I need a minute… and a guitar slide!

Things ended up being hectic from the time I walked into the building until the service began on Sunday morning. Thankfully, Tall Sound Guy was there, so I was free to run around like a crazy person and take care of a couple video things, plus we had baptisms and a syncing song. Even though I had been busy all morning, as the first service approached, I thought we had taken care of everything that needed to get done. As the first service began, I felt a little crazy, but was ready to go.

As it turns out, I had forgotten a couple of tech things, which made the baptism go not quite as smoothly as I would have liked. Nevertheless, we made it through the syncing song; the baptisms went fine; and we were ready for our second countdown timer for the worship set. As soon as we got both rooms going with their timers, I told Tall Sound Guy I’d be back. I took a deep breath and went to the bathroom. Once in the bathroom, I just stood there in relative peace and quiet for a couple of minutes to catch my breath (thankfully, no one was in there, and I didn’t have to cut in line).

And then I went back to the booth. And then ProPresenter crashed in the middle of a song. Which somehow made one of our videos disappear, and of course, cancelled our timer. Thankfully, we were able to get everything back up and running (College Computer Girl & Helper Elf are awesome; of course, we missed Computer Papabear!), and all was well. It was yet another week that we were all thankful for the second service!

And since it’s been months since the last Guitar Slide Wednesday, here are two slides played by Lead Guitar in the service during the song “Happy Day.” Enjoy 🙂

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Today’s Church Service Brought to You by…

Apple. OK, well, not really, but sort of. Considering what we do each week with two rooms and live syncing, technology is simply a part of our services. And a lot of that technology comes from Apple.

Yesterday was no exception. In fact, we had even more Apple products in use than usual, I think. You’ve seen my laptop that plays music and records the service. Well, we also have an iMac in each room that runs ProPresenter, and my whatever generation pink iPod plays music in the sanctuary. But I am happy to report that my other laptop was to put to good use yesterday, so we could show our speaker’s sermon points.

In other news, I’m thrilled to have a little break from doing four services/two rooms for the next few weeks. Will there even be anything to post on the post-Sunday post? Oh geez, knock on wood, now 🙂

Like old times. Sort of.

There was an era in the history of the worship ministry that was categorized by, well, mayhem. That is, regularly, Sunday mornings were Crazy, and involved last minute running around, panic, and absurdity; and at the end of the day, we were often simply relieved that church had happened. I recall many times that Worship Pastor would be troubleshooting technical things or doing physical labor as the first service was about to begin, or times when I had forgotten about Something Important and had to track down Anyone to maybe try and help get Something accomplished while the service began. Or praying that a last-minute media item would work in ProPresenter.*

Not to mention, very often, no one knew exactly what was going to happen and when it was supposed to happen. I can think of various times when the musicians walked onto stage likely having no idea what song was supposed to happen next, or times when pastors would stop by the booth during the first song, asking me when something was going to happen in that service.

Despite the fact that there are lots of great stories from this era, this is not a season I would like to re-live. And a day like yesterday reminds me of how far we’ve come: a technical issue was frustrating, but not debilitating; I found volunteers to help out with time to spare;** and not once did I have to sprint across our campus in a panic.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we’ve arrived or anything. There’s still plenty of craziness on Sundays mornings to go around (cf. many of the post-Sunday posts here), but it tends to be of a different variety. We actually do some planning in advance, and now, it’s mostly my job to keep up with what’s happening and when it’s supposed to happen, and I suppose, to make sure it happens.

In any event, I’m so very thankful that Utter Mayhem has become, for most Sunday mornings, the exception and not the rule.

*ProPresenter, even in its very updated, modern state still likes to crash in the middle of services or refuse to play DVD clips. Some things never change, I suppose.

**If you see my number come up on your caller ID on a Sunday morning at 8 a.m., please know it’s only out of necessity. If I’m calling you on a Sunday morning, it’s very likely I need your help… just like I know if I’m getting a text or a call from someone on our team before 8 a.m. on a Sunday, I assume it’s not good news.

I’m not quite a pro…

Yesterday, I was in the booth, but not running sound. Instead, Worship Pastor ran sound and I was the computer person.

We use a presentation software called ProPresenter for all of the media we show on our screens. This program was developed specifically for use in church and is in (what I perceive to be) a constant state of development (or we could say improvement, as is, I suppose, most software). Having become the de facto ProPresenter person at the church for what we do on Sundays, (and due to the fact that we, again, use it for everything), I’ve had a great deal of quality time with ProPresenter, have spent a great deal of time troubleshooting Pro, and have also spent a relatively small, but regular amount of time on the Pro user forums.

While we use ProPresenter, it’s not all that important for Computer Person to have extensive knowledge of the software. In fact, it’s as easy as hitting an arrow button or clicking the mouse to the next slide of song lyrics, to start a video, or to show an image. Due to the multi-room thing, there are a few other buttons that need attention, along with a couple of countdowns. However, in my opinion, being the Computer Person is one of the easiest, hardest (and generally under-appreciated) jobs we have on our team.

The actions of the Computer Person are the easy part, but there are other aspects of the job that make it pretty stressful. Consider: in this aural tradition of worship that has emerged as common practice in evangelical churches in the past 15 or so years (or the modern age of whatever-you-want-to-call-our-non-hymn-book/notation-based worship using instruments often associated with secular music, please don’t say “contemporary,” please?), an entire body of worshippers is somewhat dependent upon the words on the screens to participate vocally in worship (that, combined with the simple and repetitive, or “easily accessible nature” of this music, and all of the praise and worship music they’re probably buying and listening to, but that’s a different post). At our church, this could be anywhere from 150-600 people at a time… no pressure, right?

Today, although my primary responsibility was computering, I was having trouble letting go of concerns of Things About to Happen, and found myself focusing on those Things rather than the Things Happening. During the song immediately following a video piece, I noticed we were almost through the first verse of a song and there were no words on the screen. I thought, “Why are there no… AUGHHH!!” when I realized, I was the exact reason there were no words on the screen.

At that point, it didn’t really matter if I knew what was going to happen ten minutes later, nor did it matter if I knew how to insert a prop or edit templates in ProPresenter; it was the simple matter of pressing an arrow key that was the Important Thing. For the record, I think I did better in the second service, but in any event, it makes me REALLY appreciate the folks who serve as Computer Person every week.