Category Archives: Church Ministry

Sound advice

My Favorite question “How do you know what all those knobs do?”

Those of you who know me, know I’m an audio geek.  It doesn’t pay the bills, but I love working “Front of House” mixers (the sound board that the crowd hears in a live venue).  In most venues for me it’s really an “All of House” (does the main P.A., monitors, and recording all in one spot), but it sounds cooler to say I’m working FOH today.

My main gig of course has always been houses of worship.  I haven’t mixed for large crowds, but I’ve mixed for some rowdy ones and with bands and configurations that could be dropped into a crowd of thousands.

With that being said, I have some advice for sound techs and church leaders trying to make sense of the sound man (or woman).  None of this is in any certain order.

  • Take it seriously.  I’m serious.  The PA system is not a toy, and can make or break a worship experience.  I’m all about some fun, but when the real deal is going on, it’s not about me, the band or even the preacher. It’s all about those people in those seats having an un-distracted experience with their Savior and with the Word of God.
    • One of the most embarrassing times I’ve had in a sound booth was when I didn’t take what I was doing seriously.  I was in my short stint at Bible College, and was on rotation to sit at the sound board for one of my classes.  All it required was making sure the lecturer had a mic with a good battery and that everyone could hear.  That’s it.  One channel, turn it on, turn it up and don’t let it feed back.  Nothing to it.  Got it, team leader!  So what did I do? I decided to play with the effects unit thinking no one would notice.Unbeknownst to me, this female speakers voice was reverberating, delaying, and even probably talking in demon sounds for the people in the front rows.  I couldn’t hear it though because I was too far back to realize it was coming through the main speakers.

      At the end this guy came back to me and said “Hi! My name is Mike.”  I stuck my hand out with a goofy grin and said “I’m Teeee…” He interrupted “and that was distracting” and grabbed his wife’s hand and walked on past me.

      It was one of those moments that replays in your head 25 years later and makes you slap yourself everytime you think of it and say “stupid, stupid, stupid!”  BUT I won’t forget the lesson: Take the job seriously, no matter how large or small the task!

  • Be prepared, be on time and be available.   Find out ahead of time what’s on the song list, or what the event plan is.  Find out ahead of time what is needed for that event/service. Is it going to be an unplugged/acoustic set, or will it be a full band with tracks, cues, click and everything else.  Set up a rough layout of the sound board before everyone is ready to start practicing.  Don’t hold up the rest of the practice or event!  Have you heard of a nickle holding up the dollar?  Well, you my friend are the nickle if you don’t take it seriously enough to be prepared.Being available means for things that aren’t your job.  A good example is a couple Sundays ago, we were at announcements and offering time at our church and some people came in who couldn’t find seats. The ushers were busy getting ready for that. Simultaneously, the worship director and I both noticed these people needed seats. So the lighting guy (who also happens to be my son Luke) and I jumped out of the booth and grabbed a dolly load of chairs and went to work!  You’re a part of the team, not just a production tech. Be willing to jump in there and help wherever needed and whenever there’s a gap to fill.
  • Be sensitive. I don’t mean wear your feelings on your sleeve.  I don’t mean lose track of where you are and just “lose it in His presence”.  I mean be sensitive to what is going on in the moment, in that experience.  Is it a song the crowd is getting into?  Maybe bring the master fader back and let the congregation become part of the mix.  Is it invitation time?  Don’t let the band give everyone volume shock between the speaking and the invitation song.  (I literally have the band/vocals halfway down below their normal position during invitation). At Big Church, our subs are along the front of the stage.  During prayer time, people come up there to pray.  So if people are up there, the subs come down a lot so it’s not my mix “shaking their burdens loose.” Is the speaker exhorting the congregation while they are shouting or the band playing?  Make sure you turn that mic up WAY above the crowd and /band, and bring it down as they come down.
  • Be Humble. Don’t buy a t-shirt that says “I’m humble” to prove you are humble.  Just be humble. While I always joke that when I turn the bass up, everyone gets saved, the sound tech is there to give as much of a distraction free experience as possible.   You are a team member, a vessel, and someone God uses.  BUT keep in mind, God used a donkey in the Bible too.
  • Not all venues/churches are alike. Your church may not have tracks, clicks, and cues with in-ears and foldback screens telling everyone what to do.  Your church might be a piano, and an organ with a 12-voice choir.  Your church might have that 1960’s campmeeting style congregational singing.  Don’t expect to mix the same in one setting that you would in another.  Think about what makes THAT type experience sound the best in its own style and deliver!
  • Keep one eye on the worship leader, and one eye on the pastor.  Is the worship leader struggling as if they can’t hear something?  Is a singer grabbing an ear because they can’t hear their own voice?  Grab your trusty headphones and solo their monitor mix and see what they might be hearing! Is the worship leader changing songs spontaneously?  Gotta watch at all times!The other person I’m ALWAYS watching for is the person speaking.  In our church it can be one of 3 people at any given time.   So I’m watching the side stage in case they decide to step up and say something spontaneously, or for when they are ready to step on stage to preach. I NEVER have the speakers channels muted.  They’re only turned down just a hair to prevent feed back transitioning from the floor to the stage.  I do this so I’m not caught off guard and there are never waiting on me to turn on their channel, and the crowd isn’t subjected to squeals and screeches out of the blue.
  • The vocal is in front of the mix.  Now we get to the details of how I mix.  Drums/bass ride together and have a foundational element to the mix. Pad tracks and keys are a glue that bring a horizontal feel to the song.  Electric guitar is distinct and sits just above middle if you think of the audio spectrum from top to bottom, highs to lows.   Vocals are out in front.  Doesn’t mean its necessarily louder, but often times it is.  It I always mix the band, and then make a vocal mix that I make sure is coming at you, just in front of everything else.  Even in a mono P.A. this can be done if you practice enough.One trick I use, I learned from watching this video by Dave Rat.  He’s FOH engineer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I compress the band in subgroups, then my vocals individually to control them but yet to give enough headroom to stay out font.  Having a digital board, at least a Behringer X32 makes it easy to accomplish this without having to ride faders.
  • Set it and leave stuff alone!  Get your mix together, and trust it.  Make small adjustments when needed, such as when lead vocals change, or the style of song changes.  But for the most part, let the mix breathe on its own.  You shouldn’t have to flip, twist and slide every fader on every song.  Don’t worry about adjusting stuff that already sounds good and has found a place in the mix.  Electric guitars are one thing you shouldn’t have to mess with.  If that guitarist has a good processing rig, just set it flat, get your gain set and blend it in.  You shouldn’t have to do much at all!

Finally..

HAVE FUN!  You should feel like you are part of it.  Laugh and enjoy your time, and the power of making things sound good.

Well, here’s really the last one…

When all else fails, blame the lighting guy.

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10 tips for Using Facebook For Your Ministry

Using Facebook for your ministry is becoming one of the most effective ways to get the word out about what is happening AND it’s FREE! Are you using it right?

I’ve compiled a top 10 list of Ministry Facebook tips… Comment if you have some to share of your own!

  1. Use a Facebook PAGE, not a personal profile for your ministry (unless you are the only one who is in that ministry and it goes by your name). NEVER use a human profile page for your ministry. You limit your reach by making people request a follow. Facebook’s terms of service limits use of personal profiles to individuals anyway, so you run the risk of getting booted if you do this. I wouldn’t even use a GROUP for it either. Use a page, you’ll thank me later!
  2. DO post lots of pictures. People want to know about your ministry, but your logo says NOTHING about the life of it. A picture is worth 1000 words.
  3. Let people tag themselves in the pictures, AND let people tag your ministry’s page. The more things they can tag, the more exposure your ministry gets to your followers friends!
  4. Link it to a Facebook Place (or just make sure your address is in your profile) so people can check in.
  5. Say it short, sweet, and to the point – if you write a book, they will never read it! You want people to see everything without clicking “see more”, because chances are, they WON’T
  6. If you are the admin, you can’t assume the reader knows who is doing the posting. You are speaking for your ministry, so it can’t be 1st person statements like “I” and “Me” and “my”.
  7. Post too much, and people will unfollow you or just hide your posts. Post too little, and you’ll never get the word out! Find a sweet spot. I recommend at least 1 per day, no more than 3.  The only exception I would make is for events you are either pumping up or live blogging.
  8. Put all of your information on the “info” page. Don’t leave anything out!
  9. If you want to get real creative, make a landing page for your ministry Facebook page.
  10. Encourage your followers to share, comment and like your posts as much as possible.  Gets your ministry exposure to all of THEIR friends who may not know Christ!
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What’s next?…

Many have been asking, there has been some speculation, and we have not been clear ourselves at times as to what is next for us. Now we are clear, so Melissa and I are proud to be announcing it right here on my blog…

Back in the summer, we started the process of praying over what was next for us… I spoke to friends, mentors, church planters, family members, and we prayed much about it.  We felt like God was going to do something great in Mt Washington, KY and we were going to be a part of it. Of course the first thing that came to mind was to start a ministry. We wanted to do something out of the box, and different than what everyone else is doing, reaching people that are not being reached, because there were already good churches in the area that were well established.

Little did we know, a couple with whom we we had been vaguely acquainted with were feeling the call of God for the same idea during the same time.  We quickly found one another, and it was clear that we were not to start what would look like an identical ministry across town from them. We had similar experiences, visions, and doctrine. We were all so very open to obey the Holy Spirit. So we joined together with Richard and Mindy Watson to help them as they started “The Refuge” as co-laborers in the harvest of souls.

In a short amount of time, The Refuge has become a ministry to students and has become the talk of the town. The mold was broken of how ministry is traditionally done, and how a ministry grows.  Lives are being changed one at a time, and attendance has exceeded our wildest expectations.

As a result of God prospering The Refuge in the way that He has, we have seen a new need for outreach – the families! Because Richard and Mindy are so well entrenched with these students, they can’t focus on the parents outside of the relationships they have built through the students.  And to invite the parents to the student gatherings could discourage some of the students from coming, as it has become “their” time.

So we are excited and honored that we were asked to take on the task of serving in the part of the ministry that would touch the spiritual needs of these families. We will hold weekly Spirit-led family worship times, lead Bible study/Discipleship groups, and provide marriage mentoring. But most importantly, we will do what The Refuge has been founded to do – give them Jesus.

Reaching Real People, who have Real Problems with the Real Solution.

We ask for all of our friends and family to pray for us as we start working.

  • Pray for our family, that the Holy Spirit protect us and keep us renewed before Him.
  • Pray that we remain humble, and that we will always be listening to the heartbeat of God in everything we do.
  • Pray for the people we are reaching out to. Pray their hearts are open to the Gospel and to the healing power of the blood of Jesus.
  • Pray for the ministry of The Refuge, as well as Richard and Mindy. Pray that we will all stay faithful to the vision God has placed before us.

Thank you all for your support and prayers. We are looking forward to what God is going to do as we put our hand to the plow!

Meanwhile, check us out – www.therefugeky.com and find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/therefugeky

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