LED Panels and Lighting Design: A Powerful Partnership

After attending WFX in Orlando last month… it confirmed for me that we are in a modern day gold rush of LED Video technologies. So many products are hitting the market, and the lowered cost has made integrating LED panels a possibility for many venues that would have never been able to in the past.

There have been some fair questions recently raised about how using LED inside a venue with controlled ambient lighting is overkill. I do agree that there are organizations that are installing cheap LED Panels when their venues would be better off integrating quality laser projection. Inside my venues that utilize LED – we do run the brightness of the panels at only 15-20% brightness, so why use LED when you are only utilizing a fifth of the potential output?

The answer: Negative Space

In lighting design… I heavily lean on the use of negative space in creating my most dynamic looks and it helps create depth and adds flexibility to the stage.

In recent years we’ve been alternating the look of our Christmas stages. We’ve been alternating between whimsical Christmas looks and more natural and abstract Christmas looks.

Here is 2015 when we recreated the iconic Santa Slide from ‘A Christmas Story’

Using a white cyc as the background to this set allowed for vibrant colors, and the snow allowed for some fun experimentation with texture. However – Programming against such a bright background and positive space really limited the dynamic range of the moving fixtures. That year we didn’t use any LED panels, but in retrospect – if I were to do this today… I would really enjoy blending the practical and digital together.

With this year’s concept being centered around light… I knew that we would want the lighting to have multiple layers and the possibility of contrast and depth.

This shows my favorite purpose of integrating LED into Light Design… LED can totally disappear into the black. Projection requires a screen or reflective surface, and that doesn’t go away when the projection goes to black. So much contrast and flexibility is added with LED, and allows for the lighting designer to not be as limited by traditional displays.

There are plenty of other benefits with LED in terms of color rendering and output. However, I just wanted to highlight my favorite benefit of the new technology.

A few more examples from this year:

Setting the Stage

When you are working with a concrete stage with a basic proscenium stage with no fly system… you have to get creative with your scenic elements. Textures and Lighting are the key driving factors for visual story.

Here is the same space in different settings:

To see some of the stages in action head over to my portfolio here.

8 Things I Learned from My Volunteers

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘It takes a village’ before. Usually that phrase is used in the context of raising kids; but when I hear that phrase… I think of the dozens of volunteers that it takes to make Crossroads happen on a weekly basis. Without these dedicated individuals we could not create the Crossroads Experience.

So in the spirit of recognizing the contribution of volunteers, I wanted to take a second to reflect on a few things that the volunteers who work with me have taught me along my journey.

1 – Discipleship is like training – you do it one step at a time:

We have volunteers who come from all sorts of backgrounds. Some have followed Jesus for decades – others are just beginning their faith journey. No matter where we are at in our walk with Christ – we can all be looking to take our next step in our relationship with Jesus.

2 – Volunteers need to feel needed and appreciated to be retained.

When was the last time you expressed how thankful you are for someone? I make sure to take time out each week to highlight and celebrate what our volunteers have done. Our production volunteers are also on the go much of Sunday morning… to accommodate the rapid pace of Sunday, I have introduced a grab-and-go breakfast area with a Nespresso. Taking care of our volunteers snack and coffee needs is just one small way we say thanks.

3 – Perfection isn’t the goal as much as individual and corporate growth.

I regularly step back and ask how I can help a volunteer grow. Is it a conversation over lunch, or reviewing Sunday morning footage with them? Each individual is different, so the evaluation process must be different and unique as well.

4 – Mistakes happen, but people are valuable.

In the non-stop nature of a weekend experience, it is much too easy to be curt or short when giving feedback. I always try and take a breath and process before giving direct feedback to a volunteer in the moment. This helps me to make sure I’m not coming off as angry or trying to cut them down in front of others.

5 – You never know what baggage someone is carrying around so always seek out ways to encourage and support.

An essential part of this is regularly praying for your volunteers. If God prompts you with a word of encouragement or a compliment… don’t hold that back and go ahead and share it. You never know when that person needs a pick me up.

6 – What’s Celebrated is Repeated

Casting a vision over and over again with tangible stories of how we are moving toward that vision is key to getting volunteers to come along for the ride, especially when you are changing “the way it’s always been done”

7 – Communication is Key

Who and why are more important than what and how. In other words, valuing the individual and communicating the reason for serving is more important than the details of what is being done or how it’s getting done. When you lose the who and the why, the what and the how won’t matter anymore.

8 – Encourage a Biblical model of rest

Faithful volunteers have servants hearts. It is easy to overwork them and under appreciate them. But it is essential for the long term life blood of the church for the servant leaders to also have somewhere they can get nourished to avoid running on empty.

Creating a healthy volunteer culture is a process. It doesn’t just happen overnight. What creative ways have you found to honor your volunteers? Share below in the comments!

GLS Baby!

Okay, remember when I said that we were hoping our baby girl would arrive the first part of August when she was due so she wouldn’t interrupt the Global Leadership Conference? Well, she had other plans.

Instead, our baby girl decided to come at 2:30 in the morning on the second day of the conference. Thankfully I had prepared back up plans and was available to troubleshoot long distance if needed.

Despite things not happening in our timing, we are still overwhelmed to have this little one in our arms and so thankful to Kelsie Hendricks Photography who captured the beautiful experience of Rachel working to bring this little girl into the world for us to treasure.

And a big shout out to the GLS community for recognizing this beautiful interruption to our regularly scheduled programming!

We’re Having a Baby, and It’s a…

So the news of our 2nd pregnancy hasn’t made it to the blog yet. Rachel is 20 weeks and we just had a quiet gender reveal with our parents on a Google Hangout call. But don’t worry, we video taped it so we could share with y’all too!

Click here to see the video on Facebook! 

And here’s a picture from the recent ultrasound of our sweet little one sleeping!

We are so excited of course to be preparing our hearts and our home to meet our baby girl. We expect her to arrive in early August, hopefully before the Global Leadership Conference I have been working so hard to prepare for- but of course I’m making backup arrangements in case!

First Taste of West Texas Life

So we arrived in the desert a little over a month ago and it has already been an adventure! We spent the first month in a corporate apartment living out of suitcases and managing groceries up and down the flight of stairs with a very young toddler. But I have to say that life here in West Texas is unlike life anywhere else we have lived.

Our mall is called ‘Music City Mall’ and there are performance stages located throughout… On a note about Texas culture there’s a full statue of the Ten Commandments in the middle of the mall with 2 rows of chairs beside it so you can contemplate them.

Apparently we moved to the land of jack rabbits… it’s easy to spot these adorable furry critters in the morning or right before dusk. Bodie loves to chase them on our walks. But as a tribute to the adorable indigenous critters, there are tons of these statues all around town.

Of course we expected that culture would be a little different here with almost half the population being Hispanic. But we weren’t prepared for some signage being in Spanish first. I guess we get to teach our little ones to be bilingual!

I know these are just a few things to share and they are sort of trivial, but I wanted to capture just a taste of our adjustment period we are going through. For the first little bit it has felt like a vacation without an end date. But the reality of our move halfway across the country to a land unlike any other is becoming increasingly real to us. We certainly are enjoying it here, but continue to pray for us as we get settled in and find our rhythm of life here.

On the church front, we’ve jumped in head first to Life at Crossroads. I’m helping them bring their vision to life of having a life size replica of the slide from the movie ‘A Christmas Story’ built on stage. In the midst of the major set construction project… I’ve been performing maintenance on our aging fleet of intelligent lights. Getting them ready for our upcoming Christmas Shows.

Best Worship Songs of 2014

2014 brought us some great worship music. Here is my Top 10 list of 2014…

Top 10 of 2014

#10: Don’t Ever Stop – Chris Tomlin

This high energy tune opens the 2014 Passion Album “Take it All”. The song’s soaring chorus reminds me of the truths of Phillipians 4:8 and blends an energetic EDM influence with the soaring Passion sound.

#9: Wake – Hillsong Young & Free

No other band had a greater influence on worship music in 2014 than Hillsong Young & Free. Y&F replaced ‘Hillsong United’ as Hillsong’s student ministry focused band as the ‘United’ generation graduated college and headed for adulthood. The over-the-top EDM energy and modern vocals make for a great track of hope and never-ending grace.

#8: I Am – Crowder

David Crowder released the first album with his new band ‘Crowder’ in 2014 after he and the David Crowder Band finished their run. Crowder continues to create innovative sounds in the new genre of ‘Folktronica’ while his D*CB counterparts launched their first album as ‘The Digital Age’. His single ‘I Am’ headlines the CCM Album of the Year ‘Neon Steeple’ and reminds us to look to the great “I am” in the storms of this life.

#7: Only King Forever – Elevation Worship

The Charlotte based Elevation Church continues to create a solid worship music culture that is having an impact far beyond North Carolina. The song ‘Only King Forever’ has a great hook in the chorus that combines uplifting lyrics with uplifting tones.

#6: Oceans – Hillsong United

Off of Hillsong United’s 2013 ‘Zion’ album – Oceans took the CCM scene by storm throughout 2014. The song has 16.5 million spotify plays alone. That is 10 million more plays than their 2007 hit ‘Lead Me to the Cross’.

#5: Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) – Hillsong Worship

Using the timeless lyrics of ‘Amazing Grace’ set to an inspiring new sound, Broken Vessels points to the Cross and the Love of Christ. The new sounds help to remind us of timeless truths.

#4: Alive – Hillsong Young & Free

The headlining track off of Y&F’s 2013  ‘We are Young & Free’ album has exploded all across the country. The EDM sounds of the song beat out anything on Top 40 radio right now, and have hooked the current student generation. The new EDM sound is a bit foreign and uncomfortable to some of the older millennials who were raised on the soaring guitar driven sounds of U2, but the unforgettable lyrics and beats have brought many of us back around.

#3: Cornerstone – Hillsong Worship

The timeless verses of Edward Mote’s 1837 hymn ‘My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less’ rang out in churches more in 2014 than it has in many years thanks to Hillsong’s 2012 song ‘Cornerstone’. Adding a new melody and chorus, Cornerstone still points to Christ being the solid rock and foundation in which we build or lives.

#2: This is Amazing Grace – Phil Wickham

Phil Wickham can write a hook like nobody else. We learned this in 2007 with his song ‘Cannons’ but instead of the soaring guitars, an electronic keyboard hook took our ears by storm. The lyrics ask questions that point to the power of the King of Glory. The song’s bridge has some of the greatest impact with the simple lyrics “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain – Worthy is the King who conquered the grave”. Make sure you listen to the ‘album version’ of the song… Some of CCM Radio only would play a radio edit that downplays the electronic sounds for muted guitar riffs.

#1: My Heart is Yours – Kristian Stanfill

The 2014 Passion Album is called ‘Take it All’ because of the chorus in Kristian Stanfill’s ‘My Heart is Yours’ track. The song builds with strong lyrics and melody to the familiar bridge of ‘All to Jesus, I surrender; All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live.’ The bridge being the first verse of the classic hymn ‘I Surrender All’. The songs soaring guitars and energy breathes new life into those timeless lyrics for a new generation to embrace and live out.

Next week I will point out a few tracks that I think are going to have a big impact on 2015!

Check out a spotify playlist of all these songs and more here.

Questions Rising

Yesterday we explored how when we have experienced Christ’s love and forgiveness, we are changed, made whole, renewed and complete in Him.

Many of us struggle with that idea of change. We often ask question like ‘Can I really change?’ or ‘Am I really any different from before I started following Christ?’

Sometimes it is easy to answer those questions with shallow response, so I won’t patronize you here. However, if you do wrestle with questions like that, I have found a great resource that will help you process through who are in Christ.

A good friend and I have been reading the Robert McGee classic ‘The Search for Significance’ and processing similar questions. You can find the book on amazon here. The book does a great job exploring some of the more complex truths of our faith (like propitiation) and then identifies many of the enemy’s lies that can keep us from experiencing the freedom that I wrote about yesterday.

Next week we are going to dig into some of the more specific ways we get caught up in the enemy’s web of lies. Our view of how God loves us can get contaminated. and the virus of lies can really cause hurt and destruction. We will begin a series of post call ‘Filter: Finding Freedom from Contamination’ – so don’t miss it.

In the meantime be encouraged and live in the freedom of the 2nd Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

Resolving Resolution

“Happy New Year!”

“Happy New You!”

“Happy New Resolve.”

This time of year we see gym memberships exploding, and individuals all over the world looking for a new start in life. We throw out phrases of renewal and newfound determinations to change.

Nothing is wrong with enjoying the fresh start the new year brings, but if you talk to anyone about ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ – the probability of failure and returning to old ways will most likely be an expected part of the conversation. Our inability to change and our inevitable return to old habits is not a matter of ‘if’ but a matter of ‘when’.

This year – I challenge you to stop.

Stop resolving yourself.

Stop trying to change yourself.

Stop the endless pursuit of making yourself better.

In the season of everyone starting to make changes. Stop. Stop and realize that…

You ARE changed.

You ARE already made whole.

You ARE completely renewed.

You ARE complete.

“And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” – Colossians 2:10

This year realize who you already are in Christ, and then in that you will find freedom.

I know all of this raises more questions than answers, but I invite you to come back tomorrow. We have a tendency to say ‘but’ after every one of those statements, and that is okay. Come back tomorrow and we will start a journey into exploring the questions that this raises and we will talk about the freedom that is already here.


What I have been reading – 2013 Edition

I know it has been a hot minute… but I wanted to share the latest from my reading list.

Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend

Andy’s transparency in this was refreshing. The first part alone is therapy for PKs.

The Houdini Solution

My friends at Elevation Church sent me this. It has been a eye opening and refreshing to see how sometimes working in ‘the box’ can be beneficial.


Tina Fey offers an interesting perspective into the creative process and how your past has influence.