Let the Bells Ring!

Old Picture Showing The Tower At Munger Place Church

At my church we have a set of 48 bells, called a carillon, that are played manually.  The smallest bell weighs just 26 pounds, and the largest weighs in at just over 5,100 pounds.  So when asked by our worship leader at Munger Place Church if we could have some chimes playing for the neighborhood on Christmas Eve, I knew I wouldn’t be hauling 2 ton bells into our tower.  Instead, we went the modern route, using a Mackie mixer and a JBL Eon.  It was a pretty simple setup using an Ipod, mixer and the powered speaker, so I won’t go into detail here.  It was a project that took less than an hour for me and a co-worker.

The recordings I’m using were purchased from iTunes, and played back from an Ipod.  I can’t believe how good this sounds.  Can’t wait for Christmas Eve when the bells will be ringing in East Dallas once again!

In case you need carillon bells in your non-bell-equipped-tower, here are the links to the recordings I bought.

John Klein

Christmas Bells

Looking Down From About One Third the Way Up The Bell Tower

A Scary Ladder Leading To The Top Of The Bell Tower

JBL EON On The Floor Of The Bell Tower

Iphone And Mixer Feeding The Bell Tower

4148 – A Red Letter Weekend

I don’t put a lot of personal stuff on this site, but I have to tell you about last weekend.  To sum it up . . .  PERFECTION!

The weekend started with me going fly fishing at a local pond with my youngest son.  He caught several bluegill, and I caught a Largemouth Bass.  Pretty good for something we decided to do at the last minute, and we only fished for about an hour.

Drew fishing in a nice sunset.

Me, with a Largemouth Bass

Early the next morning, I was up and on my way to Denton, Texas, for the 28th annual Turkey Roll.  It’s a bicycle rally with about 1,000 riders.  I’ve been riding a lot lately, and my personal best in one day has been 24.5 miles, which I have done three times.  This ride had course options for 25, 37, 47, and 63 miles.  I chose the 37 mile route and rode it with two friends.  This was the hardest thing I have ever done.  There were some grueling hills, and 20-25 mph headwinds for probably 12 miles of the ride.  There were a few times I wasn’t sure if I could finish.  I did finish, though, and never got off my bike to walk it.  By the way, it took me almost 4 hours to do this.  For those of you who are experienced cyclist, that wouldn’t be anything to brag about.  For me, though, it was all about finishing.

My bike and camelback, with my registration number – 4148

Dexter, Donnie and me after the ride.

Icing On The Cake . . .

My oldest son started at Texas A&M this fall, and is a member of the Corps of Cadets.  This program stresses discipline, training, and tradition.  It’s a hard program from the start, but for the last three weeks Zac has been earning his “Corps Brass”.  This is a period of time when everything is harder.  It’s a very intense time of physical training, learning of school traditions (and reciting of “campusologies”).  The freshmen in each unit have to rely on each other make it through the most intense time of their lives.  After completing my ride Saturday morning I got an email from Zac:

Subject:  Corps Brass

Message Body:  Earned it this morning.

The truth is, he’s been earning it all his life.  Everything he has become has had a part in this accomplishment for him.  Way to go, Zac!

Zac’s Corps Brass. Hard earned

Thoughts on Opening a New Church

The First week of services at our new campus, Munger Place Church, is in the books.  We had our preview service last week and things went really well.  I’ve been involved in the opening of a few churches in my career so far, and here are a couple of things I’ve learned (your experience may vary):

  • You’ll never have all the time you want for sound checks and rehearsals. People have great intentions, and you work hard to meet goals, but things happen beyond your control, and beyond your G.C.’s control.

  • Ideas seem great on paper, but a blueprint sometimes has little connection with reality.  When hammers are swinging and saws are buzzing, you need creative field solutions to problems that never showed up in a blueprint.
  • Things won’t go 100% they way you want them to.  Sounds like every week, huh?  Just know that going in and you’ll manage your expectations and disappointments better.
  • No matter how things go, there is probably SOMETHING to celebrate.  We had a pretty good first Sunday.  Lots tweak, and lots of pressure for our grand opening this coming Sunday.  I am celebrating that our PA performed well, with limited sound-checks.  Also, our lighting was handled by a relatively new volunteer.  He completely owned it for the weekend!  I’m celebrating that we laid a very solid foundation for the relationship between band and the tech crew.  We’re fortunate to have not only great musicians, but great musicians who are genuinely nice people.  That doesn’t always happen  (Thanks, Kate).

We’re all looking forward to this weekend, and expect God to show up, along with a full house of eager worshipers.

You Should Get a Guide

I recently spent some time in Colorado, fly fishing with my two sons.  It’s a trip we’d been planning for a year and had really been looking forward to it. We fished for three days, with varying results each day.

Day 1:  We fished by ourselves and caught one fish between us.

Day 2:  We fished by ourselves and caught nothing

Day 3:  We fished with a guide and caught a dozen fish between us.

Drew Fishing with our Guide, Doug

A dozen fish between 3 fishermen may not sound like a lot, but it’s a lot better than a big goose egg!

Here’s my point:

There was nothing wrong with fishing by ourselves, but our success sky-rocketed when we had the advice of an experienced guide.

In your ministry, do you have someone who has gone before you?  Call it mentoring, friendly advice, whatever. Unless you know it all (and who does?), you need the help and advice of someone more experienced, or maybe more mature, to show you the way.

A Couple of Examples

*A few years ago, I needed to bone up on podcasting.  When Apple came out with the podcasts feature in Itunes, I dismissed it because it sounded like “Party Shuffle” or something like that.  So I was about  year behind the curve.  After asking around, I found an expert at another church in Dallas, and I hired him to come spend about three hours with me.  He ended up not only giving me the basics on podcasting, but also gave me a primer on blogs as well.  The time I spent with him gave me a head-start over what I could just figure out on my own.

* Early in my career I produced a christian radio program called Hope For The Heart.  But I didn’t start out producing.  I started as an editor.  My boss, who was much more than just a boss, was always mentoring me.  Mentoring in how I saw life, mentoring in audio production skills, management skills, etc.  Andy would explain things to me until I understood them.  He wanted to make sure I GOT things, so I could apply them to similar scenarios down the road.  He really worked himself out of a job, and when he moved on took his place as producer for the program.

* My friends Sammy and Julie:  They are such examples of how to treat others with dignity and grace.  I have watched them both pour their lives into other people, and I’m thankful for friends like these who, by their lives, provide an example for me to follow.

I promise you, there are people out there who are more skilled and more experienced than you and me.  And there are those who are just waiting to share their experience with us.


Vision and Resources

For months I have heard Paul Rasmussen say, Don’t let resources dictate vision”.  As a resources manager, I live in a very concrete world of what we have and what we don’t have – what’s real and what’s imaginary.  I know what gear we have available, and what money we have in our budget. So I have to live with the tension of what we have and what everyone would like to do.  Recently in a staff meeting, Paul fleshed out what he means, and I think it’s worth a few bullet points here.

  • Resources is not the same thing as money.  Resources include money, but also include  you (what you personally bring to the table in terms of influence, skill and other traits), systems, and human resources (volunteers).
  • Most people are pretty good with the You. A talented video producer might tend to simply take all the assigned videos and crank them out by himself.  That might be because he’s a perfectionist or control freak.  But it may also be that the systems aren’t in place to accommodate volunteer editors.  Or maybe there isn’t a system in place to allow the video producer enough time to develop people in that role.
  • Many people who may be in good shape with the You or the money, but meet with opposition when trying to expand or change systems.  In church work we often tend to operate without much personal margin, so when we are met with the slightest opposition, we retreat back to what we know.  It takes continual pushing against the status quo to affect change.

Andy Stanley has said “Your people are exactly where they have been led to be”.  And I’ve heard it another way – “Your systems are perfectly designed to give you the results you’re getting”.  Historically, our church has not had a really strong emphasis on volunteering.  In some areas, yes, but certainly not in the areas of music and worship service production.  We are committed to changing that.  At the very least, it will require three things.  First, our people have to be led to a different place.  Led by our pastor, led by me, led by our tech staff.  Secondly, it will require a culture change on our part.  We have to change the way we think about our work – who owns it, who we’re doing it for.  We’ll have to be prepared for volunteers be better at our jobs than we are (that can be intimidating).  Paul told us “The reason for increasing our volunteer force is not to get free labor, but to increase buy-in of our mission”.  Lastly, we’ll have to change our definition of success.  Success will have to mean much more than successful operation of equipment, and “professional” performance.  We’re not giving up on that, but success has to be expanded to how well we engage the body and allow our people to increasingly  take leadership in our services.

I’m convinced that doing this will help our people grow.  And it will help us grow, too.

Be Careful What You Say

A recent near-miss in some of my own personal communication has prompted me to take this opportunity to remind you to WATCH WHAT YOU SAY.

The other day, I was in a co-worker’s office when she asked me to shut the doer so we could discuss something without everyone hearing it. So I shut the door, and sat down in the chair across her desk. In fact, I sat down with my Motorola radio on my belt. so after a few minutes of this private conversation, one of the staffers in my department radio’d me “Hey Brian, I think you’re siting on your radio and keying your mic”. It jolted me to a stop, and I heard the “stylus scraping across the record” sound. Nothing that had been said was inappropriate, but also wasn’t for just anyone’s ears. lesson learned. Take off my radio anytime I sit down. it got me to thinking about other scenarios that we can review here . . .

1. When you’re using an intercom, your mic is on. Even if it is off, it is on.

2. When you’re on a stage, every mic is on. Even if they are off, they are on.

3. When you’re wearing a lav or headworn mic, it is probably on, unless you are in the restroom. In that case, it is most definitely on!

4. When you post something on Twitter or facebook. believe me, your mic is on – maybe more so than any other time.

In all these scenarios, not only is your mic on, but people are listening. and it will come back to you. I guess the best advice is straight from scripture . . .

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.
Proverbs 2:23

An Open Letter to Event Planners and Wedding Consultants

My comments here are simple:  Live rock music is loud. After I-don’t-know-how-many-times of people coming to me and asking me to turn down the band so people can talk, I have a few bullet points I would like to share.

  • When you place a table two feet in front of a loudspeaker, the people at that table will most likely not be able to converse easily.
  • “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Superstition” are great songs, but not dinner music.
  • If you dictate that the audio mixer MUST be located behind the band – well . . .
  • Lastly, so I’m not an all problem and no solution guy, if what you want is dinner music, here’s a great resource.

Got any to add to this?