Be A Magician

This article probably does not apply to most people reading it. The fact you’re reading this means you are a learner. For you tech folks who are the only tech guy at your church, you understand what I am writing about more than anybody. This was written for the new tech guy, an encouragement as to what it means to be a successful technician, not about simply being a person who likes to play with technical things.

The end-user, meaning the performer or stage production staff, does not need to know HOW things work, they just need them to work. Push a button and it goes, that’s what they need. As the technical team it is our responsibility to do the extra work and figure out how to make things easy for them. That means purchasing the right gear, researching the proper use, and training end-users where needed. We don’t expect the end-user to know everything about technical gear. It is our job as the technicians to know everything about it. It is not the privilege of the tech staff to have things ‘magically’ work; it’s our job to be the magicians.

How do you ‘Be the Magician’? You read and you learn. The fact that you are reading this likely means you are a learner. But, when the time comes, do you know the gear you are using? I mean, do you really know it? Have you read the manual? You need to know more than how to turn it on and off; you need to know every option that piece of gear has. You might be surprised how many benefits you get from a simple piece of gear. Even if you were not involved in the original install, that does not mean you should just throw your arms up when something goes wrong. Don’t assume it is someone else’s problem. Do some research and find out what you can to help fix it.

Gear fails. There is always breakage, failure, and even sometimes, the simple mistake, like bumping some gear and twisting an antenna into not functioning. There is no way we can expect the end-user to understand the intricacies of what tech does, nor should they. They have enough to worry about, things we don’t need to know. So, when something goes wrong, it’s on us to fix it, even if we don’t exactly know why it went wrong. That’s what we do. We research to learn new skills every day.

I like the idea of new gear. It’s always fun to play with new things. Keep in mind though, even with the new gear, we are responsible for it to work every day. We don’t get to plug it in and have it work, we need to research and learn. Be careful of thinking new gear will fix everything. It will still be susceptible to breakage and improper use. New gear does not mean you can ignore the issues; there will always be issues. The only difference is that the leadership will look harder at you when it fails 🙂 We spent people’s money on new gear, why is it not working?

You understand that new stuff does not equal ‘working stuff’. We still need to own it. Why not own the gear we have right now? Learn more about what you have. If something goes wrong, you can likely fix it quickly. Give it a try. Be interested in tech, more than just playing with it, learn it. I mean, really learn it. Download the manuals because everything is online now. You might be surprised to find out that ‘old’ piece of gear has some great benefits for your ministry. Learn what it can do and make it work for you.

I happen to work at a very large church. The problem with larger technical staffs comes when we separate responsibilities. We need clear direction on who is responsible for what items. This is nothing new at large churches: we have FOH engineers, lighting directors, and many other specific technical staff. However, the one thing we have in common is the need to do our job to make the church function seamlessly. If you are a leader at a large church, encourage your staff and volunteers to learn the gear you have better. Make it easy for them; send them the links to manuals.

If you are the lead tech at a small church, you likely know the importance of making things work to your benefit. It’s all on you, so you need to know how it works. Don’t stop there; get support. Use your volunteers as learners and teachers. And, of course, join a community of other tech folks, like Church Technical Leaders. Seems like you may have already done that.

Greg Baker is the Global Technical Director for Saddleback Church and has been with Saddleback since November 1997 where he has held many positions, including Front of House Engineer and Audio Team Director. Prior to joining the team at Saddleback, Greg achieved his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from California State University at Fullerton in 1993 and almost immediately began work in the audio and visual field as a technician. As Global Technical Director, Greg is responsible for teams and equipment that include Audio, Lighting, Video, and Media graphics as they serve Saddleback Church through campuses around Southern California. As of 2012, Saddleback Church began its global outreach expanding to 4 international Church locations, where Greg’s responsibilities have expanded to include adding and supporting technology in these new cities.

Be a fire-starter

“Be who you were created to be, and you will set the world on fire.” - St. Catherine of Sienna

I cannot be you. You cannot be me. Each of us was created to be an individual, uniquely knit together, and destined to fulfill God’s divine purpose. That destiny is reached if we are willing to be who He created us to be, and if we allow Him to direct every aspect of our lives.

Does this sound familiar?

Your technical manager is out sick. Not a problem. It happens. You arrive at church – GAME FACE ON – ready to make sure that every part of the intricate production process runs flawlessly, regardless of who’s missing. The service begins without alarm while a million important details simultaneously explode within your brain like tiny cannons… all of a sudden… you look down… and notice… you are wearing different shoes. Pausing briefly in this unfortunate situation, pondering the absence of your missing manager, you realize that today you will be the one running around the church campus in order to ensure production continues without incident. Maybe no one will notice your shoes…?

I laughed so hard at myself that Sunday! Yes, I am created by God to fulfill His purpose for me, but I admit that sometimes I feel unusually unique!

We can all feel incapable and inadequate when the tasks looming before us become overwhelming. To survive, we must become effective time-managers. Consideration must be given to church leadership, the congregation, ever-changing technology, and most importantly, the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

What has anchored my life is staying focused on being the unique person (even unusually!) that God created me to be. Those words uttered by St. Catherine are true. Look at the disciples – all unique individuals who together set the world ablaze for Jesus Christ. It would be wise for us to follow their examples.

Within our human framework many unique parts exist. The same brain that can analyze every technical detail for a worship service can also be capable of overlooking the fact that two completely different shoes have been chosen for work! That is how God created me. Our identity is not based on our title, gender, or how many compliments or complaints we might receive. Our identity is in Christ and how He made us.

Lessons I’ve learned on my journey toward becoming who I was created to be:

Love what you do, and do what you love. Stay curious, teachable, and let your passion be contagious. Don’t let fear stop you from becoming all that God has knit you together to be.

Be a mentor, confidant, friend, and prayer warrior for your team. Their spiritual health is far more important than the equipment they are using.

Invest in yourself. Learn business and leadership skills. Understand that "change will be constant," and be prepared for that change!

Control what you can control. Work hard, be led by the Spirit, and always stay true to who you are in Christ.

Don’t be afraid of feedback – even if it’s hard to take. Genuine feedback has truly helped me be wiser, stronger, and more mature.

Seek out an honest and committed mentor. One who will force you to grow, but remain true to yourself.

Stay positive and focused on the tasks at hand. God is in control, and He will equip you. Work diligently to enhance your performance and that of your church.

Finally, remember that your calling is from God alone. No matter how tough it gets, God is faithful to complete His purpose for you!

Embrace the unique gifts God has given especially to you. Rejoice in His calling to serve in such an individualized and beautiful way. Chuck Smith said, “God uses human instruments; He prepares the instruments that He uses. The Bible is very clear that women and men ought to leap into ministry with both feet and be His instruments!”

So, let’s do just that – leap into the personal, specialized plan that our loving Creator designed just for us. Let’s decide to be who He created us to be. Let’s follow Him intentionally, consistently, and wholeheartedly. Then, let’s go start some fires…

Christina Jessup has been the Sr. Director of Production for Calvary Chapel Melbourne (CCM) in Melbourne, FL for almost 11 years. As one of the largest churches in the Florida Space Coast, CCM has three video campuses, several campuses in Florida prisons and welcomes over 15,000 attendees weekly. Her current role at CCM encompasses many areas, including oversight of Production and the services at all campuses. She oversees the direction/vision for Productions (both Video and Live), as well as the stage, set, art direction, and the Lessons For Living Radio program. She also leads the Creative Team that puts together the visuals at CCM’s weekend experiences and events.
Christina has over 16 years of experience in the Production industry. She started her career in corporate Television Production for five years before moving toward her passion and career in ministry. Christina loves technology and creativity and has a heart for equipping leaders with the tools they need to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ with the talents God has given them.

Leading Through Change

Like many others, I’ve dealt with my fair share of change, from entering the world as a navy brat to spending my grade school and teenage years as part of a family dependent on the oilfield.

Relocating, attending new schools, starting all over again in different cities… these changes were all a part of my “normal”. And then, what career did I choose to get involved with? The entertainment business. Could I have picked a path more rife with change? Suffice it to say, even with the relentless weekend schedules and it’s associated craziness, working at a church has become quite an unexpected rock for me. Something I could count on, depend on…even build a future on.

All was right with the world until I was told that the leadership of our church would be passed down from our Senior Pastor to his oldest son. Upon hearing this, I had several feelings: excitement, anticipation, wonderment…

And then, apprehension.

And then, maybe a wee bit of fear actually.

How would this affect the future? How would the church react? Would I still be needed? Did I need to start looking for another job?

Those were all feelings that shot through my brain during that first day or so. As I kept working through the tasks at hand and interacting with different staff members though, I began to see that now, more than ever, I was going to be needed…and in a big way. Was it possible that God had placed me here for just a time as this? As I started processing some of these pending changes, I knew that my leadership, talents, opinions, reliance, and perspective would be needed now more than ever before. And interestingly enough, I found myself actually getting excited about the future.

Of course, my tendency as a flawed human was to immediately think of MY own self and what this change was going to mean for MY future and MY situation. My, My, My. Trusting in the leadership of my Senior Pastor and now a new Executive Pastor was all that was required of me. Now was the time to have a little faith that we were all put here to ride this thing out. Good or bad, God knew that this was going to happen. He had cultivated in me exactly what was going to be needed. Now was time for action. Now was the time to LEAD.

Don’t get me wrong, embracing this change hasn’t been easy. Our leadership structure has completely changed and is still taking a lot to get used to. The results required from my department have changed and are continuing to change. The expectations and communication with other staff members have changed. My responsibilities and what I’m expected to deliver on have changed.

Supporting these changes has made a massive difference. My support of our new Pastor was not only paramount to the success of my team, but it was necessary to MY success. I had to learn that my strength was actually going to be part of our church’s success or failure. My buy­-in and attitude were pivotal. My team was looking to me to figure out how they were to react and function. Evident strength from me would not only show my support for this new role but would exemplify just how much more work God had for this church to accomplish.

There are people in our community and elsewhere that are affected by our church’s sphere of influence. God initiated this change for exactly this time with exactly this set of circumstances and He chose me to be a part of making this happen. That’s a big deal—one I take quite seriously.

Have you been through a similar circumstance? Or, perhaps you’re in a similar situation right now? I encourage you to make the decision today to believe that you are exactly the right person for your given situation, placed here at exactly the right time. We cannot possibly fathom the path that God has set before us. Trust where you have been placed. Take seriously the leadership with which you have been entrusted. God loves his Church—embrace this with all of your heart. God, and your church, deserve nothing less than your leadership.

Andrew Stone is the Production Manager and Audio Director at Church on the Move in Tulsa, OK. His 25 years of touring experience have brought a unique, and sometimes unorthodox, perspective to his approach towards production in the church. He has been a key part of changing the culture behind COTM’s live events and he loves sharing his knowledge with other churches.

Andrew has been married for 19 years, rarely wears anything but black, and genuinely loves to rock. You can find him on Twitter (@stone_rocks) or on Seeds, COTM’s free resource site, as a blog contributor (http://seeds.churchonthemove.com).

Faithful

Leadership has many important facets, but none of them stray very far from the idea of influence. We all can think of key influencers in our lives who helped forge our character and outlook on life. I am privileged to have had a father who influenced the course of my life and, in fact, continues to lead me even after his passing last year.

At 92 years old he was enjoying a typical weekend of amazing health at home with my mother. He spent Saturday mowing his acre and working around the house. Sunday he made the drive with my mother to attend Sunday School and church in downtown Dallas. Early that afternoon, as was his custom, he hit the recliner to watch some golf over a bowl of soup. At some point something made him sick and he left the room. We don’t really know what happened at that moment, but he wound up on the floor, unconscious, having aspirated whatever it was that made him sick. The medics rushed him to the hospital where he was ventilated and placed in a coma.

While he was laying there in the coma several days later, a funny thing happened that taught me something simple about my father - and something profound about life. The doctors came in and told my mother his wedding ring would have to come off. They lifted his limp hand to remove it, but when they pulled on the ring, his hand clenched into a tight fist. After several more attempts they told my mother they would just have to cut the ring off because they couldn’t pry his 92 year old hand open! She was a bit distressed by that prospect, so they brought in a couple of big guys to try to get the jump on him and they finally wrestled it off. But it was a fight. It was a fight because, unknown to me, that ring had never been off of his finger. Not since my mother put it there in 1954.

That story both made me chuckle and rocked my world all at once. Standing there a single word echoed in my mind as if it had been shouted in my ear… faithfulness. That automatic, subconscious reflex to keep his wedding ring on is a picture of a man fully committed. It reminded me that faithfulness is not some religious, heavenly, cosmic idea. It’s really all about the small things. He made a promise. And he kept it.

Faithfulness is a decision, a perspective. More than that, it is a trajectory for life. It makes a direct connection between what I say I’ll do and what I do, so that the action is automatic and alternatives are not even considered. Faithfulness is a state in which I reflexively behave in a way that is consistent with what I believe.

We live in the age of the waffle; examples of faithful integrity are scarce it seems. And frankly, it’s sometimes hard to hang in there when no one else seems to care or even notice. But the world needs The Church, your church, your team, YOU to be an enclave of utter faithfulness.

And know this: faithfulness is caught more than taught. It is a spirit that is winsome and attractive and powerful. It is from the heart of God.

Your faithfulness will silently propagate itself by osmosis throughout your team and saturate their lives. And the world will be different because of it.

I learned this from a man whose word was more valuable to him than his own life.

Planting Leadership Seeds

One of the most fascinating things to do is to sit quietly and people-watch. If I block out the busyness of the day and enter into a quiet time, focusing on just watching and listening, the Lord will speak to me as people pass by. He has spoken to me many times about someone. Sometimes He pushes me to engage someone, invite them to Church, or if I’m at church, ask them if they want to get involved in live production.

I truly believe that the Great Commission can not only be applied to our churches or ministries, but also to our personal lives. It’s not necessarily a calling to preach to thousands, but it can be a calling to witness or engage just one person at a time.

As leaders we have to be aware that not only are we here to be leaders, but we are here to listen to the Holy Spirit and let Him guide our steps. For me, a big part of that is planting seeds.

“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” - 2 Corinthians 9:6 (NKJV)

So, how do you sow?

1. Tune in to the Holy Spirit

It’s important that you take time to listen to the Holy Spirit. Watch the people around you. Notice their emotions, attitudes, and reactions to what is happening around them. Take time to feel the moment and see who you are working with today.

2. Engage people to enter your ministry

Set up systems, procedures, and policies that allow you and your team to engage people and bring them into your system of ministry.

3. Push people to the next level

Once people are involved in your ministry, set up a culture and system that will push people to the next level. It’s okay to stretch people a little and push them to succeed.

4. Allow space for mistakes and growth

You will not have a healthy and growing team unless you allow for mistakes to happen. Create training grounds and levels of your ministry that allows team members to make mistakes, learn from the mistakes, and grow. This doesn’t mean mistakes are acceptable, but it does mean that you have systems that allow for structure, discipline, and the ability to learn from mistakes so growth can happen.

It’s important that when you have planted a seed that you watch for it to grow and bloom. If you plant the seed and just walk away, you will miss the fruit that will come. If you don’t see the fruit developing, you will never learn lessons that will help you the next time you plant a seed.

Never forget that planting seeds and tending to the seeds development is how you grow a strong team. It’s how God builds His kingdom and it’s how He invites us to be a part of the process.

David Leuschner serves on the Senior Team as the Senior Director of Technology and Technical Arts at Gateway Church. Gateway Church is located in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex and is currently averaging 25,000 attendees a weekend. It is the home of Pastor Robert Morris and Worship Leader’s Thomas Miller, Kari Jobe, Mark Harris, Walker Beach and David Moore. He has been in the Tech industry for over 20 years. David loves what he does and has a passion for presenting God’s Word, Worship and Teaching in a way that changes lives. Currently David guides and directs over 400 volunteers, part-time and full-time staff in a mission to facilitate over 800 events a month among all of Gateway’s 6 venues. Before coming to work at Gateway Church, David started volunteering in a local Church at the age of 11, but progressed to working high level events that included working with George H W Bush, Alan Lee Keyes, Walt Disney World, Universal Studies, ABC News, Steven Curtis Chapman, Newsboys and many other major artists. David has been married to his beautiful wife Nicole for 8 years and they love their adorable 7 year old son Justin.

Building Leaders

One of my passions is raising up young leaders, helping them to find not only their vocational gifts but also their God-given ministry gifts. I have had the honor to help raise up many young leaders in and out of the tech realm. Many of these leaders have gone on to great things and will be far better leaders that I could ever hope to achieve.

The double-edged sword of raising up leaders to leave and lead is, well, THEY MAY LEAVE! The goal of pouring into them is not to keep them but to send them. Sometimes that means they will go off and become “you” somewhere else, other times it’s merely to further their growth. You may have taken them as far as you can or they have just plain outgrown the position that is available for them in your organization.

The “Myth” of raising up leaders is that you can accomplish it in bulk. Many leadership books can put the “fear-of-God” into you and lead you to believe that if you are not raising up twenty people to greatness right now, you are a failure. The truth is that even Jesus only had 12, one of which went rogue (as if Jesus didn’t know that would happen), but He really only focused His true energy on Peter, John, and James.

Partnering with others to raise up leaders is a must. I really does take a village (thanks, Hillary) to raise up great leaders; you CAN’T do it alone. Young leaders are being influenced, positively and negatively, by everyone they come in contact with. By intentionally partnering with the “influencers” in that person’s life, you can build a community that will make a greater impact than you could ever do on your own. One true leader I raised up at my former church, Marvin, ended up as my ATD for almost five years. Marvin is the polar opposite of me, personality- and gifting-wise, but shares my passion for building and shaping young leaders. One of the benefits of focusing on only a select few makes the process more intense. This intensity will produce both results and passion in them.

Results will be easy to spot. The one way to know if you are raising up leaders is that THEY are raising up and pouring into other potential leaders. It is contagious; they can’t help it, and that is the whole point.

The Legacy of building leaders is that they will go on to greater things and influence way more people that I will never have the opportunity to do. The leadership DNA that is imprinted on Marvin, as well as many others, can be traced back to those in my life who impacted me. Men like Ken, Stan, Bill, Pete, Dave, and Jim, just to name a few, have had (and some continue to have) an enormous impact, through me, on those that I influence everyday. That is their legacy; they are touching people they may never meet, and that is awesome.

We get to do this!

Van is the technical director for Magnolia Church, located in Riverside, CA. He’s host of Church Tech Profiles Podcast and co-host of Church Tech Weekly. He also posts to his blog on Church Tech Arts.