Putting Family First

For many of us who choose to serve in ministry, it can become a full-time job, whether we're doing it as a paid employee or not. Serving can quickly become an all-encompassing, all-consuming way of life, many times at the expense of other priorities or relationships.

On the surface, this doesn't necessarily seem like a bad thing. We're giving of our time and effort to support the local church, reach people, and change lives. And in the process, we are also probably feeling relatively fulfilled, knowing that to some extent we are making a difference in people's lives.

No harm, no foul, right?

In the Old Testament, the prophet Samuel may have felt the same way.

As one of Israel's prominent spiritual leaders, he was constantly traveling the country to serve as a judge and advisor to people all across Israel.

No doubt that countless lives were changed by his selfless leadership, and the nation was definitely better off as a whole. But the constant pull of his “work” had lasting consequences for his family.

As chapter 8 of 1 Samuel opens, we learn that an aging Samuel has appointed his sons to be the new leaders of Israel and serve as his successors. But verse 3 (NIV) notes that his sons didn't follow his ways and that they were actually dishonest and corrupt.

It's a sobering thought to consider that, for all of the good Samuel did among the nation, and despite being an incredible man of God, he was unable to direct the spiritual health of his own home.

How did it get to that point?

1 Samuel 7:17 (NIV) notes that after he had traveled his circuit across the nation to regularly judge the people, “he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also held court for Israel.”

For Samuel, the line between work life and home life got too blurry. When he was at home, he may have been there physically, but his mental energy was still being spent on leading and judging the people. As a result, his family was neglected, and he was unable to put the same amount of energy into the spiritual development of his home as he was putting into his community.

1 Timothy 3:5 (NIV) asks, “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?”

In a ministry world, which we so commonly refer to as a “calling,” it can become easy to put our attention and effort into growing ourselves in that arena. We read blogs and listen to podcasts about how we can grow in our technical or leadership skill.

But how often do we put that same amount of effort into growing as a parent or spouse?

Despite how I feel led to serve in ministry, I am called first and foremost to build a healthy family and lead them spiritually. 1 Timothy 3:5 (NIV) asks, “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?”


Samuel no doubt felt that he was doing the right thing by serving and leading the people. But his family's spiritual growth was forever being impacted by watching him choose to spend time with his church job instead of them.

This probably led to some feelings of cynicism among his children, and maybe they even blamed God and the church for taking their father way from them. The older they got, it probably got easier for their hearts to get hard toward the idea of being in ministry, and they probably started just going through the motions out of obligation or to keep peace in the family. Or maybe they just faked it to try and gain some measure of approval or acceptance from “Dad the Pastor.”

It's critical to learn from Samuel's mistakes.

When we are home with our family, we need to be home mentally, not just physically. Put the phone down. Check the email later. Leave the office and go home to have dinner with my kids. Take my wife on a date.

When we are home with our family, we need to be home mentally, not just physically. Put the phone down. Check the email later.

Our family needs to see us taking steps to prioritize my time with them and give them my full focus when we are there. The success of my calling as a parent and spouse depends on it.

To build a healthy, Godly home, I must be willing to sow the seeds of time, love, attention, and investment. Spiritual growth and health doesn't happen through osmosis. There must be focused effort to reap results.

W have to show the importance of taking a Sabbath to rest and recharge. We have to show my family what it looks like to have a healthy quiet time. Our kids need to see me worship. They should be able to watch me bless people in need. Our family will ultimately model the behavior they see in me.

Our kids need to see me worship.... Our family will ultimately model the behavior they see in me.

Our calling to build a unified and Godly home is more important than any career I will ever have, even if it's in ministry. Our family will become a picture of how I lead them, and if we do our job well and with God's help and grace, we will be able to do ministry together and make more of a difference than I could ever make by myself.

by Justin FiresheetsChurch Production Staff

Mixing Fish

Mixing Fish: A Tech's Testament

I remember that set because I mixed it and I left disappointed in how it turned out. Now, here was God showing me firsthand that His definition of excellence, not mine, is what matters. John 6:1-13 spoke to my heart.

So here I am, admitting to all of you, my peers, that one weekend not so long ago I missed it. That weekend I came to church all jazzed up, excited, and ready to give myself and all my passions over to service. And for whatever reason (or reasons), I fell short. I under-performed. I didn't deliver. Sure, everything went off without major problems. There were no large feedback issues, missed cues, or people placing fingers in their ears. But ultimately, I failed to paint an audio representation of what the band sounded like in my head--what it should have sounded like to the congregation. There is no way around it. I simply have to admit to you all and to myself that this weekend I mixed fish.

Churches and church techies everywhere like to talk about "excellence." We see ourselves competing with society's overflowing candy dish of media and arts.

Churches and church techies everywhere like to talk about "excellence." We see ourselves competing with society's overflowing candy dish of media and arts. We go head to head with that dish for the time, attention, and emotion of those who we are targeting with our ministries. After all, if we can't get someone's attention, how can we deliver the Word? If we can't affect them emotionally, how will we get them to turn off "Big Bang" and listen to what we want to tell them? Excellence in execution, in technology, and in the arts has become a tremendous battleground where we are constantly engaged to increase the efficacy of our outreach.

Feeding the crowd, John 6:1-13

In reflection though, let me offer this question: Have we left room for the fish? Here is what I mean. Most all of us are likely familiar with the feeding of the 5,000 where Christ used a boy's meager lunch to feed a crowd of 5,000 people [John 6:1-13]. Let's do a quick recap and cast it in the light of today's church nerds. Here we have lots of hungry people, no quick marts to be found, and Jesus asks Philip where they can buy food to feed the group. Philip, thinking like a technical director, dutifully points out that they don't have the budget for such a production. Right off the bat, I have to feel anxiety for him in trying to figure out how to answer that question. However, Andrew, being a team player, and one of the disciples, doesn't want to say "no" without providing alternatives. He offers up what he thinks is a lesser option consisting of five barley loaves and two fishes. From their perspective, not only was this more affordable, it was already on campus. And from this meager resource, one of the most well-known miracles in the entire Bible occurs. Jesus takes those loaves and those fishes and he feeds a multitude, in the middle of nowhere, and ends up with orders of magnitude more than what they started with.

Jesus takes those loaves and those fishes and he feeds a multitude, in the middle of nowhere, and ends up with orders of magnitude more than what they started with.

Excellence redefined

What I want to point out is what the disciples offered to Jesus was not excellence. It wasn't a five-star meal. It likely wasn't even served on a plate. But it is what they could humanly provide at that time. At some other time, they may have been able to provide excellence. In some other place, they may have been able to provide excellence. With some other circumstances, they may have been able to provide excellence. But at that time and at that place, the best they could do fell short of what they thought was required. And in that moment, Jesus blows all of us away by demonstrating that excellence is defined on His terms and not ours. In this one miracle Jesus reminds us that His ability and His power can take whatever we bring Him and not only elevate it to excellence, but do so in a way that impacts people on scales that we would not have imagined beforehand.

... they may have been able to provide excellence. But at that time and at that place, the best they could do fell short of what they thought was required. And in that moment, Jesus blows all of us away by demonstrating that excellence is defined on His terms and not ours.

God smacked me in the face with a reminder of this not so long ago during a meeting with our worship arts pastor. In reviewing the previous months of ministry, we were reading through some relevant comments submitted by attendees during that period. In the group was a heartfelt thanks that painted a beautiful picture of how a worship set had brought this person to a place of intimacy with God that they were in desperate need of. I was a bit dumbfounded. I remembered that set because I mixed it and I left disappointed in how it turned out. The idea that it gave someone such an experience was brutally humbling. Here was God showing me firsthand that His definition of excellence, not mine, is what matters. He is free to take whatever we bring in service and elevate it to meet His purpose.

by John SpicerChurch Production Staff

10 Benefits of Being a Church Volunteer

10 Benefits of Being a Church Volunteer

During the summer of 1986, I was working in a grocery store while attending college.  This job came with the unbelievable benefit of one unpaid week of vacation per year.  So when July came I had a decision to make.  Should I go to the beach for sun, fun and relaxation or should I make the strategic decision to teach 2nd graders in Vacation Bible School?

I did not realize it at the time but this one single decision put me on a path I would continue on to this very day.  With the exception of two paid staff positions, I have served as a volunteer at my local church for the next 29 years.

As I reflect on the last three decades of my life, the following are 10 Benefits Of Being A Volunteer At A Local Church:

1. Volunteering At My Church Has Given My Life Greater Purpose

There are a numerous important causes in the world and quality places to volunteer your time.  But for me, I made the strategic decision to serve at my church because it was there where my efforts could result in someone’s life being changed for eternity.  It is in a local church where a person could be made brand new and become redeemed.

2. Volunteering At My Church Has Given Me Broader Perspective

Serving others has allowed me to focus on larger issues and others rather than always on myself.

3. Volunteering At My Church Has Given Me Lifelong Friendships

There is a unique relational bond which comes from “being in the foxhole” with someone and serving together.  I have made literally hundreds of personal connections and lifelong friends because of volunteering at my church.

4. Volunteering At My Church Has Given Me A Healthier Self-Image

It may sound egotistical but there is a healthy sense of pride which comes from serving others and not being called to a lesser task.  You just feel better about yourself when your life matters and makes a difference.

5. Volunteering At My Church Helps Others

Living an internally focused life benefits no one.  Serving others relieves suffering, benefits the under-resourced, meets the needs of the marginalized, provides hope, and improves the quality of people’s lives.

6. Volunteering At My Church Has Made Me More Generous

Generosity is time, talent and treasure.  Church volunteers give sacrificially of their time and talent BEFORE giving sacrificially of their treasure.  It is a sequential process.  By being generous with my time and talent, financial generosity has been a natural outflow.

7. Volunteering At My Church Taught Me How To Make Better Decisions

When I used to teach Sunday School in college, I could have gone out every Saturday night with the guys.  However, I learned early in the process the best decisions come when you give up what is good (Saturday night with the guys) for what is best (studying on Saturday nights to serve others on Sunday mornings).

8. Volunteering At My Church Makes Me A Better Thinker

Being a quality volunteer requires sacrifice, study and preparation.  Volunteering at my church has made me smarter.

9. Volunteering At My Church Has Given Me Lasting Influence

My daughter knows nothing other than her parents serving others.  A privilege I never planned when I took my first volunteer role in 1986 was one day I would be passing on a legacy of service to the next generation.

10. Volunteering At My Church Will One Day Result In A Greater Reward

Like many of you, I look forward to the day when I hear my Heavenly Father say “Well done my good and faithful servant”.

At sporting events those in the stands pay to watch the game.  Those on the field get paid!  The same is true for church volunteers.

If  you are not volunteering in your local church, it is time to get on the field and start getting paid with these incredible benefits I have listed.

Article by Brian Dodd the Director of New Ministry Relationships for Injoy Stewardship Solutions, and author of The Two Minute Leader



Building A Culture Of Respect

For years I’ve tried to help others and their teams avoid one of the top productivity busters and stress points. It’s summed up by the adage, “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

Everyone immediately knows what this means and indignantly exclaims, “YES!” So much of our frustration and stress comes from others’ failure to plan ahead which trickles down into our world. It’s maddening. Yet we have probably also been guilty of creating unnecessary emergencies for others.

At best, failing to plan ahead without consideration of how it might affect others is an inconvenience. At worst—usually the case—it feels rude, inconsiderate, and disrespectful.

I see this most often within a team or perhaps between departments in a larger organization. Teams made up of people who genuinely like each other and wouldn’t intentionally disrespect another teammate. Yet that’s exactly what they are doing when they choose to procrastinate, not considering how their choice will negatively impact others.

You can think of a hundred examples. No family, business, or church is immune. It’s the result of imperfect people—which applies to all of us. The only solution is for each person to accept responsibility and work to change the culture in their sphere of influence.

Breaking The Cycle

1.     Begin with yourself. Make a commitment to not become someone else’s problem. Consider how failures to meet deadlines and fulfill promises create hassles for others. You know how much you hate it when it happens to you. Don’t be that guy. And when you mess up, own it. Apologize. Consider what you didn’t do, should’ve done, and will do differently next time.

2.     Cultivate respect in teams you lead. Whether as a parent, manager, supervisor, or volunteer group leader—wherever you have the ability to directly set the policy and the tone of a group’s culture, do it. Not as a drill sergeant but as a leader who inspires and brings out the best in people. Set the example. Insist on tools and protocols that when used, make everyone’s job and life better. If a conflict arises between team members or another team, get on it. Determine why and how to prevent it from happening again. Most of the time it comes down to better communication. But the solution always starts with respecting others enough to consider how your decisions impact them.

3.     Honor deadlines. Every team speaks in terms of deadlines. Yet for some team cultures, those so-called deadlines are soft and often moved. A moveable deadline is no deadline! Sure, there may be bon-a-fide reasons to reschedule a deadline, but they should be the exception and with serious thought as to how that might impact everyone involved.

4.     Lead up. You may work for, work with—or live with!—someone who is always “last minute”. Waiting until the last minute to act. Changing their mind at the last minute. You can’t control other people—only yourself—but you can influence others. If a team member or leader generally fails to think ahead sufficiently, take the initiative and suggest a specific action plan with deadlines. Propose to put together and make sure reminders are communicated to all concerned. No, it may not be your responsibility, but you’ll have a better chance of averting the inevitable frustration—and a chance to help them experience the benefits and commit to the same in the future.

5.     Protect important boundaries. Inevitably, someone at work who thinks his may unreasonably disadvantage you or her lack of planning is automatically your emergency. For example, they forget about a project deadline and now need you to stay late or work your day off or weekend. You have a few options. You can simply do it, yet you know you’re dooming yourself to repeat this in the future. You might agree to it this time because you want to be a team player, yet let them know this puts you in a tough place due to your family commitments. Or, if this becomes a frequent scenario or you have a commitment that can’t be changed, simply say you wish you could help and would have been happy to reschedule if you’d had advance notice. It is possible to be a good team player and at the same, not allow yourself to be taken advantage of.

The point is, you don’t have to be a victim. Nor do you need to be resistant and hardheaded. We can always afford to be gracious because no one is perfect. You can protect your time, your commitments, and help others grow to learn better habits at the same time.

It starts with respect. Help to model and cultivate a culture of respect with all you interact with. Learning to plan ahead with everyone’s best interests in mind is not only more productive—it’s being a good human.

By;Kirby Anderson, writer, speaker & coach.

Spectator or Participant?

In addition to my responsibilities at Church on the Move, I spend time traveling to other church and production situations. Some of these visits are purely technical in nature while others are based around teaching and training on various leadership topics. Whether working with teams in this capacity or from the time I spent on the road prior to becoming a church guy, I’ve noticed a common trait that exists amongst our fraternity of technical brethren.

Sometimes it’s easy for production personnel to stay in the back and remain completely disengaged from the spiritual side of an event.

Perhaps you can relate to what I’m talking about: black shirt donned, arms crossed, hands firmly in pockets—the universal body language for someone who isn’t sold out to (or perhaps skeptical or just watching) an event.

Knowing myself pretty well, I believe that I will almost ALWAYS do a better job when I actually participate in the spiritual side of a service. But even so, it’s still SO easy to simply work an event and ignore what God may be trying to say to me. To clarify, I’m not suggesting someone sing at the top of their lungs while on headset or worship in the dance while managing a stage but I’m sure all of us can find a way to stay aware, committed, and open to what God may be saying to us while still remembering the task you’ve been assigned.

Since joining the rank and file of church professionals, I’ve received an incredible amount of life-changing truths by staying engaged in the event and the process, even when hearing the same songs and sermons multiple times in the same weekend. Occasionally I wonder if I’m on staff solely for MY spiritual betterment instead of what I am bringing to the table! God seems to have a crazy enough sense of humor—I could totally see Him orchestrating this just to watch me get nailed by the truth over and over again. All in good fun of course. It’s easy to ignore the truth once or twice but when stuck at the mix position getting pummeled with it over and over again…well, it’s hard to ignore that kind of obvious.

Every technical artist has a certain responsibility to the message they’re a part of—no matter if it’s a rock show, a kid’s program, or a worship service. Can this be accomplished by standing at our post spectating without actually buying in to what’s coming from the stage? I think not.

Consider this: In 1 Peter 4:10 (NLT) it says,

“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”

The God-given talent we each possess is something we are instructed to use but it’s more than just showing up and letting the guys on stage bear the burden. If we TRULY believe in the message we’re sending to the same degree as the pastors and musicians we support, then we should be just as effective at spreading the same gospel through the technical arts as they are through music and spoken word.

In verse 11, Peter continues,

“Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies…”.

Instructions like these completely apply to our field. We are COMMANDED to use our skills to serve others. It’s completely within the realm of possibility for us to combine the technical and creative elements of an event and transform them into something that serves and ministers to others.

Every part matters when we are working to create an experiential worship service. God doesn’t have a place for me to spectate from the fringe, but he does have a place for my sincere involvement. Buying into the message coming from your stage can be a tough prospect while standing in the back of the room. But the unique result created from using your specific talents may be exactly what it takes to change someone’s life.

Original posting by Andrew Stone. Andrew Stone is the Production Manager and Audio Director at Church on the Move in Tulsa, OK

Prep for Service

1. Seek After Jesus

Make sure to prepare your hearts and minds as you plan and prepare for your services. God is the source of all creativity and it would be foolish for us to start anywhere else but at the foot of the Cross and seeking after Him. In the just the first few verses of Genesis, He created the universe! So many times I can focus so much on all the technical things that need to happen (which are important to pulling off a service) but forget to take enough time to read my Bible and pray for our weekend services.

2. Document EVERYTHING

From stage layouts to audio inputs/outputs list and Planning Center service flows, having these type of planning documents filled out and ready to go can save valuable time when it comes to successfully pulling off services each and every week. Putting in the prep work on the front end and clearly documenting and communicating all the nitty gritty details to the people that need to know this on your team will help to set you up for a win.

3. Test All Service Elements

Running a video for the very first time in your service is just asking for something bad to happen. Having the line of a song read “God our strength” can be pretty distracting in a service. Make sure to give yourself enough time to review and test all elements like videos and song lyrics prior to you services (and even run-throughs). For example, we rehearse for our services on Tuesday nights and everything is looked at and tested before and during that night. In addition to this, anything you can do ahead of a rehearsal or service will allow you to focus and spend time on what is important at that moment and not playing catch-up (i.e audio console is labeled and setup, lighting ques have been reviewed).

4. Rest

I think rest plays an important role in how we approach Sundays. Lately as a church and creative team, we have been firing on all cylinders, but it is important to have a day to turn it off and not be in service planning, gear fixing, and “putting out fires” mode. If we cannot lead well in our homes and personal lives, we can’t expect to lead well in ministry. It really is a marathon…so pace is critical. There is always going to be something to do, but we need to pick our battles and make sure our personal and work lives have a healthy balance.

Media Director
Revolution Church | Canton, GA

Water Into Wine

Water into Wine with Your Team

I don’t know about your church, but my church tech team pulls off a miracle every Sunday. Our team produces seven services at two locations. That is more single-day production than a Broadway show or sporting event. It’s no wonder we’re all exhausted by the end of the day. Yet, first thing Monday morning we all know that Sunday is coming again.

Yes it’s a miracle and I want my team to know that they play a huge part of that miracle.

When you look at Jesus’ first miracle in John 2, an important point is often overlooked. Our Lord used others to perform the miracle. Water was turned to wine but Jesus said to the servants “fill”, “draw” and “take”. Jesus’ mother even told the servants “do it”.

Jesus used ordinary people to be a part of the miracle.

What we don’t see in the text is how the servants viewed their part. We read that the master of the feast tasted the water that was made wine. The master did not know where it came from. But the text says that the servants who had drawn the water knew. Did they know that they “got” to be a part of the miracle?

Our team, staff and volunteers “get” to be a part of miracles in our church. My job as the leader is to embrace that concept. Make sure your team sees the big picture. I want our team to be a part of those miracles. It’s not just clicking ProPresenter.

Jesus could have performed the miracle task in our text without help. Jesus was not a micromanager. As a leader, I may have a tendency to be one. I fight that temptation to do it all. That’s not the example of our Lord. Jesus had twelve “helpers” that all had different skills, view points, and temperament. He empowered them over time to complete the tasks he declared before his return. You can’t possibly do it all. Leaders need to attract team members. Then you teach them skills, allow them to practice those skills, and then let them lead. We see this throughout Jesus’ dealings with the disciples.

It’s not always going to go smoothly. Some Sundays I wonder what happened to our brains. But we all get to be a part of a miracle. You never know what business God is doing. It might be with an individual in the seat, a viewer online, or a listener of our sermon podcast.

I need to remind our media team that Jesus used ordinary people.

Come be a part of the miracle!




Do I Really Have To Give Thanks?

An instruction we read several times throughout the Bible is to give thanks in everything. A simple statement, but seriously? Certainly the Bible can’t be right. Check me on this, but I don’t think the scriptures written back then had much to do with the future world of live production, did they? If they had, perhaps they wouldn’t have written something so…well, trite. Let’s get real, right? Maybe…

From early on, my mom always told me, “Give thanks in everything.” Talk about an irritating thing to hear when you are a kid! All it really seemed to do was aggravate me. I didn’t want to have ANYONE tell me that when I was upset or angry, even my own mom. Being far too young to understand the simplicity of the statement, it was easier to just get mad (it’s still kind of nice, mind you). Even though I never let on, I understand now that she was attempting to demonstrate a perspective on life as seen through God’s eyes.

That being said, even as I progressed into adulthood, I STILL hated when someone would quip a “give thanks” scripture after a situation had taken a turn for the worst. It’s not that I disagreed with it, it was just irritating to hear someone utter something that sounded so cliché when things seemed dire. Let’s yell or burn off some aggression, but let’s NOT use simple-minded little Sunday school quotes…

But as I grew older and gained some maturity, some perspective on life, and perhaps began to realize what my place was in regards to my work and the future God had for me, I started to consider this whole “give thanks” deal a little more seriously. Ponder this:

Of the many times Paul includes a “give thanks” statement in his letters throughout the New Testament, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 offers this sentiment in a pretty cool way:

“...Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

The Message translation (written in a way my brain comprehends nicely) says it a bit cooler this way:

“Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”

I’ll bet “cheerful” is about the LAST thing anyone would accuse me of being. But this scripture does bring up a good point. God has been quite faithful to provide for my family for many years. He’s allowed me to do something I love, work with some great and incredibly talented people, and amass a great deal of knowledge and experience that can be used to further His kingdom. WOW doesn’t even come close. Even the TERRIBLE production experiences here and there have helped shape me by helping me learn how NOT to do something.

I have slowly learned to give thanks for those occurrences as they are all part of a bigger journey. On occasion, I even make an attempt to fathom how God has ordained my steps over the years and understand how He knew every single detail of my situation far before I did. All the experiences I’ve had, the great wins, some brutal defeats, the occasional bout of loneliness, the apprehension, the sacrifices…all of it has been vital to who I am as a man and who I have become in Christ. Let us all be grateful and give thanks today knowing that our God has put us each in a unique place to not only serve His kingdom but to have a role in helping others experience face to face moments with Him. Is there any higher calling?

Original posting by Andrew Stone. Andrew Stone is the Production Manager and Audio Director at Church on the Move in Tulsa, OK

Church Tech Reality Check

I'm not exactly sure why Christians get this idea that if you follow Christ everything will always go smoothly in your life. And even more so if you are a tech director in a church, then things must always be perfect in your life, right? I think we must get this idea from Romans 8:28.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 (NLT)

The idea seems to be that if you put God first you should never fail a test, never make a bad decision, and never make a huge failure. Because “God won't give you more than you can handle,” right? Funny how most people don't check to see if that quote is even in the Bible. Hint: it isn't.

It is easy for those of us involved with a tech ministry to get the idea that if we are serving God then things should go easy for us. The reality soon hits you that everything doesn't go perfectly. In fact, things may even seem like they went easier for you when you weren't in ministry at all. But shouldn't Christians get an easy ride? Why don't you ask the Disciples or Paul that question? All of them, except John, lived their lives to God's glory and then were put to death for their faith. So does that mean that God doesn't work things out?

Gain Perspective

Well, Scripture says that God will work things “together for the good” in your life when you love God and are living out His purpose in your life. But does “good” mean easy? Does it mean lack of failure? No.

I have personally had many failures in my life. A failed media company. A failed movie. A failed web design business. But guess what, God did in fact work those things for good in my life.

Where I was concerned with building a business God was concerned with building character. Where I was wanting to be a success in the world, He was wanting me to learn humility. So, money was lost, feelings were hurt, and expectations were let down. However, God never failed. He worked it for the overall good in my life. And he is doing the same in yours.

The Christ-centered life is not a life free of pain and suffering. Instead, the Christ-centered life is one where pain and suffering have meaning. It has a purpose and causes growth. Just because you failed doesn't mean you screwed up and God is punishing you. It doesn't mean that God has forgotten about you or doesn't love you.

Maybe He wants to teach you something in a way that you will never forget. Perhaps He is trying to grow a character quality in your life that can only be forged in the fire of adversity? Consider that the failures in life are actually lessons directly from God used to perfect your life.

Brave the Storm

Sure, I hate failure as much as the next guy. But in order to avoid failure you also have to avoid risk. And to avoid risk often means to avoid following the call of God on your life. It is a rare calling that requires absolutely no risk on your part.

So, what do you do when your good just isn't good enough? When failure haunts you? Keep moving forward. Trust that God has not lost control but He is faithful to work all these things for His glory and your benefit. When you fall down, get back up. God isn't finished with you yet.

By; Judah Thomas is the Lead Pastor at Thrive.Church in Thomaston, CT.

Are You Present

I recently read an article in Church Production Magazine that I found interesting. I thought I would share it with you.

Are you really present?

Are you present with your family? Are you present with your volunteers? Are you present with the attenders of your church? I'm not talking about physically being there, I am talking about being totally present.In this day of pocket-sized electronic screens it is very hard to actually be present with people around us. We feel that vibration on our leg and now our concentration has gone from our conversation to wondering if we just got extra chips in Texas Hold'em.

Have you ever noticed how people brag about how busy they are? They wear it like a badge of honor. Maybe you have done this before? Someone asks how you are doing and your response is something like, “I'm good, just so busy.” Or someone wants to get together with you and you respond, “Yeah maybe when things slow down a little.” We like to brag about our business because it makes us seem important. As a result we are always in a hurry. We eat fast, play fast, work fast, and drive fast. In fact, my wife and I were driving to an event one day and she asked me why I was speeding because I didn't even want to go to the event. Instead of always being off somewhere in cyberland, what would it be like if we were actually present with those that we are around?

Ephesians 5:16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

The present is really the only guarantee that you have in life. You have no control over the past and very limited control over the future. But the present is yours for the taking. Most people are never really engaged with the present. They are looking forward to what is next in their life or they are looking back to the past. As a result they miss what God is trying to do in their lives today! Now! In the present. They miss blessings from God. They miss time with their family. They miss being able to speak into the lives of others. All because they really aren't there.

Many years ago people started talking about the concept of multitasking. This is the fictional ability to be able to do many things at once. If we are really honest about it, we aren't made to multitask. We were made to do one thing and then move on to the next. Instead of always trying to be so productive maybe we should focus more on being present. Making the most of every opportunity. Life is made in these small moments of time. Be there. Embrace them. Don't let your life pass you by because you didn't take time to be present.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.churchproduction.com/story/main/being-productive-vs.-being-present. Article by By Judah Thomas


Video Directing 101

Nothing else can connect a person to another moment like video. When used well, video can influence the way we feel and think and even what we do. It has shaped how we view and elect government officials, our entertainment, our news, our education, and the songs and narrative of our culture. Video has created the society we live in (and not just for the better, obviously).

Ultimately, video is a means of telling a story.

The early church invested heavily in distributing the story of the Gospel and the letters of the Apostles. Back then, the production of vellum, papyrus, and ink was high tech… and expensive. The church has always used the most advanced means at their disposal to communicate the Gospel. Video is no different.

My hope is that this series will empower you to use live video to creatively and effectively communicate the story of God at work in your community.

What is an establishing shot?

The word establish means to set up or show. In video terms, the establishing shot sets up the scene or shows where the scene is taking place. The establishing shot provides context for the viewer.
You’ve seen this in every TV show and movie you have ever watched.

Consider a sitcom like Seinfeld. If you watched the show you know that one of the main places of action was the coffee shop. Can you here the popping bass notes as the camera zooms into the coffee shop for just a few seconds before we join the cast already inside at their favorite table? That’s the establishing shot.

Why do I need it?

It is a best practice to show the viewer where you are, how many people are in the room, and what your sanctuary looks like. It puts them at ease and allows them to enter into the flow of the service.

A first time viewer to your program might be asking any or all of these questions:

  • Where are you?
  • How many people are there? Are the seats full or empty?
  • What do the people that attend look like?
  • What does the sanctuary look like? Is it traditional or contemporary?

There are few things less effective than a single tight shot of the podium or speaker for an entire program. As far as we know, the speaker could be in their living room. The voices or clapping off screen makes us uncomfortable, because we can’t place it in context. The establishing shot is not optional.

Allow the viewer to enter the service by starting with a wide, establishing shot to provide context before moving into the action. I’ll save additional camera placement for another post, but you want to place your wide shot camera in a position where the viewer can see the room, the audience, and the stage. Think in terms of showing the architecture and not just the people, if it helps.

An example

Looks like this:

Thoughts about the composition of this shot and how I use this camera:

  • this is the home base shot for camera 2. When there is no other assignment, the operator returns to this position.
  • we use this camera for crowd reaction: clapping, laughing, or responsive reading, etc.
  • I use the wide shot to bridge the transitions between the main elements of the service.
  • in addition to the above, I insert this shot into the sermon line cut every 8 to 10 minutes. I like to cut to a wide shot, at a minimum, when the Pastor transitions between the main points of his outline.

Be creative in using the camera that provides the establishing shot. If you only have a few cameras, it does not have to just sit on a wide shot the entire time. However, teaching the wide shot as the home base, insures that the operator is ready for a quick cut to capture audience reaction.

The establishing shot establishes context, and is a necessary and effective way to insure that your video is connecting with your viewers. Start your service DVD, program, or podcast with an establishing shot for best results.

Taken from the series "Technically Thinking" @ www.http://technicallythinking.orgtechnicallythinking.org

More Camera Terms

The following terminology is commonly used by Video Directors when directing live camera operators over a two-way verbal communication system. These terms may be similar and or different to those used in your organization. The importance is in the standardization of terms within your team. These terms are intended to be used as a resource for training, and or standardization of terminology for your team.


READYNext camera to be cut (live) to program out

STANDBYNext camera to be dissolved (live) to program out

TAKE/CUTReady camera is quickly cut to program out (eg. Cut 1)

DISSOLVE/MIXStandby camera is slowly dissolved to program out (eg. Dissolve 2)


HOLDStop camera movement (hold current shot)

RESETReturn to previous position (starting point)

STARTBegin prescribed movement (eg. start push)

PAN RIGHTMove camera lens right

PAN LEFTMove camera lens left

TILT UPMove camera lens up

TILT DOWNMove camera lens down

ZOOM INTighten camera framing

ZOOM OUTLoosen camera framing

TIGHTEN UPZoom in slightly to tighten camera framing

LOOSEN UPZoom out slightly to loosen camera framing

PUSH INZoom in slowly on subject

PULL OUTZoom out slowly from subject

PUSH [SUBJECT] RIGHTSlowly move subject to right side/edge of frame

PUSH [SUBJECT] LEFTSlowly move subject to left side/edge of frame

PUSH [SUBJECT] CENTERSlowly move subject to center of frame

LOSE [SUBJECT] RIGHTSlowly lose subject off right side/edge of frame

LOSE [SUBJECT] LEFTSlowly lose subject off left side/edge of frame

REVEAL [SUBJECT] RIGHTSlowly reveal subject on the right side/edge of frame

REVEAL [SUBJECT] LEFTSlowly reveal subject on the left side/edge of frame

STATIC SHOTA non-moving/still shot


FULL WIDEZoom out as wide as possible

STAGE WIDEZoom out to frame complete stage

HEAD TO TOEFraming of subject from head to toe

KNEES UPFraming of subject from just below the knees to top of head

INSEAM UPFraming of subject from just below the inseam to top of head

WAIST UPFraming of subject from just below belt or waistline to top of head

ELBOWS UPFraming of subject from just below the elbows to top of head

BUST SHOTFraming of subject from just below the shoulders to the top of head

HEAD SHOTFraming of subject from just above the shoulders to top of head

1-SHOTFraming of one subject (typically from the waist up)

2-SHOTFraming of two subjects

3-SHOTFraming of three subjects

FRAME [SUBJECT] LEFTFraming of subject in the left side of screen

FRAME [SUBJECT] RIGHTFraming of subject in the right side of screen

CENTER UPFraming of subject in the center of screen


CHECK FOCUSImage is out of focus and needs to be sharpened up

CHECK IRIS [DARK/HOT]Image is either too dark or too bright (adjust f-stop/iris)

HEADROOM [MORE/LESS]Framing above the subjects head (too little or too great)

LEAD-ROOMOpen space in front of subject (when facing/walking left or right)

RACK FOCUSChange in focal point from one subject to another or to roll out of focus

SNAP ZOOMQuick zoom in & out on subject (by manual control of focal ring)

PREVIEWCamera which is next (ready/standing by) to go live

PROGRAM/PROGRAM OUTCamera which is live


From churchimag.com

Being Ready To Serve


Over the last month I have had a real sense that God has challenged me to look at myself more in how I approach Him and the work He has for me to do. It’s very easy to fall into a routine of being a Christian or to get ‘comfortable’. Yet as Christians we must never forget that God has “called us to a holy calling, not because of our works, but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Timothy 1:9). The salvationGod has given us through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the most precious gift we can receive. How tragic it is when we put it into a corner of our lives instead of ensuring it is central.

Disguising our real motives through ‘good works’

It’s very easy to serve God or ‘do’ things for Him without doing what’s most important – spending time with Him in reading the Bible and prayer, allowing His Spirit to fan the flame within. We need to invest the best part of our energy into what God values most – time with Him. Christian life can quickly become a process of “doing” things out of perceived noble intentions. Yet if we peel away the layers of those so-called noble intentions, it can show a heart that is often proud and self-reliant, or one that is disguising its lack of spiritual fervour through the act of ‘doing good deeds’. Doing good deeds can make us feel good about ourselves, however we must always serve God from of a grateful and responsive heart considering what He has sacrificed and given us. We must ask ourselves why we are serving God and what is driving us. Is it our self-esteem or self-assurance, or is it our eagerness to thank God for all He has done for us in Christ?

How can we be more effective instruments for God to use?

In order for us to be effective vessels or instruments for God to use, we need to do two things:

1) Prioritise our time and energy to what matters most – God, family, church. We need to make sure we allow God to strengthen us so that we are best ready to serve and invest in others. That includes allowing God to stretch and mature us through developing our relationship with Him and those around us whilst also taking time to relax and ‘recharge our batteries’; to enjoy the hobbies that God has equipped us to enjoy. A balanced life is critical to being an effective vessel for God to use. As important as studying God’s Word and doing work for Him is, having time out to enjoy what God has given us in relationships, passions and interests, is also important. Otherwise, I can guarantee you that your ministry and work for God is not as effective. We are not designed to go, go, go!

2) Search our hearts and make sure that what we do, we do with the correct motives. It’s easy to fool others, and even ourselves, into thinking we are godly through “performing good works”. However God is more interested in why we do things than what we are doing. He wants to see a heart that serves Him and others out of gratitude for what He has given us. He wants to see a heart that desires to honour and cherish Him when we feed our passions and interests. God wants to see a heart that puts the focus on Him and not ourselves; to primarily see people come to faith in Christ and mature in their faith and not push our political agendas. The attitude and desire behind our actions is critical to being an effective and fruitful worker for God.

To serve and enjoy God in all areas of our lives is an absolute privilege and blessing. With it comes great responsibility in how we honour God and represent Christ to others.

Let us all be brutally honest with ourselves and put in place proper measures to make sure we are serving God from a spiritually healthy place and not from a place of deception and lies. God know’s our heart. He sees everything. Let’s humble ourselves before God and allow His grace to heal and strengthen us.

God’s work in seeing people come to Christ is just too important for us to make our work all about ourselves.


Camera Terms

Camera Pan:

A pan is a horizontal camera movement in which the camera moves left and right about a central axis. This is a swiveling movement, i.e. mounted in a fixed location on a tripod or shoulder, rather than a dolly-like movement in which the entire mounting system moves.

Back Focus Chart.png

If you find that your focus is sharp when you are zoomed in but soft when zoomed out, your back focus needs adjusting. This normally only happens to cameras with detachable lenses — consumer-level camera users shouldn't have to worry about it.

Technical Note: Back focus refers to the "focal flange length". This is the distance between the rear lens element and the CCD.

Depth of Field:

"Depth of field (DOF)" refers to the range of distances from the camera at which acceptably sharp focus can be obtained. This is a very important concept in video work, for two reasons:

  1. You really need to understand DOF to have full control over your focus. If you don't know how DOF works, then sooner or later you'll end up with soft footage that could otherwise have been saved.
  2. Knowing how to manipulate DOF opens up a massive range of creative possibilities.

The illustration below shows how the zone of sharp focus works. Technically speaking, there is only one point in this zone which is perfectly focused, and all other points are gradually less focused the further they are form this point. However, for practical purposes, we say that any image which isn't noticeably soft counts as being in focus.

Depth Of Field.png

Video Camera Zooming:

The zoom is the function which moves your point of view closer to, or further away from, the subject. The effect is similar to moving the camera closer or further away. (It isn't quite the same as moving the camera though. More on that later.) The two most common zoom mechanisms are shown below:


The Focus Pull:

The focus pull (AKA rack focus) is a creative camera technique in which you change focus during a shot. Usually this means adjusting the focus from one subject to another. The shot below begins focused on the plant in the foreground, then adjusts focus until the girl is sharp.


The focus pull is useful for directing the viewer's attention. For example, if there are two people in shot but only one is in focus, that person is the subject of attention. If the focus changes to the other person, they become the subject. This is often used in drama dialogues — the focus shifts backwards and forwards between the people speaking. A slightly more subtle trick is to focus on a person speaking then pull focus to another person's silent reaction.

Camera Angles

The term camera angle means slightly different things to different people but it always refers to the way a shot is composed. Some people use it to include all camera shot types, others use it to specifically mean the angle between the camera and the subject. We will concentrate on the literal interpretation of camera angles, that is, the angle of the camera relative to the subject.

High Angle

A high angle shows the subject from above, i.e. the camera is angled down towards the subject. This has the effect of diminishing the subject, making them appear less powerful, less significant or even submissive.

Low Angle

This shows the subject from below, giving them the impression of being more powerful or dominant.

Bird's Eye

The scene is shown from directly above. This is a completely different and somewhat unnatural point of view which can be used for dramatic effect or for showing a different spatial perspective. In drama it can be used to show the positions and motions of different characters and objects, enabling the viewer to see things the characters can't. The bird's-eye view is also very useful in sports, documentaries, etc.


Also known as a dutch tilt, this is where the camera is purposely tilted to one side so the horizon is on an angle. This creates an interesting and dramatic effect. Famous examples include Carol Reed's The Third Man, Orson Welles' Citizen Kane and the Batman series. Dutch tilts are also popular in MTV-style video production, where unusual angles and lots of camera movement play a big part.

Shooting Technique

Position yourself and your camera. If you're using a tripod, make sure it's stable and level (unless you have a reason for it to be tilted). If the tripod has a spirit level, check it.
If you're going to be panning and/or tilting, make sure that you'll be comfortably positioned throughout the whole move. You don't want to start a pan, then realise you can't reach around far enough to get the end of it. If it's going to be difficult, you're better off finding the position which is most comfortable at the end of the move, so that you start in the more awkward position and become more comfortable as you complete the move.
If the tripod head doesn't have a bowl (this includes most cheaper tripods), it's very important to check that the framing still looks level as you pan - it may be okay in one direction but become horribly slanted as you pan left and right. 

If you're not using a tripod, stabilise yourself and your camera as best you can. Keep your arms and elbows close to your body (you can use your arms as "braces" against your torso). Breathe steadily. For static shots, place your feet at shoulder width (if you're standing), or try bracing yourself against some solid object (furniture, walls, or anything).

Frame your shot. Then do a quick mental check: white balance; focus; iris; framing (vertical and horizontal lines, background, etc.).

Keep checking the status displays in the viewfinder. Learn what all the indicators mean — they can give you valuable information.

Use both eyes. A valuable skill is the ability to use one eye to look through the viewfinder, and the other eye to watch your surroundings. It takes a while to get used to it, but it means that you can walk around while shooting without tripping over, as well as keeping an eye out for where the action is happening. It's


Learn to walk backwards. Have someone place their hand in the middle of your back and guide you. These shots can look great.

Be prepared to experiment. Think about some of the things you'd like to try doing, then try them at a time that doesn't matter (i.e. don't experiment while shooting a wedding). Most new techniques take practice and experimentation to achieve success, and good camera work requires experience.

If you want to be good, you'll have to invest some time.

Rule of Thirds

Rule of Thirds

Perhaps the most well known principle of photographic composition is the ‘Rule of Thirds. The “Rule of Thirds” one of the first things that budding digital photographers learn about in classes on photography and rightly so as it is the basis for well balanced and interesting shots. The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts. As you're taking an image you would have done this in your mind through your viewfinder or in the LCD display that you use to frame your shot.

With this grid in mind the ‘rule of thirds’ now identifies four important parts of the image that you should consider placing points of interest in as you frame your image. Not only this – but it also gives you four ‘lines’ that are also useful positions for elements in your photo.

The theory is that if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines that your photo becomes more balanced and will enable a viewer of the image to interact with it more naturally. Studies have shown that when viewing images that people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points most naturally rather than the center of the shot – using the rule of thirds works with this natural way of viewing an image rather than working against it.