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Church News at St. Faith’s – Part 2

This post continues after the first post on Church News where we discuss why we’re doing it. If you haven’t read that, I’d recommend you go back and read it before you read on!
Church News Part 2

How we do Church News

There’s a lot of different aspects to the how of planning, shooting, editing and distributing Church News. I’ll try and summarise the important things and do more detailed posts on some of the following topics in the future.

As you’ll quickly discover, it takes a lot of people to make this happen monthly. If you’re interested in attempting to do this at your church, make sure you gather a team of people around you. We certainly wouldn’t be able to do it without the great people we have behind the camera as well as in front.

We shoot once a month and capture content for each of the weeks for the following month. Each month we’ll have different talent in front of the camera, who will do all of the notices or introduce or tail promotional videos for events that have them.

Planning

We’re fortunate enough to have someone in our young adults community who’s just finished a degree in film production. Nick is responsible for liasing with Ben (our pastor responsible for our family and night congregations) and collating a list of events that are coming up in the two months ahead and then developing a script. We try and do this in the week before we shoot.

Ben is also responsible for finding and co-ordinating the talent. We typically try and switch out the type of person we get each month, in age, gender, congregation and personality. This has helped, I think, to keep things fresh – but we’re looking at experimenting with having two people in front of the camera in future months to mix things up further.

Shooting

Church News Shooting

A typical Church News shoot setup during the first few months

Production for the whole month’s worth of video typically takes about two hours including setup, the shoot and pack down. However, we’ve been able to build up a ‘set’ that involves minimal setup more recently, which cuts about 45 minutes off this time (more about our setup in a future post). Ideally, we’ll have the talent plus two behind the scenes team members – one to look after the technical side, and the other to ensure we’re covering all the content.

We use a two point lighting system, one light at 45 degrees either side of the subject, typically one as a soft fill, and then one as a slightly more directional key. We’d like to do some key lighting from behind, but haven’t been able to source the equipment to do that well, yet. For audio, we’ve been using a highly directional mic on a boom, but since the shoot for May we’ve switched to a lapel mic. We’ve found that in the room we shoot, we get a lot of ambient noise (reflections off the hard surfaces in the room) which hasn’t been helpful in making the speech tracks clear to understand which we’re able to minimise by using a lapel mic. It doesn’t look as nice, but makes the whole process much easier.

Editing

I’m responsible for piecing together the video segments, animations and anything else together. I use Final Cut Pro for editing, and Motion for doing our “mid segment” graphics. We’re also fortunate to have another young adult at church, Dan, who’s great at motion graphics who did all our intro, and transition, animations. Typically, it will take me an hour or two to prepare all the segments for the month, which involves syncing the audio and video (we usually record these separately), cleaning up the audio and colour correcting the video, where necessary.

A couple of helpful tips when it comes to being efficient at editing:

  1. Make sure as much of your video content is in the same format and frame rate as your primary source. In our case, any videos I source from external parties (promos for events etc) I’ll run through MPEGStreamClip and export out at ProRes 422, at 25 frames/sec. This avoids having to re-render the video after every edit in Final Cut. I probably lost a few hours of time waiting for content to render over the first few months!
  2. Create a template for the month – that you can use for all the weeks. For me, this involves embedding the intro animation, audio bed track (and automating the volume so it sits below the segments). This saves about 5-10 minutes per week (so around 20 minutes total)

Here’s a video screen capture which I’ve sped up, of editing church news for May. (We recorded audio straight in to the 5D or this month, so you won’t see the process of syncing the audio to the video.). I’ll post some more detailed notes about the whole process that’s in this screen capture in a future blog post.

 

Distribution

Once the edit’s finished, I’ll send it to Compressor and use a custom droplet that I created based off Vimeo’s settings for HD video uploads. It works well, and usually results in a file that’s around 100MB. I’ll export it straight to my public Dropbox folder, and then email the public link to our ministry staff (so they can review the video and make sure it’s all OK), and to an email account we have dedicated for the computer that does vision at church – so that the operators can grab the file.

You can download our Compressor settings for distribution via Dropbox and Vimeo here.

As I’ve hinted at a couple of times, once we’ve refined our process a little more, I’ll post some more detailed posts on specifics of some of the stages of the process we go through. We’re still trying to figure much of this out, and trying to streamline the process as much as possible. Now we’re in our 6th month, it finally feels like we’re getting the hang of it! Feel free to hit me up with any questions you’ve got in the comments!

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Christian Action on the Budget

HashTag Social Justice

Off the back of some great Take Love projects that happened through our church youth community over the weekend, I found the article ‘Where Did the Christians Go? Conservative Complicity after Budget 2014‘, from a few weeks ago very interesting – particularly as someone looking from the inside of the moderately conservative christian culture, to our secular world.

In particular, these two quotes struck me, and challenged my thinking as someone who lives in the electorate of Tony Abbott, but is disenfranchised with both political parties’ stance on a few key ethical issues including foreign aid, people who are seeking asylum here in Australia, and supporting people living on a low income.

Could it be that the church is more worried about losing our government benefits than about Australia’s most vulnerable losing theirs?

Indeed, if measured by the urgency and effort of our political engagement alone, our Christian value system might be summarised as: “It’s fine if Australians live in poverty, as long as gay people can’t get married.”

As Christians, our response to the Gospel of Jesus should be, in part, a desire to see those sick, in poverty and under oppression, cared for. As I read the article, I thought to my self, “am I doing anything to present a Gospel-centered perspective to those in our parliament who design policies that affect millions of people locally, and abroad”.

I’d highly recommend both this article, and this slightly-tounge-in-cheek article by Chris Bedding, if you’re interested in recent articles relating to politics and social justice from a Christian world view.

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Free Citizens Album and Eventide Plugin

Free Stuff - June 2014

Mars Hill Church band, Citizens, have their new album available for free on NoiseTrade. We’ve done a few of the songs off this album at church at youth and our Sunday night service and they’re great! Many are old hymns – including some of my favourites – done in a new, contemporary, style with new arrangements or melodies. If you like what you hear, NoiseTrade allows you to tip the artist a few dollars too.

Secondly, for the new few weeks, Eventide, who make some great hardware and software audio effect plugins are giving away their new UltraChannel VST plugin. If you’re a recording engineer, or a musician and use any software that supports VST plugins (like MainStage, which I use for creating and playing tones for our Sunday night church band, Legitified), download it now! It’s got a couple of compressors, a 5 band parametric EQ and some other nice extras. After early July, it will go on sale for about AU$300 – so it’s very much worth getting it for free while you’re able. As someone commented on Facebook, ‘Free Eventide is good Eventide!’.

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Citizens Conference Recap – Afternoon Sessions

Note: This post follows on from my Citizens morning session recap.

Both the sessions I attended in the afternoon at Citizens were presented by Tim Chaddick. As someone who is only a couple of years older than myself, I was greatly encouraged by his heart for the Gospel, for his passion for bringing it to people in his context, and his knowledge of the scriptures.

Workshop – Reaching a City

Tim’s workshop started with a short talk based from his experience planting Reality LA. This was followed by a Q&A panel with John Dickson, Mike Paget and Julie-Anne Laird.

1. We need to listen to our City

Listening to the city will point us to identifying the idols of the city, which blind non christians to the truth of the Gospel. When we understand the idols, we’ll be able to reason with people (like Paul in Acts), identify road blocks to the Gospel, and be moved with compassion for the city.

Tim identified common idols as career and acceptance among peers in his context in LA. In the context of the workshop, idols were defined as things that people find their ultimate significance and identity in, and in turn stop people seeing the reality of who Jesus is, and the work he’s done for them on the cross.

2. Ask Hard Questions

Once we’ve got a grasp of the idols our cities hold high, we need to help people see the idols for themselves. Christians need to challenge people to think about their idols and why they put their hope in them. The Gospel exposes our hearts, and changes us, and so helping people question if their hope is in the right place will provoke them to consider the Gospel truths.

We need to avoid superficial questions that dance around the idols of our cities and instead, confront them head on.

3. Provide a Framework

Evangelism isn’t about changing the topic, away from the idols we see around us. It’s about bringing the Gospel to the topic, showing how it comes to bear on the topic.

Tim used an example from Acts 17 where Paul spoke at the Areopagus as they were worshiping idols and false gods and showed people that:

  • They’re dependant on God
  • They’re accountable to God and;
  • We’re alienated from God

and then provided clarity of the problem that sin isn’t just the actions of our hands, but that it’s the motives of our hearts.

4. Share the Gospel

We need to remember that the Gospel is a gift of grace and Jesus is the solution for sin and the effects of it! If we are moved to compassion for our city, we should want to share the solution to the cities real problems.

5. What Should We do?

Just believe that God will transform our cities! Jesus’ tomb is empty and so we have news to tell!

Talk 3 – Why Would Anyone Listen?

In the final session of the day, Tim spoke from Ezekiel 37, where God tells Ezekiel to prophesy over a valley of dry bones.

1. We need God’s Perspective

“When we see the Spiritual reality of our cities, it moves us to a place that says, ‘God, only You know’”.

We can’t do evangelism without Him

2. We need God’s Promise

“The cure can’t come from mere human words”

We need to remember that people need to hear God speaking, and that as his word goes out, he changes hearts. We need to keep telling the Truth to people.

3. We need God’s Power

Nothing will happen without God’s power. Renewal, resurrection and life all come from God, through us, speaking his Word.

The simplicity of the Gospel breaks people.

Through the Gospel, the power that raised Jesus from the dead works in us! We have hope where there only seems to be despair. We can see where people need the Gospel even when we don’t think they’ll come to Jesus. We are visionaries – seeing where life can be found. We are pioneers, compelled by the Gospel to take the good news to the people.

We need to root our confidence in the Gospel, not in ourselves, or our ministry results. Doing the latter, if we are successful, only will make us proud and when we fail, we’ll be discouraged. We’re already accepted by God, because of the work done by Jesus on the cross!

We are secure in Christ, so go take some risks!

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Citizens Conference Recap – Morning Sessions

Tim KellerCitizens was a one day event held by City to City Australia, at Luna Park on the 29th of March. Tim Keller was the main speaker and delivered two addresses in the morning, followed by some breakouts in the afternoon and a closing address by Tim Chaddick (who I hadn’t heard of before learning of the event) in the afternoon.

Unusually, I took lots of notes during the day. Unusual, because I rarely take notes! However, I wanted to make the best of the opportunity presented on the day to consider, learn and think about what it means to be citizens of heaven but also citizens of earthly cities that we live in now. Below are some of short snippets of what I though was interesting on the day.

Talk 1 – Gospel

The first session of the day from Tim Keller was loosely based on Colossians 3, although the majority of the time was spent discussing the Parable of the Lost Son, which was the topic of his book, The Prodigal God.

As Citizens in our cities, Keller told us that we need to be people who:

  • Are able to admit they’re wrong
  • Stop handling things with self-pity; and
  • Don’t look down on others

These 3 points came out of the truth that a full understanding of the Gospel should make us humble. The Gospel also allows us to fail, and repent, because we’re all sinful. As a result we shouldn’t need to seek the approval of others but in the same way, we shouldn’t lord our ‘righteousness’ over others.

Talk 2 – Movement

One of the first things that Keller spoke about that I found encouraging in the 2nd session was the reminder that God’s still at work in all situations – not just the big movements we know about that have been recorded in history. I think this is important to remember when we feel like nothing is happening.

Most of the talk was spent identifying the characteristics that Keller has found in successful Gospel Movements.

Innovation

Keller noted that the Gospel wasn’t changed in the early church, and in fact the apostles kept an eye on what was being preached. However, the people spread throughout the world just preached and communicated in new ways. The content remained consistent but the methods changed.

Balance

When denominations hold onto their vitamins (the term Keller used to describe the things they hold dear and try and do well almost exclusively to everything else), and attack others for doing doing well the things they’re not, revival won’t happen.

Keller believes that while differences matter and can be good (when not on core doctrinal issues), revival happens across different Gospel believing denominations (in which it can be assumed that God blesses them) and so, perhaps,  that the differences between them aren’t insurmountable. We need to learn as much as we can from our brothers and sisters.

New Things Happen

Keller found that there are a few things that happen when a movement is making progress:

  • Church Planting
  • Ministries are developed for particular demographics of people (particularly applicable for international cities with immigrants from all over the world)
  • Christians, in the name of Jesus, should be working together for social justice
  • Christian Professionals band together to work out how they can use their skills and organisations to advance the Gospel. Leaders of businesses, need to be friends!

Extraordinary Prayer

Finally, Keller said that we can do everything in our power to clear the way for renewal and a Gospel movement to happen, but we ultimately need God to set it alight. Keller thinks that while revival in our cities is a big thing to ask for, God may be pleased that we’re asking for it, and bless us in doing his work. We need to pray with boldness, asking for God to do big things in and through us, for revival to happen.

Incidentally, there’s a sermon by Keller based on the passage which was read on the day from Acts which covers more of the biblical foundations for what was discussed available for free on the Redeemer website.

I’ll sum up the afternoon workshop and session, both delivered by Tim Chaddick, in my next post.

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Church News at St. Faith’s – Part 1

This year we started producing weekly Church News segments for our Sunday Morning (family) and Night (young adults) services – the largest 2 of 5 at St. Faith’s. This is something that we’ve thought about doing for a while, but finally committed to doing.

Over the next couple of posts I’ll address why we’re doing church news and how.

Why we’re doing Church News

At St. Faith’s, our vision statement points us to who we want to be as a church to bring glory to God:

Our desire is to be: A community transformed by Jesus’ love, fully devoted to loving one another, and radically committed to impacting the world with Christ’s love.

From an up-the-front, service leader, perspective, it’s crucial that we communicate that vision effectively, and that we invite people to be part of it. As we’re continuing to develop Church News throughout the year (we haven’t figured everything out yet!), we’re continuing to find ways to express the church vision.

Here’s an example of a recent week’s Church News.

However, there’s a couple of reasons why we started doing it in the first place, which are at the heart of the process.

Being Intentional

During pre-production each month Ben, the pastor for our family and night congregations, will discuss with Nick, a volunteer who produces the script and directs the filming, what notices we want for the following month. This has meant that a particular focus has come on to planning ahead for events and as a result, the communication of these events is much more effective.

We’re able to tailor the script each week to give as little or as much information as we need to give at that time. This means that we can quickly promo (in 15 seconds or so) an event coming up at the end of the month in the first few weeks – to get it on people’s radar and in their diaries. Likewise, if there’s an event that’s big for the life of the church, we’re able to plan to give more time to it as a segment over several weeks, or in a single week.

As a result of the planning, we’re also able to make sure we’re communicating exactly what we need at the moment in time. We don’t distract from the segment with unnecessary ad-libbed anecdotes (which often will happen in a live situation), but get the important details out and communicate how the message relates to the vision of the church. The team at Church on the Move, where we drew a lot of inspiration from, call this ‘identifying the win’ – and I think we’re still trying to figure out what that means for us. However, I do believe it’s vitally important to do this to be clear and concise and hopefully get people motivated to live out the vision as members of the church.

Integrating New People

Each month we have someone different in front of the camera – and so far we’ve gone for a variety of people, a young worker, a parent from our family service and another, older, parent from our night service. In addition to the welcome from our pastoral team (who lead the congregation through our services) from the front of church, we wanted to connect new people with a face they might recognise after church. Because of this, we’re deliberate in having the person introduce themselves and give a bit of background on who they are. We’re also intentional, on the tail end, to encourage people to come back next week.

The video also serves as the entry point to invite people to visit the Next Steps page on our website. This is done as the first segment after of the welcome specifically for visitors to have the opportunity to connect with us via their smart phone during or after the service – if they don’t feel comfortable introducing them selves to a church regular or staff member.

Encouraging Regulars

Because we’re being more intentional with our notices, we’ve got a greater opportunity to encourage our regular church members. We’re able to give updates on things that are happening around church both in the past and future. As I wrote above, we’re also able to make sure everything we produce is on message, that is, communicating the vision of the church. I believe that, without a consistent message, we lose the effectiveness of notices which directly impacts the ability for our regulars to feel and be a part of the vision of the church.

In the next blog post, we’ll talk about the technical aspects of how we shoot, edit and distribute Church News every week.

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Great Projection at Seeds 2014

This morning I took a quick look at the first night from Seeds Conference. Seeds is a ministry and blog from Church On The Move in The States that many church creatives I know use for inspiration and resources. Recently, we’ve used some of their insights in the development of Church News for St. Faith’s.

This year, a scrim was used around the edge of the stage to project images and shadows on to. It certainly made a great visual, and probably helped people focus on the words and music of the opening song, Oceans, rather than the musicians on stage – which is often something people are cautious about when it comes to doing music and production well.

I thought it both looked great, and enhanced the lyrical content of the song through the choice of the media that was projected.

Take a look at the first 10 minutes to get an idea of what I’m talking about!

This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen a scrim used – the first in this kind of context was at Hillsong Conference about 5 years ago. We also used a scrim at NTE last year to diffuse a Martin EC LED screen behind the stage that we used for song words, theme graphics and some video content. However, I think with recent advances in projection, this kind of visual design can be used in much more interactive and expressive ways than even just a few years ago!

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Unruly Vocalists? Give Them a Stand!

Two weeks ago, I was mixing my church Summer Camp and made a decision before we arrived that we’d put all 3 vocalists in each session behind microphone stands. This, I hoped, would combat some issues I’ve been experiencing all year with vocalists who can sing quite well, but either don’t have great microphone technique or lack a bit of confidence.

This decision really paid off compared to the problems I had with getting vocals to sit well in a youth context for a couple of reasons. The first reason, which was that our less confident vocalists (who would occasionally play guitar) seemed to be more comfortable actually singing into the mic! This helped me to get decent gain before feedback across the board.

Tadhg and Megan

Tadhg rocking the stand!

The lead vocalist across the week, Tadhg, made solid use of his mic stand both as a piece of equipment to play with and to experiment with different mic technique. During some of the louder songs (for example In Tenderness) he was able to get right up on top of the mic, which made the 160X compressor work hard, but allowed his vocal to get nice and punchy and a bit more aggressive, which suited some of the songs chosen for the week.

The last, and surprise, benefit came on the 2nd last day when I asked one of the guitarists if he’d like to sing some response parts in a couple of the songs to amp up the front line a little. I was very surprised at how much of a difference this made to the energy songs like Anchored Hope, originally by We Are the Outpost.

So, if you’re struggling to get a good level out of your vocals on stage – give them a stand! We tried this at church on Sunday in the band that I play in, and I got some good feedback from people out the front!

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Christmas 2013 Holiday Snaps

Last year, Fiona and I spent a few days with each of our parents over Christmas, and New Years Eve with some great friends we met through Credo during our time at UTS. I managed to take some shots with my SLR, which I rarely do these days, and so I thought I’d share some!

Click on the image for a larger, full size, version!

NYE 2013/14

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Bundenna

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Book Review: You Lost Me by David Kinnaman

You Lost MeWhile reading You Lost Me, thinking through the content and preparing this review, no figure hit it home for me more on this topic, than the the Barna Group’s website stating that “59% of 18-29 year olds had dropped out of attending church after [previously] going regularly”.

You Lost Me draws upon 4 years of dedicated research and over 20 years of associated research to present data and reflections from David Kinnaman about why 18-29 year olds are leaving the church, but not necessarily cutting ties with their christian faith. Kinnaman is the president of the Barna Group, a widely-used, Christian-focused research and polling company in the United States.

While the book was written based on US figures, I feel that much of the insights could be migrated across to our similar westernised, post-Christian culture in Australia. There were many points in the book where I found myself identifying with stories of interviewees, or some of the interpretations from the research that Kinnaman presents. As someone who finds himself right in the middle of the age bracket discussed in the book, I can think of many of my former church-going peers and friends and see their personal tales told out in much the same way as in this book.

If nothing else, this book has made me more aware of how we need a fresh approach for connecting young adults to Jesus and His church, through listening to their individual life stories and capturing their lives in different ways. It seems, from my own experience and some of the research presented, that the transition from the security of high school to the open and wild real world has been mishandled by churches for many years.

If you’re a pastor or leader responsible for ministering to people in the 18-29 age group, I’d highly recommend this book. It doesn’t contain an easy list of strategies on how to keep and connect with individual people in this demographic that you could run with out of the gate. However, it will allow you to be informed about what makes this age group tick and how to engage with them on broad terms, which should lead to informed and renewed vision. It also has a section of ideas and applications from Christian ‘thinkers’ on different aspects of the issue, which could be good starting points to apply it to the Australian culture.

I’d also recommend this book if you’re pastoring to youth in the last 2 years of high school if you want to help them transition from high school to their post-school life. I’ve seen many people stop attending church regularly after years of solid youth group attendance, and I think this must be an area that we can improve on.

Finally, I’d recommend this book to those who are in the 18-29 demographic. It opened my eyes with a perspective from an outsider into what makes my generation tick. I hope that it will help me to relate to my many friends who have left church and those who our church interacts with.

You can grab the book from Book Depository.

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