The Twitter Challenge

I’m curious: If you Twitter, why? I’m more curious: If you don’t Twitter, why not? Would you be up for taking a 30 day challenge and seeing if it grows on you? I’m trying to convert a friend of mine currently, but he’s not biting. I sincerely would like to know your thoughts on the phenomenon of Twitter. If you’re up for the “30 Day Twitter Challenge”, I’ll be your first “tweet” – follow me HERE.


Sunday Tech At Bent Tree

I’m the Director of Technical Arts at my church (Bent Tree), so I oversee all the technical arts ministries. I’m coming into a new and long-awaited season of being able to put up the blueprints, take off my hard hat and be the pastor, shepherd and leader I am called to be. Praise God, this Sunday is Bent Tree’s official “Grand Opening”! After being in construction for 3 years, we are finally opening our doors wide to the community.

Many close to me have pointed out that I’ve been a little busy, a little (that’s an understatement) stressed and a little preoccupied with work the last year. I’m hesitantly glad to say that I think I’ve made it through the valley and am looking forward to moving forward as a church and as a Technical Arts ministry.

Let’s talk practical: I’ve blogged before about the team that it takes to pull off a Sunday. Only myself and our Audio Coordinator are paid. The rest of the team is an army of dedicated servants. It usually looks something like this:

  1. Dir. of Technical Arts (that’s me – I float around, encourage and oversee)
  2. Front of House audio (usually our full-time Audio Coordinator)
  3. A2 (second audio engineer at FOH)
  4. Monitor Engineer
  5. Lighting Technician
  6. Service Director (on headset with stage managers, times service, executes)
  7. Stage Manager on stage left
  8. Stage Manager on stage right
  9. Stage Manager on floor
  10. Producer (takes in overall experience, gives creative feedback/guidance)
  11. Video Director (right now the VD calls and switches)
  12. Video Engineer (this person is the camera shader and is responsible for starting the recordings for the DVD-R and capture to FinalCut for the video podcast)
  13. Camera operator 1
  14. Camera operator 2
  15. Camera operator 3
  16. Graphics Operator (right now their is one that runs EasyWorship)
  17. FUTURE: Broadcast audio engineer (right now we capture to ProTools HD)
  18. FUTURE: TD at the switcher (the Video Director will just call the shots)
  19. FUTURE: Prompt Screen Operator (we are going to move to 2 graphics operators, one for the screens that the people see and one just for the prompt screens that the singers see)

So, currently there are 16 “black shirts” serving around the main worship center on a Sunday. As you see, I hope to increase to at least 18 in the next few months. I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it many more times: YOU MUST CONSTANTLY RECRUIT! For various reasons, you have to keep recruiting. Once we have more than enough graphic operators, we’ll split and have 2 graphic operators each week. If we had too many of them, we’d split again and have one for an effects screen (which we’re working on). If we got too many camera operators, then we’d add cameras 4 and 5 on stage left and stage right.

One note: all 16 are at rehearsal on Wed. night: EVERYONE. We do a complete run-through with full music, tech and any other elemenHold high the value of rehearsal.ts that might happen (drama, etc.) each Wed. night from 7p to 9p. That’s a blog post unto itself.  Raise the bar. Set a standard for quality and value each person’s time and commitment. I don’t think it’s right for one person to miss and 15 others give up their time and be at rehearsal. ALL 16 must be there. Committing to serve on a given week means you’re “on” for Wed. night and Sunday. Our volunteers mark their availability via Planning Center Online – that’s another blog post all to itself. What a resource!

Usually I’m walking new team members around on Wed. nights, giving them the behind-the-scenes tour, introducing them to the team and passing them on to a volunteer team leader that trains them on their particulal place of service.

* Tomorrow’s blog will be about how new people get plugged in and where/how I start them out.

Another note: What I listed above is just what takes place in the main worship center. I’m working on a new position for an AV Coordinator to oversee the equipment throughout our campus. In putting together a job description, I realized we have 13 different venues (22 projectors) across our campus.

On a Sunday, “tech” is happening in classrooms, the Treehouse, the gym, the main worship center and our new FX Live family production that kicked off this past Sunday. The FX Live team has their own full tech team and uses IMAG (Image Magnification) in their production as well. NOTE: FX Live has 2 cameras right now (the same ones we used in our old worship center).

I’ll blog more about FX Live another time. You may have heard of North Point’s KidStuf – FX Live (FX stands for family experience) is based off of KidStuf – featuring worship for kids and parents led by singers, dancers and actors. They have a newly built 2 story theater/stage. I heard this past week that we have the largest family production theater in the country. Estimates are that we still turned away 200 people! We are meeting and planning on how to remedy this.

Below is a picture from this past Sunday’s official kick-off of FX Live:

More tomorrow on what I call “gateway ministries”.  SO.. what does Sunday look like at your church?

August Happenings

Besides my family, my job and writing a book, I’m also speaking twice this month. Once, this week at ECHO and next week at the Church 2.0 Local Forum – Atlanta.

I’m excited about both. For ECHO, I’m excited about the many friends and Church leaders from around the country that are coming and I get to hang out with, grab coffee and/or lunch with and take on a tour of Bent Tree.

There’s a great line-up of speakers at ECHO and I’m honored to be a part of this new conference. I’ll be doing 2 classes: “Which Worship Presentation Software is Best for Your Church?” and “Church 2.0”.

In the worship presentation software class, just like NAB, I’ll facilitate a discussion and demo between the Top 3 presentation software companies: EasyWorship, MediaShout and ProPresenter. This class is always fun to do and a great opportunity for you to see the best up-close and personal.

In the Church 2.0 class I give an overview of Web 2.0 technology, how you can use it for ministry and then share my heart behind “Church 2.0“, which goes way beyond technology. For the first time, I will be joined by some special guests (contributors to the book) that will be in Dallas from out of town. I’ll make a big announcement and share some new news with those in attendance!

For Atlanta next week, I’m pumped to meet Church leaders from around the ATL. I’ve been looking forward to this city for quite some time and can’t wait to see what God has in store. If you’re near Atlanta, I want to see you there.

As always, I want to thank my sponsors, which make all this possible and are partners with me in my ministry. My sponsor for ECHO is EasyWorship. Sponsors for the Church 2.0 Local Forum – Atlanta are EasyWorship, ProPresenter, Unifyer, Livekite and Phonevite.

Please hear my heart. I partner with companies that I think have something valid to offer the Church. Someone last week was surprised to learn that I turn down sponsorships. I don’t link my name and my ministry with just anyone. I really believe these companies (and the sponsors for previous conferences and Local Forums) have something unique and innovative to offer the Church as a resource and tool for ministry. Please check them out!

Fine Arts Day Camp Wrap-up

A couple of things that I’m proud about last week’s Fine Arts Day Camp at my church:

  • The great leadership by our own Karen Johnson (who is a vital part of our staff).
  • The tremendous amount of talent and heart that went into the week.
  • The hundreds of volunteers that gave of their time.
  • The way the various Worship & Art Ministries worked together to encourage, train and equip the children. Worship & Arts ministries that participated were music, drama, dance, visual arts and technical arts (my team).
  • My staff and the youth that served in tech all around the campus throughout the week. There were rooms all over the campus using sound, video and lights.
  • My technical arts volunteers that came out Friday to serve for the end of the week musical.
  • I’m most proud that all this happened while I was in South Carolina. True leadership is working yourself out of a job. This was a huge deal and I was able to be away and see my team flourish. I thank God for the team I get to lead!

The set built by our Visual Arts team, led by Aaron Bensko, and the lighting done by our own Scott Row:

Side close-up view of the set:

This is what 400 kids on the stage looks like:

The Crazy Mustache

For those of you that haven’t got to spend too much time with me: my facial hair is always changing. I get bored. Lazy. Bored and lazy. I go from clean-shaven (always with the “soul patch“) to beard to full goatee to just the Crowder goatee, etc. It’s always changing. Again, mainly because I rush out in the morning, don’t shave and the next thing I know I have a beard.

I had a semi-beard at the Church 2.0 Local Forum in Santa Cruz (see pics HERE). I let it grow from there and then got tired of it. Before shaving it completely off, I had some fun and took some pics of what I call the crazy stache. It scares the kids. All kids, actually. I think people take a double-take to see if I was that guy on “America’s Most Wanted”. We took some pics, had some laughs and then I shaved it off. Maybe I’ll grow it back next year for Moustache May??? Who knows.

For more silly pics of me with the “crazy stache”, including some of me in my new Igniter Media t-shirt and my favorite hat, go to my Flickr page and check out “Pics of Greg”.

This Sunday at Bent Tree we were rocking all new backgrounds. I love them! I just got Igniter Backs 04 and look forward to working them into the mix, too.

I was proud of my team. This Sunday we had a lot of first-timers. A stage manager, video engineer/shader, graphics operator and camera operator who all had their first Sunday serving. Sunday was a complex week and they handled it well. They are “official” now after going through what we did yesterday.

We had some friends and staff visiting from Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY and Brian Davis of Fellowship Dallas. It’s always good to have people from other churches visiting and worshiping with us. Check out Brian’s blog – they’ve done some cool stuff with their stage – using PVC pipe that looks like metal. Check it!

I’ll leave you with one more pic of me holding my 2 oldest kids. Katie, the youngest, was too freaked out to be in the picture. Poor girl needs counseling now.

ECHO Church Media Conference

ECHO Church Media Conference is a month away. Are you going to be there? You can and you should – AND you can still do it at the early-bird rate. I’ll be there and so will so wonderful friends of mine. Have you seen the list of speakers? WOW!

I think this would be great for worship leaders and senior pastors, as well as my tech friends. And seriously, any excuse to come to Dallas is all good. Some people I know attending the conference are coming over to Bent Tree for a tour. If you are coming or are thinking about coming, let me know, and we’ll set up a time for you to swing by and I’ll personally show you around. I hope to see you at ECHO!

In other news, the new Apple iPhone sold over 1 million units in just 3 days! Are you kidding me??? Wow! Hey, speaking of ministry, sharing, generosity, God blessing you, etc., etc. – IF you already had an iPhone and just purchased the new one AND are wondering what to do with your old one… I would be glad to use it (for ministry purposes, of course). Holla!

Bent Tree Visual Arts

At Bent Tree our Visual Arts team has been busy on a few projects. Remember the giant door? It’s now hanging in our community space (see above). They are also working on hanging giant windows with various pictures in them around our campus.

Later this month, they will be busy designing the set for our Fine Arts Day Camp (pics of that to follow afterwards). For the Fall, they are working on something special for our official “Grand Opening” in September and a look for our seeker series entitled “Pennies on the Track”. Below is an early idea (this photo was taken by our Visual Arts Coordinator, Aaron Bensko).

Aaron and his team just finished a cool project. They painted a giant hand on a wall they built for the back of our stage. What was really cool was that they revealed what the picture was week by week. It started out just a white wall, then a white wall with a few painted squares on it. Each week the Visual Arts team would reveal more of the picture. Last week the hand was revealed fully for the first time. Where did the hand come from? Aaron took a picture of our Audio Coordinator, Tom, holding his hand up. Our team of painters made the magic happen based off that picture.

Here is the wall they built and fastened to our back wall:

Here is stage two:

Here is the hand coming together:

Putting the finishing touches on:

And they’re done:

Here are some different looks of the set/stage during worship yesterday:

Here is a close-up look of a dance we did during the song “None But Jesus”:

My Summer (So Far)

It is June, my daughter is out of school and it’s officially summer! Summer can be crazy, but I’ve said “no” to lots of conferences, so my travel schedule is not as crazy as it could be.

Here’s what’s going on so far:

  • Starting at home
    1. Sometime this summer we’ll take a family vacation and may do a couple more quick camping getaways.
    2. At Bent Tree, we have a Fine Arts Day Camp every summer. This will take place in late July and will feature over 440 kids on our stage for a children’s musical. The day camp will be spread out all over our campus, using just about every room with AV.
    3. We’ll be working on launching our Life Lines Live (video announcements), as well as offering a video of our message on our website and as a video podcast on iTunes.
    4. This summer, behind-the-scenes, we’ll be prepping for our official “Grand Opening”, which is set for the month of September – with various things happening each week.
    5. We’ll also be getting ready to launch our new FX Live (family experience, kind of like KidStuf at North Point), which officially starts on Sept. 7.

The Invitation

This past Sunday I had a good friend of mine (Chris Kim), who is a worship leader in Washington DC, come visit and attend Bent Tree. 2 weeks ago, Cynthia Ware was in town and got to come out and visit Bent Tree. As I’ve mentioned before, I love to show guests around, give them a behind-the-scenes tour and allow them to attend and listen in to our pre-service, in-between services and post-service meetings.

My hope is that if you’re in Dallas, you’ll give me a shout and come by for a visit. The reverse is true as well. If you see on my blog that I am coming to your town, please invite me out to visit your ministry. I’d love to!