, in our ordinary conduct." (p. 44)

"The humble man feels no jealousy or envy. He can praise God when others are preferred and blessed before him. He can bear to hear others praised and himself forgotten, because in God's presence, he has learned to say with Paul, 'I am nothing' (2 Corinthians 12:11)." (p. 47)

"In their spiritual history, men may have had times of great humbling and brokenness, but what a different thing this is from being clothed with humility, and from having a humble spirit. How different this is from having that lowliness of mind in which each counts himself the servant of others, and so shows forth the very mind which was also in Jesus Christ." (p. 54)

"The holiest will always be the humblest." (p. 54)

"Never for a moment can God's child live in the full light of his love without understanding that the sin out of which he's been saved is his one and only right and title to all that grace has promised to do." (p. 61)

"...it is not in daily sinning that the secret of the deeper humility is to be found... [But] it is that our true place... must be that of those whose highest joy is to confess that they are sinners saved by grace." (p. 63)

"As we see how, in their very nature pride and faith are irreconcilably at variance, we will learn that faith and humility are at root one." (p. 68)

"Brethren! nothing can cure you of the desire to receive honor from men, or of the sensitivity and pain and anger which come when it is not given, except giving yourself to seek only the glory that comes from God. Let the glory of the all-glorious God be everything to you. You will be freed from the glory of men and of self, and be content and glad to be nothing. Out of this nothingness you will grow strong in faith, giving glory to God. You will find that the deeper you sink in humility before Him, the nearer He is to fulfill every desire of your faith." (p. 72)

"If you want to enter into full fellowship with Christ in His death, and know the full deliverance from self, humble yourself. This is your one duty." (p. 75)

"Yes, let us ask whether we have learned to regard a reproof, just or unjust, a reproach from friend or enemy, trouble or difficulty into which others bring us, as, above all, an opportunity of proving how Jesus is all to us. It is an opportunity to prove how our own pleasure or honor are nothing, and how humiliation is, in very truth, what we take pleasure in. It is indeed blessed -- the deep happiness of heaven -- to be so free from self that whatever is said about us or done to us is lost and swallowed up in the thought that Jesus is all." (p. 84)

Personal Retreat, Part 1

I'm off today on a personal retreat. I'm basically taking the whole day to seek God about different things happening at work, at home, and in my soul. I love the thought of having an entire uninterrupted day with God.

This is the first time I've done a personal, personal retreat. In the past I've taken time away from the office to do ultra-long-term planning for the church production teams. That frequently included prayer, study, and the like. However, it was always with projects in mind. This day, while work at the church will still be a big part, is more about larger issues related to my heart, namely temptation and sin.

The plan is loose, but I'll be spending a good deal of time reading, praying, and journaling.

Here are the books I've brought with me:
I'll probably post a couple updates today about what the Lord is saying to me. If you think of it, please pray for me, that God would direct me on how to love and serve him more to his pleasure and glory.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

February Monthly Update

Each month, I put out an "update" for all my team members. I have found this to be a very helpful means of communication. If you lead a team of over 20 people, I'd recommend trying something like this.

If you'd like to see our most recent update, you can download it here.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pray for Your Pastor Today

From John Piper's When I Don't Desire God...
"[True preaching requires] heartfelt rigor in the unfolding of Scripture, which is heralded (not just discussed or analyzed) with a worshipful sense of exultation over the beauty of God's truth."
Technology and media folks serve to support the preaching of God's word. Today, I challenge you to support your pastor in a non-technical way. Pray for him, that in these final moments of preparation for this weekend's sermon...
  • He would see the beauty of God's truth.
  • He would love the beauty of God's truth.
  • He would exult in the beauty of God's truth.
  • His encounter with God would overflow in worship through hard work preparing his sermon.
  • His encounter with God would overflow in worship through preaching from the heart as well as the mind.
  • God would be exalted, not only by him but by all who listen.

Monday, January 22, 2007

"Gifts and Sacrifice"

Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church, has written an excellent post on the sacrifices of ministry. I appreciate his note about those working on production in his church. Read his thoughts here. The last paragraph is so true, so read to the end!

Note: I don't necessarily think his use of Hebrews 8:3 is particularly good exegesis, but his overall thoughts are very Biblical.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Managing Decay

I joke with my wife that one of the main activities of life is managing decay. When Adam sinned, God responded with a promise of death and decay until the final redemption. While we see it most vividly in the aging of our bodies ending in death, I also notice the curse in my kitchen sink, my daughter's play area, and our tech team's storage areas. Didn't we just clean this up?

Every three months or so, our tech teams do a Work Day. It is a day devoted to decay, or the management of it. We clean, organize, fix, label, clean some more, tie wrap, cable wrap, clean some more, and then clean up from our cleaning. Here are some pictures...

Getting ready to test cables...




Pile 1 of 3 for Richard to sort...




We built a music stand cart last work day. Unfortunately, some ideas don't work out. Hey, Philip, can you take this apart?




Len, the soccer coach, and Bob, the gymnast...




Elise behind her newly organized shelves...




Justin, where's your prop?




Cable racks were the big project for the day.




And a little of the fruit from our labor...





Friday, January 19, 2007

Family Room Meeting - No Teens Allowed?!


The married couples and single parents of our church meet each third Friday of the month to discuss - did you guess? - marriage and parenting. We call the event, The Family Room.

The topic for tonight's Family Room underwent a serious change in just the last couple weeks. I'm not sure what it was originally, but about 10 days ago the topic became marital intimacy. The pastors wanted to grab the chance to discuss this critical issue alongside the other teaching we are receiving on Sundays about sexual purity.

One small challenge: to allow as many married couples as possible to simply attend, our tech crew for Family Room is 75% high schoolers, who probably would be dis-served by hearing practical details about marital intimacy.

So, with the topic change came a significant crew change. By God's grace and the faithful help of my administrator, all positions were filled tonight by married couples. I want to give a quick "Thanks so much!" to those who covered for our tech teens. You sacrificed the opportunity to sit with your spouses in order to serve the church at large, and every family represented there was blessed by what you did.

Enjoy the pleasure of God in your work, and may He bless your marriages as well!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Same Word, Different Language

One of the wonders of the DC area is the array of cultures and languages that live together here. While I can easily become dull to the uniqueness of this experience, my midwestern parents remind me of the value whenever they visit. Each time, they remark about the diversity they see here and how much they appreciate it.

Six years ago, Covenant Life Church built a new building in response to the growth God gave us in our congregation and in anticipation of more people who would need empty seats to hear God's word preached. While I've often admitted where we lacked foresight, there was one area where we predicted accurately. We installed an assistive listening system that would also work for foreign language translation. And at long last, we took the first steps to offer our services in Spanish yesterday.

In actuality, we could have offered interpretation for some time now. However, we hesitated because we haven't had the pastors on staff with the necessary language skills to effectively counsel native Spanish speakers. We wanted to make sure that anyone who becomes a member can be effectively shepherded.

But the Lord has now provided the men required to fully invite Spanish speakers into our congregation. If all goes well, interpretation will be up and running in late spring or early summer. I can't wait to see who the Lord brings into our family as we speak the same Word in a different language!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Headphone Monitoring Solutions

Covenant Life Church is pretty spoiled. Our musicians have it better than they know. On a normal Sunday, each musician gets his own individual stereo headphone mix. No sharing. No arguments. No negotiation.

However, for the last six months, we've been battling some "issues" with our monitoring system. Patch bay connections are going flaky. Personal monitor amps wig out. One side of the headphones doesn't work. Safety compressors are overheating and causing distortion.

What I've realized is that our system is pretty complex. Here's the signal chain:
Mixer >> Patch Bay >> Safety Limiter >> Back Room Split >> Wall Panel >> Heaphone Snake >> Headphone Line >> Personal Monitor Amp (with wall wart power supply) >> Headphone Extension >> Headphones >> Musicians Ears
Now, while that isn't that complex as monitor systems go, it does have a ton of connections and other error-prone components.

As a result of the ongoing problems and the seeming overcomplexity, I've been exploring other options. To be honest, I'm not real thrilled with what I see.

Here are the three options I've seen so far:

Option 1: Live for the Present. Keep what we have, but do a real thorough double check of all the wiring and replace all the old personal monitor amps with newer and more reliable versions. Plus: our volunteers know how to run and set this up. Minus: replacing the headphone amps will cost about $4200.

Option 2: Go old school. Replace the personal monitor amps with two multi-channel headphone amplifiers and rewire the whole getup with lower-guage cable. Plus: the money required is less than $1200. Minus: Rewiring the whole getup.

Option 3: Launch into the future. Replace everything with Aviom. Plus: we will actually be entering this millenium. Minus: We'd eliminate about 14 volunteer slots and need to retrain another 14.

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Experience from which we could benefit?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Accountability and Culture

Pat Ennis, the executive director of Sovereign Grace Ministries coined, or at least passed on, a phrase about timeliness:

On time is late.

I have personally benefitted from applying that idea. If I arrive just on time, I might as well be late. For me to really be on time, I should arrive early enough to pray a moment, get acclimated to my new surroundings, pull out my stuff, go to the bathroom, plug in my computer, and do whatever else I must to be fully there and fully operational when the official start time arrives.

At Covenant Life, though, this idea is counter-cultural. We operate in "15-minutes late is on time" mode. Undoubtably, part of the difference between our reality and my preferred maxim is the hyperdrive in which our people live. They pack their schedules. They pack them tight, like a bulging suitcase. And then they naturally arrive late.

Unfortunately, our tech teams have not been immune to the cultural modus operandi. Our members show up late frequently. I'm running out of ideas to encourage them to arrive on time. And I'm really disgusted by the thought of manipulating them by asking them to arrive earlier than they really need to arrive just to get them there late-but-on-time.

So, my question goes out to other church leaders, especially volunteer team leaders. How do you hold your people accountable to timeliness?

What reason do you give for them to be on time? How do you encourage them to be on time? What methods do you use to follow up with them? Is there a point where a lack of timeliness becomes a reason to ask them to not volunteer?

Thanks for your help!


Photo Credit: eshm