27 Feb

Today was such a cool day. I am attending the Gurus of Tech conference with my team at Willow Creek next week and I was given the opportunity to come up early and spend the weekend with the WC production team. I got to sit in the booth with a com during rehearsal and the service and pepper their stage manager (the fabulous Chris Thomas) with questions. It was really eye opening, but not in the way that I had expected. As a colleague noted, Willow Creek is the mothership. It’s the church that many of our churches based our style on, the one that many look up to as the height of church production. So I suppose that I expected to be blown away by all that there was to learn.

I was completely underwhelmed in a really cool way. Other than scale, they aren’t doing anything that we don’t do. Their process is very much the same – their people are just like we are. I felt like anyone one of my team could have stepped into the chair at any moment and done just as well (if not better). Whenever someone asked Chris a question, I answered it in my head and then smiled when Chris said the same thing. It made me feel so grateful. Sometimes I forget how blessed I am to work with such extraordinary people with so much talent and today has reminded me of it.

I love my job, my team & my church. I am so blessed.


What influences your decisions?

29 Jun

I thought this article was just fascinating. It backs up my conviction that everything we do (lighting, sound, etc) to create a mood on Sunday at church will impact how people hear the message.

Why the bias against big churches?

18 Jun

I am a stage manager at a big church. A really big church. I think the term “mega” is used a lot when describing us. I hate that, it makes us sound like a joke to be thrown away with 80’s valley girl speak. There is good and bad in it – like every other human institution.

Our leadership team has a laser like focus. They know exactly who the target audience is for KCC and it is never far from anyone’s mind. We are a “seeker” church with a heavy interest in attracting and retaining first time visitors. We have a variety of ways for curious people or new people to get plugged in (small groups, ministries, etc) which is the primary place that they learn the Bible and the culture of Christianity. One of the most frequent criticisms I hear is that we are shallow – I wonder how many people who say that are involved in these things? I mean, what do they expect? Hellfire and damnation from the pulpit every week? I grew up going three times a week to a small, conservative fundamentalist church in the deep south and I was never NEVER challenged there as I am regularly here.

Anyway, the best explanation I have ever heard about our mission was from Steve Norman who said, “We aren’t a bucket. We are a pipeline.” We don’t WANT you to come to KCC and stay for the rest of your life. That’s not it’s design or function. We want to provide a safe, intriguing place that introduces you to Jesus and fires your passion for living the life He calls you to and then go out and do it. Preferably somewhere else that needs you. Unless you are actively involved in the mission of KCC – reaching out to people who think they hate church – then no, this is not the place for you.

Our services are the main tool we use to introduce people to us. So yes, we use contemporary music. From Coldplay to Led Zeplin to Nine Inch Nails. And yes, we use extravagant lighting and advanced sound. And dramas. And videos. And slick advertising. Why on earth wouldn’t we use every single tool available to us to support the message? To capture people’s imagination? These people live in a world where excellence in media is all around them, why would they be engaged by mediocrity? Doesn’t God call us to excellence? Why then, does there seem to be so much condemnation for it in church circles? Why is the perception that if we are using all the tools it’s not “authentic” or “spirit led”? I have been going to church all my life and have never seen a group of people or leaders who are so actively seeking God’s heart. Why do others think that all we care about is the ‘wow’ factor?

I’m a part of a message board for others who work in the artistic and technical ends of church ministry. It’s supposed to be a way for us to network, ask questions and learn from each other. But every time I speak up and answer some sort of question about how we do things, I am slapped down with a version of “yeah, well, rich churches are shallow…mega churches aren’t Spirit led…our church doesn’t need a good process, we are small enough to listen to God in our planning….” or some such. I got another such response today and it really stung.

One of the rudders I’ve used to make decisions in my life is from the study “Experiencing God” that I went through maybe 15 years ago. It said “If you want to walk with God, find where he is already working and join Him.” Clearly something is happening to the hearts of the people here or there wouldn’t be so many new people every week. Why is it not taken as “real church” by so many?

I’d been thinking about doing a blog post on why large churches need a stage manager, but after the rebuke I just got from my “peers” I realize how useless it would be. It makes me sad and frustrated. So I wrote this instead and am posting it here, hopefully, to get a wider variety of comments.

I really am soliciting your comments here. Many of you are my friends from high school and are active in smaller, bible belt churches. What are your feelings and the feelings of those around you about ‘mega-churches’? What about those of you in the midwest? in Kansas (Mom, I’m looking at you. Get Dad to read this too). How about the handful of you I went to college with? Particularly Justin…your view is always valued.

Have you been to a really big church? What was your experience like? Did it turn you off or make you want more? Why? If you haven’t ever been…why not? It’s cool if you’ve just always been happy where you are :), but if you’ve actively avoid them…why?

Help me out here, guys!

11 Apr

“Art challenges technology and technology inspires art.”
-John Lasseter (Pixar)

10 Apr

Good day at work. Really good day. A ton of crazy things – audible after audible, there were alot of miscommunications (not today, but before) that lead to issues, but inspite of all this, the day never got out of hand. It was crazy but turned out well. One of those days that you feel like you were needed and helpful and did a really good job on a really hard day. I’ll sleep well tonight.

This was my favorite look tonight. It doesn’t translate as well here as it looked live, but man…it was sweet.

Mindfulness & Social Networking

27 Mar

The only ‘real’ New Year’s resolution I had this year was to be more mindful of the present. I found that I was doing so much multi-tasking, that I wasn’t doing anything as well as I’d like. With one foot in another place, there’s so much less satisfaction in a job well done. Several of the blogs that I love all began talking about this at the same time, which is kinda a weird thing. Maybe it’s a revolution. A reaction to the fragmented way our society works. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one feeling this.

Don’t get me wrong…my job requires me to multitask regularly and I’m good at it. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about checking my phone for new email/tweets/posts while watching TV with my children, or at meeting… surfing or working on my laptop as “downtime” to relax before bed with the news on. The pull of the electronic umbilical cord is oh-so-strong.

And it’s not a bad thing, necessarily. As a single mom and an extrovert, I NEED the social end and the connection to others that these networks provide. The relationships that are enhanced by these tools feed me. But it’s also very very easy to sucked into things that don’t feed me and loose track of time.

So I resolved to stop it. And I’ve been doing really well for the most part. Particularly during this season of Lent (I gave up Facebook). Here is what I found:

There are a few things I really really miss. But far fewer than I thought I would. Resolved: When I log back on, I’ll be adjusting my friend list and my alerts accordingly.

I really really really like Twitter. The quick bursts of what people are up to really seems to keep me connected. Resolved: I will tweet more and not just absorb other people’s tweets. Lurking be gone, I want to enter the conversation, not just watch it.

I LOVE Google reader. Subscribing to the blogs of the people I care about is a much better method of keeping track of them than FB profiles.

I really like Tumblr as a method of blogging. I can do it from anywhere and I like other people’s Tumblr blogs. It helps me be specific about my sharing and my reading. Both things that are missing from FB. (I wish commenting/discussion was more elegant, though)

Focussing on only one project at a time at work is incredibly rewarding and I feel like I’m doing a much better job. It’s cool. Multi-tasking is WAY over-rated. I’m of course talking about office related stuff, not in the moment stage managing. Multi-tasking in the auditorium is like breathing. There’s no way around it and you’d simply die if you didn’t. 🙂 But I find that keeping it to a minimum during the week when I have a choice makes me much better at it on the weekends. Interesting.


4 Mar

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
-Antoine De Saint-Exupéry