Back at it

Uh, remind how all this stuff works again?

Uh, remind how all this stuff works again?

For the past twelve weeks at my church, we’ve had ONLY two services on Sunday mornings – one at 9:00 and one at 10:15. This is, of course, a switch from our “full” schedule of five services on Sunday morning – two at 9:00, two at 10:15, and one at 11:30.

Before we get back to that schedule, we have a couple of weeks of four services – two at both hours – beginning today, which means that for the first Sunday in twelve weeks, my morning involved a lot of Running Around. Not only were we in two rooms, but we also baptized a bunch of folks. I’m pretty sure every ten-fifteen minutes or so, I remembered some detail or item that needed attention (this actually began around 6:30 a.m. when I was brushing my teeth). Except a few things that didn’t go as well as they could have, considering this was our first time in three months to sync rooms, it was a pretty good day.

But the funniest part of the morning had nothing to do with having two rooms.

At the end of the first service, the band(s in both rooms) came back on stage to do a closing song. As we were wrapping up the video feed on the headset, I looked up and noticed we were missing Acoustic Guitar. Electric Guitar was playing ganjo/six-string banjo for this last song, and I saw Worship Pastor gesture to him to move over to acoustic; and he did. And because our team is awesome & Electric Guitar is a pro, the song was fine and went off without a hitch.

As it turns out, Acoustic Guitar had gotten waylaid by some visitors, and he was nice enough to show them where to go, and just didn’t quite make it back in time. However, in the few seconds that Electric Guitar was switching instruments, and capo-ing the acoustic guitar, he looked like he had never picked up a guitar before in his life.1  Since Senior Pastor was praying at this point, I’m guessing not many people saw that moment. I was even told that Acoustic Guitar started to come on stage, peaking through the curtain on the side of the stage, but then backed out. All in all, it was a pretty funny moment. And in the second service, all hands were on deck and in the right place for the closing song.

 


1. It also reminded me of the TV show from the late ’80s/early ’90s, Quantam Leap – when the guy appears in a new situation/time period and has to figure out who he is, where he is, and what’s going on. Random, I know, but it was kind of fitting.

And because the internet, here’s the opening of the show with a much more detailed explanation:

 

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On the fly…

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My typical view on Sundays

Things have been a little more laid back this summer at the church. This mostly has to do with our schedule (three services instead of four, rehearsals only on Sunday mornings, etc.) and our team’s availability (or lack thereof: vacations, mission trips, camps, etc.). Our fall schedule kicks in three weeks from yesterday, and I know there are a few things that need some detailed attention.

However, even with detailed attention, stuff happens; things don’t go quite as planned; or things don’t turn out exactly as you envisioned, regardless of planning. I’d say this is especially true at church, and even more true in a church environment with live syncing and video. For example, yesterday morning, we ended up being short one worship leader. I called one of our team members at 8 a.m. asking her to come sing (I’ve mentioned the implications of a phone call from me on a Sunday morning)… and she kindly obliged, showing up not very many minutes later, and sounded great in both services.

At another point in the service, we had to change our camera shot to show a large group of people gathered at the front of the room. Thanks to some miscommunication, our camera operator was not at the camera at this point, so our Sanctuary Sound Guy had to run over to the camera to make the adjustment. That worked out great, but when Senior Pastor returned to his normal location on stage, his head was no longer in the shot, which cut off exactly at his shoulders. Thankfully, this was during a prayer time, so most people in the room weren’t looking at the screen. Unfortunately, this was during a prayer time, and when I looked at the screen, I laughed out loud.

So there are certainly some things we need to work on, fix, improve, and adjust in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, again, I apologize for disrupting your worship experience if you sit near the booth.

Could someone get that?

This weekend and week have involved a bunch of extra stuff on the calendar, making my days seem simultaneously long and super short, if that’s at all possible. Generally, the piano teacher stuff in my life is fairly low key, except around recital time, but there was a special piano event on Saturday of this week AND a student competition all day on Sunday. Plus, I also gave the pre-concert lecture for the Atlanta Symphony performance at our Performing Arts Center on Sunday. We also had our musicology student symposium today; our last special Wednesday night prayer service at the church tonight, and oh, I’m going to Austin, Texas tomorrow. Whew!

So obviously, I’m watching basketball, not revising my conference paper, not packing, and blogging about it. And since I didn’t post an official post-Sunday post, here’s a combo post-Sunday/post-Wednesday post…

On Sunday, Youth Pastor was in our room advertising an upcoming youth event, and was on screen in the Other Room via video. Apparently, (and I admit, I only heard about this over the headset during the this time), a phone rang in the Other Room. While this probably isn’t all that uncommon in a room packed full of people, it’s not all that common when the phone ringing is in a bag on stage. As I was told, it was Sanctuary Worship Leader’s bag, and in the middle of the announcements, he picked up his bag (and ringing phone) and walked it off stage. Better that than to let it keep ringing, I guess? For the record, we do include this image in our announcements…

phones

For the past few Wednesdays, we’ve been having special Wednesday evening prayer services at the church. These services have been really creative and diverse in terms of planning and programming (thanks to Youth Pastor and College Pastor), and have been a lot of fun (and maybe a little work) to be a part of. I’ve mentioned that we use quite a few Apple products in our services, and generally both Worship Pastor’s and my laptops are in commission during any service. We also both have Messages set up on our laptops, so whenever we receive texts, they show up as a notification on our phones AND laptops. This is quite convenient, and can basically turn text conversations into chat (if you’re ever wondering how in the world I can respond SO quickly to your text, I just might be typing it on my laptop keyboard).

There’s also a nifty sound effect that alerts you when you receive a new message on the laptop. But when your laptop is connected to a sound system, that nifty sound effect for incoming messages alerts everyone in the room that you’ve received a message. Like tonight, when I received a couple of texts during the pre-service music, and Worship Pastor received a text during the service. I suppose we should investigate disabling the feature during church services 🙂

Help!

Often, I find it’s easier to do things myself than to (go to the trouble and) ask someone for assistance. Beyond the asking, said person may require explanation, training, or instruction. Further, if one is inclined to be a perfectionist (I might be), and/or have strong opinions about how Things Ought To Be (I sometimes do), then getting others involved also adds the risk of Thing NOT Being Done the Way They Ought To Be (gasp). But sometimes, regardless of these concerns, the workload or time commitment or situation necessarily demands Help.

And that’s where we are on Sundays (and in our ministry area) at the church. Although Worship Pastor has noted that the two of us can certainly get a lot done, it’s become clear that in order for us to improve what we do, we need help. And on my side of things, help arrived yesterday in the booth in the form of an intern apprentice, and I relinquished control of the sound board to Tall Sound Guy.*

He’s tall

This allowed me to give most of my attention to tracking both of our rooms; keeping up with what’s supposed to happen and when; and also (sort of) keeping tabs on the bigger picture and overall quality of what we do. Yet, even with this newfound freedom, we weren’t immune to Things Gone Awry. We had baptisms in both services, and in the second service, we went from the baptism via video from the Sanctuary to a welcome via video by College Pastor from our room. The switch was made smoothly, except when we pulled up the live video of College Pastor, it was only College Pastor from the shoulders down… much like the above picture. Except that photo was taken as a joke, you know, to try to be funny. But it was just awkward when Headless College Pastor was on the screens for a couple of seconds. So yeah, here’s to help and some room for improvement 🙂

*The soundboard is at an optimal height for me. Maybe not so much for Tall Sound Guy.

Deep Breath

As with many schedules in this college town, the church’s schedule tends to revolve around the University’s calendar. So yesterday was our “deep breath” Sunday–the last Sunday before all of the students come back into town. As mentioned last week, we were in one room yesterday, and overall, it was a nice and easy kind of day, made better by a couple of guitar slides from Lead Guitar. And since we were in one room, Sanctuary Worship Leader was leading/playing guitar in our room, with Worship Pastor playing and only singing the closing song.

However, in the category of Things You’d Never Know Were Wrong (unless you saw the crazy lady in the sound booth freaking out), the end of the second service didn’t quite go as planned. As we were wrapping things up, our Guest Speaker got to his final point, which was the cue for the band to come out to play the closing song. However, there was no sign of the band. I called back to the band room and yelled at spoke to someone, asking “Are y’all coming out?!? WHY AREN’T YOU ON STAGE?!?” to which she replied, “Where’s Worship Pastor?!?” After a quick glance around, I replied, “I have no idea, but y’all need to be on stage NOW!” The team walked on the stage, looking at me for help and/or looking slightly dismayed, and Lead Guitar giving me an I-have-no-idea-where-he-is look/shrug. At this point, Guest Speaker was finishing, and I was basically yelling at Sanctuary Worship Leader (and the rest of the band) through their in-ear monitors.

It went something like this:
To SWL: “You have to start playing!”
As he was approaching the piano: “NO, strum your guitar!”
Realizing Worship Pastor wasn’t showing up: “YOU HAVE TO SING THE SONG!”
And since our closing song almost always serves as our offertory, as he began the introduction, “CALL THE USHERS!!”

To his and the band’s credit, the offering happened, the song was great, and I’m sure no one had any idea that this was NOT the plan. I, on the other hand, was calmly freaking out. College Pastor was in the booth for this service, and throughout the song, I kept looking at him and saying, “Where IS he? What’s going on?!?” but it was as the song was ending that I had the awful, panicked thought that something might be Wrong. And then I felt really, really guilty for freaking out and being so irritated.

Thankfully, Worship Pastor was fine, and was simply confounded by the length of Guest Speaker’s sermon. On our weekly service plan, we allot thirty-five minutes for the sermon, and Senior Pastor never rarely fits within this timeframe. Yesterday, however, Guest Speaker told us he would speak for around thirty minutes, and was true to his word in the first service. Since we’re always a part of two services, it’s not unusual for our team members to move around our campus and/or attend to other tasks during the second service. So yesterday in the second service, Worship Pastor left the building and figured he easily had at least 15-20 minutes before he needed to be back on stage. But Guest Speaker spoke for a mere 25 minutes, and, well, Worship Pastor didn’t make it back in time.

So here’s to Sanctuary Worship Leader for stepping up in a crunch, and doing a fantastic job as well. Along with my apologies to him and the rest of the team for all of the crazy yelling 🙂