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Stewardship – The Red Line

Red_LineIn this time of financial instability, much has been made about good stewardship when it comes to our money and other resources. What about our most important resource, people?

Money, tools, time… these are all diminishing resources; we always wish that we had more and are constantly trying to figure out how to make best use of what we have; that is the most simple form of good stewardship. What bothers me, especially when it comes to church creatives and media-types, is that very few of them seem to be properly stewarded.

One church that I worked at had an associate pastor who, when he would walk through the creative department, would refer to us as, “the one department that actually has to do things”. While that was a long-running joke with him, at one point it struck me how much truth there was in the statement. It seemed that most of the other staff members came and went with little stress while those of us preparing for the weekend or the next big event were often burning the midnight oil for days on end. I network with a lot of church media producers across the country and found that this is a situation repeated in countless other churches as well. We are constantly at the red line.

red line; noun – a safety limit, as marked on a gauge.

Do you live on 100% of your income? If you have any amount of wisdom at all, you know that you are much better off staying shy of the red line and living on about 80% of what you earn. That way, you will have some margin for emergencies and to be generous.

If you look at the RPM gauge in your car, it shows you a red line that indicates the point at which, if pushed, you will put your engine (and your life for that matter) in danger. No one in their right mind ever pushes their vehicle to that point, unless you’re in a Bruce Willis movie.

Why should our best resource, our people, be any different?

What is the actual capacity of your team? I believe that one of a leader’s greatest tasks is to constantly evaluate the full capacity of his or her team and then pull back some. Have a frank conversation with your people and make a genuine determination on what that red line looks like for the current team and stay on the healthy side of it. This way, much like money, we maintain some margin for the big dates and busy times. A leader should have a true finger on the pulse of what the team is doing at any given time and be able to step in and change the speed in order to maintain the general health of the group and its individuals.

Anything, or anyone, constantly pushed to the limit will break down. And the saddest part is when we act naive and surprised when it happens.

After many years in ministry work I’m well aware of the busy seasons; they are what they are and will always be. The problem that I have is knowing so many incredibly gifted and talented people who used to work at churches, but have now moved on to other things because no one took the time to properly steward their people and they burned out.

I know that this post might not win me any popularity points with a lot of Church leadership, but I feel like something needs to be said. If you think that I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill, check with the HR department of a church trying to hire a video producer or graphic artist; they are likely having a hard time finding someone to take the job.

For me, it comes down to one question; do you want the best church media (video, graphics, website)? Keep your team on ‘this side’ of the red line and you’ll get it.

Vroom-vroom.

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Minutes and Moments

Alarm_ClockA minute will expire – A moment can live in your heart and mind for the rest of your life.

Minutes are largely unremarkable and not necessarily memorable.

A moment is an opportunity; a bracketed collection of intentional minutes.

We can be slaves to the minutes… we need to master the moments.

While it may be difficult to seize an entire day, we can look for the opportunities to seize the right moments

  • To listen
  • To learn
  • To teach
  • To wait
  • To watch

We all have moments we wish we could have back; don’t miss the ones available to you today.

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More than I could ever ask or imagine

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

I love this verse. I’m living proof that it is true.

I have been working at Seacoast Church for just shy of 5 years and it has been an amazing ride. The opportunity to work at this church could not have come a better time, it truly was God’s provision. There is no way to measure all that I have gained during my time here; amazing people, amazing opportunities, and amazing personal growth.

A paragraph like that can only mean one thing – my time at Seacoast is coming to en end.

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Seacoast Creative Team – Animal Style

I am excited to report that late last week I received and accepted an offer to join the broadcast team of Joyce Meyer Ministries in Fenton, Missouri. I still can’t wrap my brain around what an incredible opportunity this is… Once again, immeasurably more.

I feel compelled to send out a very special THANK YOU to Shawn Wood and Geoff Surratt; two great friends who were so instrumental in my ‘rescue’ back in 2008. My time working for and with these gentlemen will always be a key component to who I am and am becoming. It’s amazing what one can do when he finds someone who believes in him. Imagine how much more when he finds two.

Thank you so much to Pastor Greg Surratt and the leadership of this great church; it has been my honor to call this place home for a fifth of their 25 years. So much solid bible teaching, so much spirit-filled worship, so many huge-hearted people. I look forward to watching from the mid-west as you continue to help people become fully devoted followers of Christ.

The adventure continues!

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New series promo – White Flag

There are times when we get into preparations for a new series at Seacoast Church that the metaphors come very easily; so was the case as we ramped up for our next teaching series, White Flag; based on the premise that to truly find victory in Christ, we must surrender our own will and ways to his.

From the time that we were able to confirm that this series would start just two weeks after Easter, we knew that our leadership wanted to be able to promote the series during the Easter weekend services when we would be likely to have many visitors.

I love it when we have the margin to create a good ‘teaser video’ and when the focal point is so simple… a white flag of surrender.

Here’s a peek at what we came up with and also a look behind the scenes from our shoot day:

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Special thanks to my cinematographer, Adam Erickson and great actor, Shawn Leberkinght.

Technical specs:

Camera: Sony FS100
Lens: Canon 35mm, 1.4
Edit: Final Cut 7
Color Grading: Magic Bullet Looks, Gorilla Grain

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Tips for Church Video Announcements

ImageI recently checked my stats and was surprised to find out how many people land here looking for information about doing church video announcements. I love helping churches communicate well! So, getting back to my intent for this to be a resource for other church media producers, I submit the following video announcement tips:

Keep them short – It seems that no matter when you do announcements, they can be a bit of a buzz-kill; keep them short and to the point.

Keep your ‘open’ short – I’ve seen some examples of video announcements where the opening sequence is as long as the announcements themselves. Give the piece a quick pop of branding and get to the important stuff.

Make them matter – You can’t read the entire bulletin in that time (or at least you shouldn’t), so use the medium for the most important bits of information. I’m a believer that people don’t retain more than 2-3 items any way.

Use good talent – Find someone who is comfortable in front of the camera and can communicate well. Even better, find 2 or 3 good people and do more of a rotation so that things don’t get predictable or monotonous.

Use text to back up what is being said – In every crowd, you will have a certain amount of people that are visual learners; simple text graphics that back up important dates, times, and web adresses can really help people remember what is coming up.

Good audio – This means investing in a good microphone so that your talent and the script can be understood, and also a good mix of music in the edit process.

Action steps – Give your viewers something to act on. “Sign up in the lobby”, “Register for the seminar on our website”, etc. I have found that the more that you encourage people to get involved, they will.

Visuals and B-roll – Don’t just move a talking head from the stage to the screen; tell a story! Use video and pictures to help get the point across. Visuals make anything much more ‘watchable’.

Majority – Make sure that what you’re announcing is going to appeal to most of your congregation.

Celebrate – Don’t just use the time for calendar fodder, shoot video of a big church event and put together a short highlight reel to use during your announcements. This is a great way to show people what the life of the church looks like beyond the weekend. (this will also give you great footage to use for promoting the event the next time it rolls around)

Plan ahead – Get out in front of the calendar as best you can so that you can properly plan to promote or celebrate things well. I’ve seen great ideas become mediocre executions simply because there wasn’t enough time to really knock things out of the park.

COMMUNICATE – Sorry for the bold caps, but this is one of my biggest pet peeves with what I see other churches do; all too often it seems that video announcements become the poorly produced, missed attempt at church comedy, and nothing really gets communicated. Think about what a first-time visitor will learn about your church, consider what really needs to be said for people to retain the information, and don’t waste time. It takes time to produce good video and it takes up time in your church service – Do your best to communicate WELL.

This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, just some guidelines to help folks use the medium better. Do you have one to add here? (Questions are welcome too!)

Editors note: If your church is doing video announcements or even considering doing them, do yourself a favor and go listen to this podcast from Church on the Move; Incredible insights on the “why” of video announcements.

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What does favor look like?

I was flying back to Charleston after a business trip recently and after the boarding process found myself in a row with an empty seat between myself at the window and an older gentleman on the aisle. As the flight attendant announced that the door had been closed, the older gentleman leaned over and said, “Looks like we’re living right!”, in reference to having what appeared to be the only empty seat on the plane in our row, thus allowing a little extra space.

I simply responded with a nod and a smile…

If ‘living right’ means my row-mate and I were and being rewarded with a little extra elbow room, did that mean that the rest of the passengers were living wrong? Of course not, but in my extra-tired state, this short exchange got me thinking…

Why do we seem to default to thinking that good circumstances mean that we are good with God and bad circumstances mean we’ve somehow fallen out of favor?

I guess I’m still learning to understand that even when things don’t seem to be going my way that God is still working on my behalf, still sending His Spirit to draw me closer, and still loving me beyond all that I can ask or imagine.

For the Lord corrects those he loves,
    just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:12

I’m learning to find comfort in this scripture. His correction may not always look like I think it should… actually, probably never will… but, He knows best how to bless or correct me, and I’m okay with that.

How is God blessing or correcting you lately?

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Are you sure you want to do video announcements?

My tribute to all of my ‘talented’ folks who always get it right the FIRST time.

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