Thought I’d reach back for today’s post – this is an article I wrote about a year ago & still feel pretty much the same way:

01_band.jpg

This post got it’s start after reading and thinking about Eric’s little diddy over on his site about professionalism in the church. I believe places have different vibes. Churches, restaurants, retail stores, museums, malls, theme parks, etc. You walk into a “Red Robin” and it has a loud, colorful, busy vibe – you expect a noisy, family, & fun time. Walk into a Ruth’s Kris and it’s dark, the servers are dressed up, and it’s candle lit. You expect a quiet, exquisite, expensive, and unforgettable dinner.

I bring this up because as of late LifeChurch seems to have lost some of its vibe. Now I know this my make some of my more charismatic friends uncomfortable – those who attribute absolutely everything to the Holy Spirit, and what God is or isn’t doing in the church. Now I’m not one to demystify Christianity, but I don’t think that the Holy Spirit is 100% responsible for the vibe. I’m more along the lines that we do everything that we are gifted and called to do – the very best that we can, and then we rely on God to show up and do something amazing every week. At least that’s my opinion. That said, I believe that there are some things that are definite vibe killers in the church worship service. Some very practical, some kind of liquid – hard to really describe. Here’s some things that come to mind – some that we are dealing with, some that we’re not (and of course this is from my perspective in a medium size church in southern California).

Lighting: too much lighting, not enough lighting (rarely the case), bad lighting (ie 80’s and 90’s colors), no haze, too much haze (or fog)

Messy Stage: garbage, drinks, food, guitar cases, guitars with no stands, non-matching guitar stands, sheet music, cables strewn about (ooh I like how that sounds), YELLOW, ORANGE, GREEN, or any other colored extension cords, leaning mic stands, non-matching mic stands, mic stands to hold hand-held mics, dirty & scratched drum shields, ugly amps, poorly placed musicians and vocalists, monitors

Messy Room: garbage, unnecessary junk, furniture strewn about (there we go again!), crooked screens, unswept or unvacumed floors, anything unorganized

Bad Band/Speaker attire: I know, a touchy subject, yet very important I think. Football jerseys and bermuda shorts say a whole lot about a person on stage. I’m not really a designer but I do know that clothes can either help you or hurt you

Bad Communication from the Stage: no smiling, no excitement, not looking people in the eye, no passion, mis-communication (wrong times/dates/stumbling through things, or worse – asking people in the audience), no leadership – especially in worship music, reading notes, having a music stand in front of your face (having a music stand at all!)

Bad Sound: poor acoustics, too loud, not loud enough, bad frequencies (this is usually what people mean when they say that it’s too loud), bad wireless mics, poorly mixed music

Bad Video: wrong words on screens during worship music, poorly planned backgrounds (are you still using nature stills?), too many words on the screens with a bad font (check this blog post), projectors not filling the screen(s), unfocused projectors, bad signals (flicker, distortion, etc.), bad IMAG (camera shots – too much to talk about in this post)

Bad Flow of Service: This is one of my BIG pet peeves. Bad transitions between songs, and other service elements, dead air, videos not firing on time, bad lighting cues, band not ready at the beginning of service or after message, speakers not prepared for their responsibilities, last minute changes that don’t get communicated to the entire team, announcements that go on forever (another future post)

Those are some that I’ve noticed, and some that we are dealing with. The way I look at it is if we can take care of these distractions and poor planning, we create an atmosphere where there is more freedom for people to be touched by God. We create the vibe, God does the work in the heart.

What about you, what are your vibe killers?

That picture is of a band called dEUS, I just thought it had excellent vibe…

Added for 09:

Wrong Words for Songs: This one I’ve noticed more being on the outside of the worship team/tech team. Wrong words & bad timing is a major vibe killer, people need those words up there – my guess is that a majority of people don’t know the songs as well as you do. I try and tell tech people to to change those words as quickly as possible, as soon as the last line is sung – switch it. Also worship leaders need to work closely with tech people on phrasing; how does the song flow, and how do you plan on singing it? Make sure you have the right words up there too. There’s a lot of options in phrasing/wording that should be nailed down pre-service.

No Pre-Production Meeting: I think I don’t need to spend much time explaining. If you don’t tell people where they’re going how can you expect them to get there in one peice? Plus this is a great place to spend some good time building people up, praying together, and hearing new ideas.

No Post-Production Meeting: I think this may be the key to taking the worship experience to the next level. I’ve never been successful in implimenting this, but I’ve heard some really good stories from other churches that do this. Basically people (tech, band, speakers, etc) should expect to have an open, adult conversation about what worked, what didn’t, where we could sharpen things up. This creates an atmosphere where critique becomes healthy (not just having to talk to people when they miss the mark). Also, you can celebrate together when things go right!

Designer. Communicator. Solutions Architect. Husband. Father of 4. Friend of God. I've dabbled in building, graphic design, worship, music, media, communications, connections, leadership, and now I'm an executive pastor at Rancho Community Church in Southern California.

9 Comments

  1. Melissa

    I agree that all of those things are distractions and can create an invironment where it seems as those in leadership do not care. After leaving a mega church where they had all of this stuff nailed down 99% of the time, I have to say that much of what makes a place is the people in it. You can be in a 100% perfect church as far as atmosphere, but not trust the pastor or others in leadership. That is also quite the vibe killer. A new person to the church needs to be able to connect with someone as well as experience God in the service with minimal distractions. Somehow we have to keep the balance of showing people love inside and outside of the “service” as I have found most real ministry happens outside of that one hour.

  2. Rachel

    People are what make the diferrence for me. I know everyone has different wants and needs for their home church and for what helps them connect better with God, but I’d like to mention that I have attended many, many churches that have had great productions, timing, costly and matching equipment, worship and all those things, but my experience at most (not all) of them has been awful. At one very well-known (across the nation) church in East County San Diego, I was shunned – literally – when I became a pregnant teenager, a time I needed my church the most. My whole family needed to leave the church because of the judgement that was placed on my family and I. Only at one other church have I personally met the Pastor, or better yet, had a conversation with him or seen him in the lobby talking with people. I had never had a hug by a pastor – ever – before coming to LifeChurch.

    Some of the things you mention are annoying, like the words to the songs not displayed at the right time or the internet site not kept up to date. Other things I think are a matter of style choice. A Pastor in shorts will appeal to some people like a Pastor in a suit will appeal to others.

    The people are what matter to me and make a difference in my life. LifeChurch has been the only church that I have ever connected with people at. Where people actually want to get to know me. If a church has everything in order, but does not have a friendly, non-judgemental staff and members, then it will turn others away from God. Some of my friends saw what the one church did to me and made decisions to never have a thing to do with religion.

    The perfect church would be the one with the best people AND everything in order and the money for nice things, but until I find one of those, I would rather attend one with great people and a little disorder.

  3. Hi Alex,

    I get your blog in my outlook and just took a look at the postings you have been doing for the past couple of months… man.. you can blog! That’s a real gift!

    Honestly… and I mean honestly… I am bummed out to hear about your transition. I am sure there is so much that isn’t explained… but, wherever and whatever God is trying to accomplish in and through your lives, I am possitive your up for the task! hehe..

    You know, as a clean freak..on some days..hehe… I have spent most of my life in ministry as the person who made sure everything was held together… Organized, consise and always on time… Over many years, God has always called me on this issue..over and over again.

    Yes I completely agree we are to give Him our best, but I truly believe that when we seek God and get direction for what we should be sowing our energy and time into… I believe with all my heart that we change our priorities to seeking what the Father is doing in any given moment and loving each other as God loves us.

    In doing that there is a freedom that I see now… vs. when I had the plan. It had to be broken in me… and now as I look deep into God’s word and see how Jesus related to His Father… He did only what His Father asked Him to do…. Yes, He is very gifted and could do whatever He chose to do… but that’s not what drove Jesus… Seeking His Father’s will was at the very core of all He did. His own life and gifting was laid down for the sake of all.

    I belive now more than ever, as I watch church after church realize that they have been running on their own plans and steam…… that God is drawing us back to that simple relationship of listening first and then doing… only the things He is asking us to do in the moment.

    So with all that said…sorry…hehe…. I pray that for your family… and for you… that God.. more than ever draws you to the secret place…

    Lots of love,
    Rob

    Rob Tremontes last blog post..Long Time – No Blog..

  4. Melissa & Rachel – thanks for the comments! Sounds like people are super important to both of you, maybe authentic people? I completely agree. This post is mainly dealing with ‘behind the scenes’ stuff, so I would say that first and foremost at a church there must be authentic people leading, teaching, loving – being the church, authentically.

  5. Rob, it’s truly good to see & hear from you! Thanks for the insight & encouragement. I agree with you. I have been struggling with the idea that the church is both an organism, alive, changing, moving, seeking to be where God is – do what he calls us to do. And it is also an organization – especially the larger it gets (the local church). Finding the balance between the two? Maybe. Just realizing that it is what it is? Maybe. Staying humble and try to learn from everyone – always. At least that’s what I’m trying to do. Thanks for allowing me to learn from you.

  6. Hey Alex! You are gifted in so many ways… kind of like a five fold ministry… without the five fold fist! hehe… jk.

    I just see your transition as God sowing something in you that can’t come from a comfortable church home…… It sucks, but man.. it’s worth it… because you really do come back to your first love.. Lots of love to you and your family… and when you do get some free time… stop by and check out the studio… would love to have you… and grab some lunchies too!

    Rob Tremontes last blog post..Long Time – No Blog..

  7. Wendy and Tony Kerr

    Alex,

    You and Jen (and the kids) are in our prayers.

    God is moving in your life right now, in a mighty way. This season of revelation will not only bring clarity to your thoughts (his thoughts given to you), but will build your character and confidence in the LORD! Find that quiet peace that comes from Him, listen as he washes over your heart and RENEWS your faith in a stronger and more passionate manner. What you are about to encounter will be some of themost increbily hard, challenging and FREEING times!! Prasie GOD! :)

    Tony and I have testimonies galore, thanks to our transitional season we endured…and once we were obedient and gave it ALL over to Jesus….he blessed us for being obedient and showered us with enormous FAVOR. Stay the course, PRAY, pray some more, listen…BE STILL….know he is God and he is with you every step of the way on this new journey. We love you guys!! The Kerrazy Kerr Family

  8. I’m not poking fun, but I’m noticing the longest comments and most insightful prayers here then ever before…Or am I crazy? Totally cool though!

    Chris Stouts last blog post..A New President

  9. Rob, let’s get together soon!

    Wendy & Tony – so cool to see you here. Thanks for the encouragement & prayers. You guys ARE Kerrazy!

    Chris, you are crazy & right. Had a great time today!

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