Saturday, November 24, 2012

TBC Stage Design on CSDI

Check out TBC's latest stage design online!  Thanks to our tech volunteers for all their hard work! Be sure to check out all the other great stage designs at

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On.

Just when something has worked consistently enough to be deemed reliable, it goes wrong.

We recently had an LED light fixture malfunction during a worship service.  But it didn't just malfunction.  It malfunctioned in such a way that it caused all the other LEDs in the light rig to strobe randomly.  In the middle of the pastor's message.  Pretty much a TD's nightmare.  Fortunately it was the last light in that particular DMX chain and it was on the ground so I was able to nonchalantly unplug it from the rest of the lights, thereby ensuring an uneventful conclusion to the service.  After switching the fixture out between services, the rest of the morning went smoothly.

I'm sure you've experienced a similar situation.  Something is going really wrong and you have a few minutes (or a few seconds) to decide what to do about it.  Staying calm and taking time to think through the situation are the keys to solving issues during a live production in the least painful way possible.

Stay calm.  If you start to sweat and hyperventilate, you're not doing anyone any good.  You'll figure it out and the world will go on.  This is especially important if you are a team leader.  Nothing will freak your team out faster than seeing their leader fall apart.

Take your time.  If you react abruptly and suddenly to a situation, the likelihood of your reaction being a distraction or not best course of action is pretty high. Sometimes problems work themselves out after a moment.  If the pastor's mic crackles once and you immediately sprint to the stage with a spare hand held, only to realize that it rubbed briefly against his beard, you've probably caused a larger distraction then necessary.  Ask yourself which is more disruptive to the service, letting the situation play out or stepping in to change something?

Decide and act calmly and with authority.  If you decide to go on stage and unplug a malfunctioning light, then just do it. Don't run, don't look around at the audience, don't apologize, don't fiddle, just do it and leave.  Act like it was part of the show.

Tell your leadership that the problem is fixed.  They don't necessarily need to know how, they just need to know you've got everything under control.

Analyze afterwards.  Take the time later to go over the event and see what could have been done to prevent the issue, what contingencies could be put in place, and if your response could have been different.  Learn from these experiences, unpleasant as they may be at the time.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Justin Bieber and Theology.

If you follow pop music at all, then you've heard Justin Bieber's latest song "As Long as You Love Me".  Although the song is primarily focused on Bieber's romantic relationships, the bridge of the song (featuring Big Sean, of course) contains a lyric that is applicable to all areas of life.

"But the grass ain't always greener on the other side,
It's green where you water it..."

We've all heard the saying, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence".  In most cases that's the end of the phrase, leaving us with the idea that what looks good from a distance, isn't always what it seems.  But in this case, the lyric takes it one step further - "It's green where you water it..."

What a profound idea.  Any place you find "green grass", remember that it didn't get that way by accident.  This truth applies to relationships, careers, the arts, and even church tech.  Its easy to look at some churches and think they have it all together.  They've got the gear, the resources, the personnel, the healthy culture, the creativity, the vision, and the buy-in from their leadership.  And you may think that you could never achieve anything worthwhile or effective because of the "limitations" of your situation.  However, as you dig deeper you may discover that they experience limitations and frustrations that dwarf yours and your situation is really not so bad.  Now, while its good to keep that fact in mind, thats not my main point.  

Here's the truth that could change your team and inspire your church.  There are many churches that have developed a vibrant and effective creative arts ministry, in which worship and production are aligned and church leadership supports their efforts with resources and personnel.  In those organizations, the grass really is green.   But remember the caveat from before: "Its green where you water it."  Those teams did not become effective and powerful forces for the Kingdom of God by focusing on the things other teams had and being discouraged by the things they didn't have.  Rather, they built into their people and focused on getting the most out of their resources and equipment.  It wasn't easy and nothing changed overnight.  But being consitently faithful with what they had eventually resulted in the growth of their ministry.

Jesus teaches us this same principle in the Gospel of Matthew.  In chapter 25:14-30 Jesus shares the Parable of the Talents, in which a master gives his three servants varying amounts of resources, each according to his ability (v. 15).   When the master returns from his trip he finds that two of the servants have been faithful with what they were given and he gives them even more!  But the third servant had not done anything with the resources he had been given and in the end even that was taken from him and given to another.  

Whether you're a volunteer, a leader of volunteers, or a leader of staff, these are sobering words but so very applicable to our work in the Church.  So how are you doing with the resources you've been given?  What are you doing to water the grass where you are now?

Who knew Justin Bieber was such a theologian?