Wrong Worship Update

So, last week one of our team members threw a video up online of a sermon illustration. Next thing you know “Wrong Worship” is going viral. It got picked up by Michael Hyatt and ChurchMag. Then someone stole it and put it on Godtube (the irony). Then we saw a few other copies pop up on Youtube.

We had talked about making a standalone “infomercial” and this got us going on that. We wanted to let people use it for free. It’s available for download at www.firstorlando.com/worshipresources. Then I had the link put on the copy on on Godtube. I wanted to point people to the other resources and songs we have available. We have also put a few other songs and such on out youtube channel.

If you count Godtube, we have had over 225,000 views. Who knew?


God Shatters Expectations: Kairos Moments and $5.6 Million

This last weekend was a kairos moment at church. I think it’s another one of those days we will look back on as a clear memory of a time when God showed up.

It all started when the pastor led us to devote 2011 as a year devoted to developing a Passion of God. As a part of heading into the second series of the year, we asked author and speaker Bruce Wilkinson to come for a weekend. As he was working on his message, he saw a special on 60 Minutes about a new kind of homelessness in Central Florida. He was moved.

The next week he spoke with our pastor and asked if he could talk about this issue, and call our people toward intimacy with God through sacrificial giving. He asked what our dream amount would be. Could we trust God to lead his people to give a million dollars?

You have to know Central Florida to know how big of a deal this was. 11% unemployment. Many of the people in our congregation have taken large pay cuts. To ask them to give that much over and about their budget giving… well… it would take a movement of God.

During the weekend, Wilkinson called this a kairos moment. This was an opportunity. We, as a church body, had been increasing our involvement in local mission opportunities. This year we launched Love Orlando and had started doing some things under that banner. But this news report brought to light a new level of homelessness. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of children going to bed hungry in hotels across Central Florida.

I heard about the million dollar goal. The skeptic in me wanted to laugh it off, but the faithfulness in me said, no, we can do this. God can move our people to do it. So I went into the weekend expecting to see a miracle.

At the end of the Saturday service, which had a little over 1/10 of our total attendance, Wilkinson began the offering. As the envelopes were handed in, he kept a running total. I sat in the control room watching this unfold. I was amazed as number after number was called out. $10,000. $30,000. $70,000.

The grand total of the night was $506,000. We still had the next two services, where the vast majority of our congregation would attend. The next morning I told someone that I thought we would surpass $3 million that day. I was amazed. God was going to work a miracle in our presence. People in very hard financial times were going to respond to the call.

Of course, God had bigger plans. After the end of the 9:00 service we had already passed $3 million. By the end of the last service we had taken in gifts and pledges of $5.6 million.

Oh, me of little faith. I thought I was stretching to trust that $1 million would be given. God is so much bigger than my faith. So much bigger than my expectations.

Now we are putting plans together to use these funds to really help some people. And we have been very busy with news requests. When God moves, many times our small plans are overwhelmed.

Learning From the Attempt

Yesterday we were supposed to host the Christmas in the Park @ Lake Eola Christmas Concert. I say supposed to because it rained pretty much all day, and the weather was generally not suitable for an outdoor event. I won’t go into the hours and hours of prep I personally spent on this event. I ran point on this, and was personally invested in this concert more than any other event we had all year.

I will admit that I grieved a bit on the way in to work. It was already raining and the forecast was not good. I knew that the chances of the rain stopping was pretty small. I was not ready to call the concert off. We were still loading the truck. We were moving forward like the gig was on, but the radar was not looking good.

About 11:00 AM the various weather resources were al saying the same thing: the rain would stop about 2:00, and then come back with possible storms at 5:00. That was right in the middle of the event. There was an 80% chance of rain during the event. We had to call it off before we moved 200 people to the venue just to have them all get wet and not play/sing for an audience that wouldn’t show anyway. We are lucky enough to have very nice audio gear, and letting it get wet wasn’t really something we should do.

We posted all over the web, twitter, and Facebook. We even called the radio station that helped us advertise, and they were kind enough to announce that the event was cancelled. I called or emailed every person I knew that was involved. And that was it. We unloaded the trucks, grabbed a bite to eat and I went home. I checked the radar about 5:30. To the right is a screen grab from a weather app. The green color is rain. Lake Eola is right in the middle. I don’t know how hard it was raining, but it was raining at the lake when we would have been there.

During this I realized several things. I would not do very much different. I can definitely see us trying this again, but I learned a few things from this attempt:

1. It can rain on any day, even in the dry season of Florida. Multiple day events could reduce the chances of getting completely shut out by weather. Drizzling rain and humid air play havoc with strings and woodwinds. We could look at a chamber orchestra, that wouldn’t be as badly affected by weather.

2. There is a “market” for this kind of event. From the limited response we could measure, we had a lot of people who had no connection to our church interested in coming to the event. Several hundred that we can identify, plus more we will never know. People like Christmas music, so coming to a free concert in a cool location sounds like a good idea.

The challenge is to figure out other kinds of events that will have the same hook. I’m sure we will think about doing something similar next year. But I don’t want to wait until December.

3. People will take part in this kind of ministry. We had 135 choir members, 35 orchestra players, and a couple dozen other volunteers signed up. Even though most of them had just finished a log run of Singing trees presentations, they were wiling to give up the last weekend before Christmas to do something in the community.

4. I still don’t know how and why God does what He does all the time. I knew this before, and was reminded of it again. I believe that the vision for this kind of event was from God, and continues to be something we should move toward. I do not know why the God who made the weather didn’t just blow the clouds away. As my dad says, I won’t know “this side of heaven” so I will continue to move ahead with the direction God gives.

The Singing Christmas Trees 2010

This afternoon is the last presentation for the 2010 Singing Christmas Trees. We saw over 28,500 people in seven presentations over two weekends. This year’s show included scenes from some of the favorite stories of Christmas of years past, and of course, the greatest story of all.. the birth of Jesus. 280+ choir members, 50+ orchestra players, 80+ cast members, and tons of behind the scenes people make it happen.

Snell & Wilcox Press

A little while ago Snell asked if we would answer some questions about our new Kahuna so they could craft a press piece about our install. we eagerly agreed, because the Kahuna is amazing, and we love it. here are the questions and answers. They will pull from these for their release. I thought it might be interesting, so here you go:

Please describe your production facility and the type of productions you do for the church including worship services and other programs.

For almost 50 years First Baptist Orlando has been extending our ministry through broadcast television. Currently, we have 3 weekend services with full video support. We do a “broadcast” cut, which streams live on the web, that we later edit for our two TV programs. We also do a separate cut for Image Magnification.

In addition our 5500 seat worship center has hosted a lot of different kinds of events. From concerts to conferences, we find that flexibility is key for us to accommodate the needs of these events. Many have really stretched our ingenuity.

As we looked ahead to the future, and completing the transition to HD video production, we wanted to make sure we could not only do anything a conference might ask, but also be able to integrate media into our services to a greater degree. The decision about new switcher is a major factor in that.

How were you handling production switching before, and what were the issues with the old system?

We had two separate switchers. We cut for broadcast on a Grass Valley 200. It was a workhorse, and lasted for almost 2 decades, but pieces and parts began to fail. The equipment began to compromise the production. At one point one the internal fan broke, and we placed a small fan on the front of the mainframe so we could keep working. It was time to replace it.

For IMAG we had a 10 input Snell Golden Dave SD SDI switcher. It was a great switcher, but with somewhat limited capability when compared to where we wanted to go. Obviously it would not be able to go with us through transition to HD video.

What were the drivers that led you to purchase the Kahuna? Was an HD upgrade part of the decision?

To be honest, I was opposed to Snell products, and the Kahuna, when we first started looking at what production switcher to buy. I assumed that we would be able to get more capability for less money from a competitor. Then I went to a trade show, and a friend (Dana Meeks) dragged me over to the Snell booth. I walked away from that presentation impressed with the abilities of the Kahuna, but still unconvinced we should go that way. When we explored actual costs, with real numbers, we were very surprised.

Ultimately, we found that the capabilities of the Kahuna were the best fit for our needs. Being in a process of transition from SD analog to HD, the options the Kahuna offered for conversion were a huge factor for us. We were able to get one with enough features to accommodate the needs of the events we host, as well as enhance the technological parts of the worship services we produce every weekend.

What model (# of M/Es) of Kahuna did you purchase?

We have a 3ME Kahuna with 2 control panels (compact 2ME and compact 1ME) and an Aux panel

How is the Kahuna used in your operation? Are you using it to mix SD sources into HD productions?

We run the Kahuna as 1 physical switcher, instead of breaking the two panels off into separate MEs. In normal operation we still do a separate broadcast cut and IMAG cut. But by having access to all 3 MEs we can do more. For example, lately, we have been doing a lot with multiple video feeds directed to different locations. Using a macro we can load, switch and fire three separate video feeds to three different screens. Not something we do every day, but we like the flexibility.

In a place where we rely on volunteer labor to accomplish our weekly service production, we love the ease of programming the Kahuna to perform complicated switches with the touch of a button. Recently we needed to do one switch which would required a volunteer to hit 12 buttons in the right sequence, within about 3 seconds. The Kahuna allowed us to very quickly and simply preset that entire switch to one button stroke.

We also use the multiple auxes and outputs to deliver different signals to various video confidence monitors and screens. In many ways we use it like a router.

Please describe a typical workflow, such as that of a worship service, and how the Kahuna comes into play. How many feeds do you typically mix?

In a given weekend service, we cut 5 cameras, 2-3 graphic sources, and up to 4 video playback sources. 2 of our graphic sources are keyable. We also have a logo or 2 stored on the Kahuna. We are just scratching the surface of what we can do.

Generally, IMAG has control of ME 1&2, with 2 as the main output to the screens. Broadcast switches ME3. Depending on what is going on, IMAG may take the ME3 cut, or do a separate cut, and we may split off ME1 to another source. Broadcast calls most of the camera shots with IMAG following, but IMAG can grab one for a specific need. There is a lot of communication between the two directors.

What have been the overall benefits of the Kahuna to: your operation? The church? The congregation?

Installing the Kahuna was the first major step toward a complete HD transition. The production switcher forms the cornerstone of the system. With this in place, I know that we are ready to move forward.

In the meantime, we can do more that every before. We talk about leveraging technology to create an environment where people can meet God, and the Kahuna gives us more capability to do that. The benefits of this directly impact the people in the pew and at home watching on TV. We can not only continue to facilitate the ministry of the church through video, but enhance and extend it in ways we have never been able to before.