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Seth Godin says this about art in his book “Linchpin”

Art anything creative passionate and personal
Art is about intent and communication
Uses bravery and insight to challenge the status quo
Personal gift that changes the recipient

This is why Exodus 31 is so important to me and why I want to make it important to other techies and in this case non-techies alike.  It’s about the art we create and how it is a gift to our people but how it is also a gift to God. Your acts of service area gift to God.

What we do is more then button pushing and camera holding, because what we do can change people. It can change people’s thoughts on churches, change peoples opinion of Christians, and can change peoples relationship with their creator.

When you think about what the Auditorium looks like with the bright lights and the huge projector screens and the massive speaker array get that picture in your head, close your eyes and think about what that looks like to you, Now thinks about what that looks like to people to come into our church for the first time.
Now think about what it looks like to God, I think to God it looks like this…. Art with our fingerprints all over it. Roger Blalock pointed this out to me at this session at WFX this past year, If you missed it you should go back and listen to it. He said, this important not because of what it is, but because of the relationship it represents. The most important part of all of this is our relationship with God, don’t miss that in the button mashing.

I say all this to give you perspective, because we need more artists. So keep this vision in mind, I am an artist and I need to identify the others like me.

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So we are kicking of a campaign called #thisisworship and Doug did a great job of opening up the series tonight talking about how worship could really be anything.  I reminded me of a post I did almost a year ago that was probably my favorite blog post this year. So I made a few revisions and I wanted to re-post it.

Work is worship.

This is a great concept that our Marketplace Matters team has trying to get across for a while; work is worship.  This concept really stands out to me personally though, and I wanted to take a few minutes to explain why.
When people talk about worship often they mean singing, those words tend to be synonymous. I want to make the observation that “synonymous” doesn’t mean “mutually exclusive.”  I like to sing and I like to sing to God, but I don’t tend to connect that way.  Mainly because I can’t sing, and because I am SO bad at it I feel like I cheapen my praise. In the old testament; Deuteronomy 12:6 it says “bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks.”

Tithes and special gifts are used in the same sentence.  Sounds to me like it should be something special, something important, first fruits. Singing isn’t special or important to me because I am no good at it. Worse I work with people who are AWESOME at it, so I am constantly reminded of my inability. As a result when I do sing, even in praise, I am not overly demonstrative. I have tried to raise my hands while singing, it always feels wrong.  However, I noticed a few months ago when I am directing IMAG my hands STAY up, I am super demonstrative (just ask my volunteers or look on youtube I know there are videos out there), and in THOSE times are when I most frequently feel like I am connecting with God. I think the fact that I am doing something I think I am good at makes a difference.

The argument could be made “Yeah but I have seen your IMAG and it’s not that good.” That may be but I direct it with pure abandon, I leave it all on the field. I don’t sing that way, ever. Also I think God knows my intent, when I am directing I do it to glorify him.  You could say “Does not the same hold true with singing?” Sure it does, but I didn’t say God had a problem with my singing, I said I did, it creates a barrier for ME.

I also notice the word tithe is use in there in Deuteronomy 12:6 as well. I always heard that explained as giving back to God what has been given to you.  Here is an idea, how about tithing on your talent. God gave it to you, what if you actively found ways to give back 10% of the talent you have been gifted with to God.

I would like to think that since it’s something you are going to be good at you might get more out of dedicating it to God. It might increase your connection to God, or give you another way to connect with Him.

Maybe if you are a computer geek you can volunteer to help the church with IT, or if you are a teacher you could volunteer in a children’s program. Just find a way to utilize the talents you have to glorify God.

I see very clearly for me how work is worship, How about you? Can you find a way to tithe on your talent?

While working on my personal review, I was reminded about of the principle that I have tried to instill in my volunteers.  What I did not realize until now is, as a result of that principle, there is no such thing as a win for tech.  I know that sounds a like a hyperbole, but hear me out. Continue Reading…

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I have a large poster that I had one of our interns make for me last year that was just this verse, also all my volunteers have a bracelet with this verse on it.  This is probably one of my favorite verses in the Bible.  John Acuff calls it “God’s love letter to artists” This is verse I use to cast vision to my volunteers about why we do what we do.

Continue Reading…

Some of you may know by now that my ponytail started tweeting in the middle of the Christmas production this past weekend.  @MarkHsPonyTail

The reason for this… turns out I didn’t keep @joewoolworth busy enough. In a fit of boredom inspired creativity, he came up with the idea that my ponytail should be tweeting.  5 minutes later my ponytail had an account and all of the volunteer team for that night was following it.  The next time you think your volunteer staff is giving you a hard time just check out some of the tweets from my ponytail, which apparently “did all it’s own stunts in Disney’s Tangled.” My volunteers immediately jumped in with suggested tweets, and by the end of the day they had almost 100 tweets, 20 followers and wait for it….merchandise. Yeah you read that right ponytail has it’s own brand.  So it saddens me a little that my ponytail is destine to overshadow my real social media presence, which admittedly would not be a tough, but it saddens me none the less.

Volunteer woes

July 27, 2011 — Leave a comment

Volunteers are the life blood of any technical ministry. The staff guys are great but the volunteers really make or break the team. Tech volunteers are a little different then other volunteers, I want to prefeace this with every ministry has it’s own unique volunteer challenges and I have no idea what those are. However, I am intimately familiar with tech volunteers, and this is my ego-cast so I get to talk about them. 

Tech volunteers have to be scheduled on a fine line between overworked, and out of practice. Take camera ops for example, most of my volunteers have nothing to do with cameras outside of serving on tech.  If they take 2 weekends off they will not have touched a camera in 5 weeks. So I keep my team lean to make sure no one is out of practice (yes I understand that sounds like a rationalization, but it also happens to be true). The down side of this is that I don’t have a lot of people sitting in the bullpen just waiting for me to go “give me the lefty.”

Two years ago we launched our first multi-site, when that happened I lost some critical volunteers. Anyone serving in a volunteer oriented ministry knows what I am talking about.  These were some of my go-to guys, the people I relied on most, and they were leave to go to our multi-site. Good news was the multi-site got some people who were trained, and knew exactly what they needed to do.  Down side, I did not have people to back fill those positions at the main campus. 

Fast forward two years and I have built my team back up to a great number of people, a great rotation, and now we are launching another multi-site.  In the last 2 weeks I have been told by between 1/3-1/2 of my volunteers will be leaving.  Most to the multi-site but some because families are moving, graduations, general life change.

So here I am faced with the challenge of rebuilding this team for the 3rd time in 4 years, and to be honest I am just not sure I am up to it.

Every tech ministry knows how hard it is to recruit people, but I honestly think it is tougher for us than other ministries. I am biased about that, most likely, but I still believe it.  Anyone can park a car, though it take a special person to tolerate getting the finger every weekend and continue to happily serve.  Anyone can hold a crying baby, though it takes a special person to really feel like they came out ahead in that deal. I know our first impressions people and our kid city people would rather have the volunteers who love it and are great at it. However, they can make do with those that will just do it.

That is never enough for tech. Techies are, not always, but almost always; geeks, nerds, egg heads people who speak in a language of numbers and alphabet soup.  Most have a background in computers or technology, most will be predisposed to enjoy being around the warm ambient glow of TV panels and console controls. Techies are a breed apart, not above, but apart and not just anyone can do it. 
However, the most important thing is techies get it done! When the power flaking out, when there gremlins in the machines, when all the tie line and gaff tape in the world just isn’t enough they still get it done. They produce the improbable in no time, the miraculous on a moments notice, the impossible served weekly. The best recognition they can ever hope receive is NONE, and now I need to find more of them… awesome!

This past Friday was volunteer appreciation night at my church.  We have some incredible volunteers and point of fact we just could not succeed in any way shape or form without them.  So for volunteer appreciation typically we pull our all the stops so that our volunteers know we care about them.

This year that meant making a digital set 6 projectors wide.  I think the fact that we lined the chair rail up all the way across should earn us a medal or something, seriously it was a nightmare.

Now what you can’t see in this picture is that through the windows there was rain, lighting flashing, and people walking by.  All of this was to bring the audience in to the drama, which was a murder mystery. 

We are tearing down the 4th wall one pixel at a time.