Changing My Perspective

changingmyperspective

We recently installed a wide-angle security camera above our stage looking out into the seating to help with monitoring and counting attendance. As I came into my office on Monday morning, I found a large-scale print out from the camera’s image on my desk. It was an empty room, no special lights on, just work light throughout the room.

As I began to analyze the photograph from a technical perspective for angle, focus, and exposure, I was disturbed by how unimportant the stage was. I was a little appalled that the security team wouldn’t have more of the stage in the photo. It was all about the seats! Ugh.

Then God reminded me: He’s all about the seats.

On a Monday morning, a little more than an hour or so before anyone else would arrive, alone in my office, God knew that I needed a change in perspective. It’s all about the seats.

This started a thought-process for me that went spiraling out of control in my mind (I often have two hyperactive hamsters running opposite directions on the same wheel in my mind.) I glanced around my office and compared my empty house seating photo with the latest worship and church tech magazine covers and online images of amazing churches all across the country. I was struck by another thought: we care a whole lot about seeing and making the 6-10 people on stage look really cool.

Here’s a list of the questions that grew, and continue to grow, from this Monday morning moment. I hope you find them challenging and consider them for yourself:

  • Are the people hearing good sounds from the seats?
  • Is the sound singable? Can they hear what they are supposed to be singing?
  • Volume (dB) should not matter if people are singing and engaged.
  • Where is the subject for IMAG during worship? Do we need it?
  • Can everyone see what is on the screens?
  • Is the font easy to read from the farthest and closest seat?
  • Are we using lyrics like a karaoke party or as a tool to help your people know the words to sing?
  • How do the seats communicate to a video or online audience about what worship is doing or about?
  • Is our lighting encouraging people to be a part of the worship process or to watch and enjoy the show?
  • Do house lights make a difference?
  • Are visuals (motion or still) just pretty, or are they intentional, sacred, and leading people to worship?
  • What makes our facility different to the people than a performance hall or theater?
  • Is there a Holy communication in the experience we create?
  • If a church is healthy, does the number of people in the seats really matter? Is it just for our sanity… or worse, for our ego?
  • Why do we equate a church name with what the stage looks like, or what the worship team/staff is doing? It’s about the people.

I have indeed had a change in perspective. The seats are what should matter the most as we seek to be “bringers of the good news.” (Romans 10:14-15)

chriscrawfordChris Crawford is the Senior Creative Arts Director at Cottonwood Creek Church in Allen, Texas. He transitioned into his current role in 2015 after previously serving as the Technical Arts Director at CCC. His previous experience includes serving as a Media Director, Graphic Artist, Website Coordinator, and Audio Intern at First Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas.

Chris is a freelance creative serving churches and ministries to better equip the Kingdom of God. When he’s not elbow-deep in tech and creative planning, Chris is spending time with his wife Kristin and their two sons Cooper and Caleb.

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).

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.

Are you sharing your expertise to bless others?

A couple years ago I was introduced to a talented young man at a conference. Like a lot of us in this community, Don wears many hats in his responsibilities preparing for and supporting weekend services at his church. He’s a bit of a jack-of-all-trades and has a particular aptitude and curiosity for creating beauty and helping communicate through the discipline of scenic design. This I’m sure is a big part of why we were connected.

Anyway, it has been great to get to know Don. We get together for coffee a few times per year. In spite of being in significantly different life stages, our conversation always flows beautifully and is rich in mutual encouragement. Not only does neither of us like to settle for a mediocre cup of coffee, but we get to a dialogue of our passion for preparing a quality storytelling environment for our guests.

During one of our meetings, we discussed everything that goes into a stage design. The next day Don emailed to ask me if I wouldn’t mind typing some of the things out so he could chew on them further. I sent him a stream of thoughts that covered what I remembered us musing about along with a few other ideas to consider. The next time we got together, he shared the document that his leadership team uses as a guide every time they plan an event. He had reworked my thoughts into a list and he was excited to share with me stories of the fruit of our coffee meetings.

I was humbled and honored to be useful. I hadn’t really thought about my notes since sending the email. For him to have taken the time to separate them into bullet points and create a document from them that was used as it was really struck me. We all want to be helpful. I think that is perhaps the most common trait of production artists. Yes, we’re all a bit geeky, but mostly we want to help people. It was a real gift to me for him to thank me in the way he did.

When I started writing this post, I thought the story about my coffee with Don was simply setting up the list that I’m including. Perhaps the list is a helpful tool. If so, cool; here’s the link: [download]
However, I realize the greater challenge comes in at least one of the following:

Realize the genius you have to offer someone else and share it. I think that far too often, we fail to realize the unconscious competency we have in our unique areas of expertise. Those among us who have been working in our craft for a long time especially have wisdom to share in how to we make the most of our situations. It’s a crime to not share the ideas we have. These "simple" ideas will likely be a profound blessing.

Seek and seize opportunities to pour into or draw insight from other people. We all have busy schedules and the thought of taking an afternoon to do something that doesn’t directly accomplish a task on our to-do list is difficult to justify. In the short-term, perhaps so, but in the bigger picture, the mutual sharpening from your new friendship will pay off in incredible dividends.

Ask the Lord to show you new people to connect with. Commit to building the relationship. Share with a posture of open hands and receive with an open mind.

Eric Wolfe is a visual artist and storyteller. As a Production Designer and Consultant, he has designed over 2000 unique experiences, including stage, film, displays, and live events. He’s currently employed at Kensington Church, where he oversees the visual brand for live production across their seven campuses and coaches the next generation of production gurus.

Eric is an artisan at heart and loves philosophy, photography, backpacking, athletics, and cooking. He and his wife Jessica, and their sons Kadin and Reese reside in Lake Orion, Michigan, with their loyal dog Sydney. You can catch Eric’s sporadic musings at egwolfe.com or follow him on social media platforms as @egwolfe.

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3 Questions and 3 Rules for Creative Critique

There are a ton of churches and creative organizations that I know and have worked with who have NO process of evaluation. They just do what they do and hope that it works. And those who actually do have some sort of evaluation process tend to shortcut or sidestep honest and helpful critique the following ways:

• Evaluating based on how they feel things went. They avoid honest and difficult feedback.

• Measuring the wrong things.

• Not having the right people around the circle. They simply listen to the loudest voice in the room.

• Failure to follow up and have action steps for improvement.

• Miss the essential balance of both evaluation and celebration.

We need to grow and get better at how and what we create. We can’t afford to offer God and those we work with anything less than our best. So, why wouldn’t we submit ourselves to a healthy process of celebration, evaluation, and critique?

At Soul City Church, I am the primary communicator and responsible for our Creative Team and process. Every Monday our team meets to look back at the gathering we just had and look ahead to the next couple of gatherings. We have three basic rules and ask three simple questions when it comes to our creative critique.

Our rules:

1. Come ready. We expect each team member to take notes during our gathering, pay attention to more than their part, etc.

2. Speak up. If you are quiet, we don’t grow.

3. Speak the truth in love. Be brutally honest without being totally brutal.

Our questions:

1. Where did we see God move?

We share stories from our volunteers or from our perspectives. Where did you tangibly sense the presence and movement of God? How were you personally moved by God?

2. What do we need to celebrate and improve on?

What worked? Where were we at our best? Who needs to be celebrated and encouraged?! We actually write those people notes of encouragement and thanks.

3. What didn’t work, and why?

Where/what did we miss? What can we improve? Who’s going to take ownership and responsibility to grow us in that area? What was worth the risk, but lacked the payoff?

I am always surprised at the level of feedback and growth that can come from such simple questions and when the right people in the room give honest and helpful critique and evaluation. When we lay our pride down and are committed to our growth and development, we hold our roles as artists and servants in the same way.

When we know what we are called to accomplish, it’s liberating to actually hold ourselves to it.

Jarrett grew up in the East Bay of San Francisco. He came to faith at a young age, but it wouldn’t be until college that he would intentionally start following Jesus.
He met Jeanne while on a week long trip to Chicago and never quite recovered. After dating a few years, they were married and began working at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill.
Jarrett worked at Willow for 12 years as a teaching pastor for AXIS before moving to Atlanta to work with North Point Church. While there, Jarrett worked as the singles pastor and as leader and communicator for 7|22. He’s the author of The Deity Formerly Known as God as well as the upcoming title Four Small Words.
Jarrett is known for his humor and honesty in his teaching, and he is a creative leader with a pastor’s heart. Without a doubt his greatest joy is his relationship with Jeanne, who continues to fascinate him, as well as their two beautiful children, Elijah (whom Jarrett still dresses) and Gigi (self-proclaimed diva of the house).
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Doubting Your Calling as a Creative

I had a friend I used to work with at Willow Creek who is one of the most brilliant, prolific, and creative people I know. Together we created some of the most moving and memorable moments I’ve had in church. It was groundbreaking, hilarious stuff. Truly creative work!

But every couple of weeks, it would happen. Like a storm cloud on the horizon, my friend would begin to question everything he was doing. While he loved our church, the artist in him would whisper into his ear:

“Why are you doing this here? This isn’t art; this is work. Every weekend you have to pump something out and put it in front of people who either won’t get it or won’t remember it. You are an artist. This isn’t art.”

He wrestled with the fact that he not only had to come up with something new every weekend, but that his work would be evaluated every Monday. His “art” had to “work.”

By its nature, creativity tends to resist utility. When you do something as divine as creating something from nothing, the last thing you want to hear is that it went too long, or it wasn’t funny, or the dog in the tiny tuxedo walking down the aisle was a little much.

Isn’t it enough that we created something? Why does it have to be evaluated? No one ever evaluated Jesus’ sermons!

“Hey Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount was great this morning. Really inspired stuff. But if I’m being honest, it was a little long. Our kids ministry ran out of crafts and snacks before you even got to the part about divorce. Speaking of which, were there any main points? I don’t remember any. You might want to think that through for the 11 a.m. service. Also, the audio was a little rough; people in the back had a hard time hearing. I noticed a couple of people getting disengaged and doodling on their iParchments.”

While we may initially resist or avoid it, healthy critique and honest evaluation are some of the best gifts you can give to the people you serve and to your own creative development. Critique and evaluation are essential to the creative process. They let us know if we are accomplishing the mission of our organization. They force us to face the fact that there is room to grow and improve. And they put us in a posture of submission and serving.

We actually don’t create for ourselves; we create for God and for others.

Jarrett grew up in the East Bay of San Francisco. He came to faith at a young age, but it wouldn’t be until college that he would intentionally start following Jesus.
He met Jeanne while on a week long trip to Chicago and never quite recovered. After dating a few years, they were married and began working at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill.
Jarrett worked at Willow for 12 years as a teaching pastor for AXIS before moving to Atlanta to work with North Point Church. While there, Jarrett worked as the singles pastor and as leader and communicator for 7|22. He’s the author of The Deity Formerly Known as God as well as the upcoming title Four Small Words.
Jarrett is known for his humor and honesty in his teaching, and he is a creative leader with a pastor’s heart. Without a doubt his greatest joy is his relationship with Jeanne, who continues to fascinate him, as well as their two beautiful children, Elijah (whom Jarrett still dresses) and Gigi (self-proclaimed diva of the house).