The Blog Has Moved

To whom it may concern:

My blog(s) may now be found at www.ryanaustindean.com

Thanks for reading!

Guns: Quotes from the Framers (And One Other Guy)

Bear Arms

“Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”
- George Washington

“I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”
- George Mason

“The great object is that every man be armed.” and “Everyone who is able may have a gun.”
- Patrick Henry

“Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?”
- Patrick Henry

“The best we can help for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.”
- Alexander Hamilton

“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.”
- Thomas Jefferson

“The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”
- Thomas Jefferson

“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States”
- Noah Webster

“The supposed quietude of a good mans allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside…Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them…”
- Thomas Paine

“This year will go down in history. For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration. Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!”
- Adolph Hitler

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Thankful

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Two of the reasons I’m a lucky, lucky man.

I struggle with the holiday season.

I’m not going to make the same assertions as many cranky sourpusses, insisting that each holiday season is a fabrication of marketers and Hallmark, but there is little doubt that the holidays have a sinister side.

Traffic is worse — drivers become angrier, riskier in their maneuvers, and uglier in the gestures. Feel like going to the store for some batteries or a 12-pack of soda? Well, I hope you enjoy waiting for 30 minutes in a line full of comparably impatient people, all of whom appear to be ready to ram their shopping cart through the hip of the elderly woman in the front of the line, taking 12 minutes to write her check.

For the church workers among us, mid-November through New Year’s is the busiest stretch on the calendar. Parties, special services, social Gospel events, musicals, practices, youth events, and more leave our family with fewer than three free evenings until 2013. I’m not complaining — that’s just part of the job.

And yet through all of the stress and anxiety, the holidays give us some of the most special moments of the year, namely two large chunks of time spent almost exclusively with family. As I type this post, my son lies asleep with his foot literally propped on my computer keyboard hand rest. Just in the hallway, two of my nephews are playing and laughing. Two rooms over, my dad, brother-in-law, brother-in-law’s father, and two dogs are resting with their own legs propped up, recovering from the incredible meal we consumed like ravenous hyenas (with equal amounts of laughter). The ladies stepped outside for a bit to run an errand, but they’ll be back soon, and we’ll all be worn out from doing very little.

Yes, the holidays are expensive. Yes, they are stressful. Yes, I’ll kind of be relieved when they’re over.

But then I’ll start waiting for the all over again.

In this season of excessive complaining, I must admit: I’m still thankful.

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Turn the Other Cheek…For Real?

There’s been a firestorm of controversy over Andy Stanley’s sermon earlier this year in which he was clear in condemning adultery as a sin, but was silent over the issue of homosexuality. This is all we’ve heard concerning Andy in the news, and I can’t say I disagree at all with the criticism, but as I’m partially through this article on CNN detailing the tense history between Andy and his father, a story he shares  kind of smacked me in the face:

When he was in the eighth grade, his father waged a bruising battle to become senior pastor of First Baptist. The battle inflamed tensions so much that his family received nasty, anonymous letters and deacons warned his father that he would never pastor again.

One night, during a tense church meeting, a man cursed aloud and slugged Charles in the jaw. Andy says his father didn’t flinch, nor did he retaliate. He kept fighting and eventually became senior pastor of First Baptist.

“I saw my dad turn the other cheek,” Andy later wrote about that night, “but he never turned tail and ran.”

His dad was his first hero.

Imagine, especially if you’re a pastor or minister of any kind, being publicly cursed and punched…in the face…in front of everyone.

What would your natural, instinctive reaction be? Perhaps you would shriek, “OWWWWWW! What did you do that for?” Maybe you would curl into the fetal position on the floor and weep uncontrollably. Or would you call your troops into action against the dissenters and engage in a Medieval battlefield clash in the middle of the church, swinging wild fists as someone in the distance wails, “FOR NARNIA!”

The most common, instinctive reaction would be to simply duck and swing back. It’s human. And in America, particularly the South, it’s what you do if you’re “a man.” I’m not even the type of guy who wakes at 4 AM to freeze to death in a deer stand, but if someone decides to (and I use this phrase with all the humor that my friend Chris finds in it) punch me in the face, I’m not 100% sure that I would do exactly what Jesus asked of us, simply take it, and turn the other cheek.

What Charles Stanley showed wasn’t weakness. After all, the story says that he “didn’t flinch.” What he did show was incredible strength of character in NOT responding. While this is purely speculative, I would imagine that the restraint that Charles Stanley showed that day was probably a factor in his eventual pastorship of First Baptist Church Atlanta.

What about you? What would your reaction be? I understand isn’t a revelatory blog post — even non-Christians know the related scripture from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

It’s just a question.

Matthew 5:39 – But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

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Raylan’s 1st Birthday

Exactly one year ago, my wife was lying in a hospital bed at Willis Knighton Bossier, breathing through an oxygen mask and crying because our son would be taken by caesarean section on Halloween of 2011 rather her being induced on 11-1-11, as was the plan. God had another timeframe in mind, so Raylan Mason Dean entered this world on the holiday that isn’t exactly our favorite.

They rolled Shari into the operating room and began to prep her as I put on my doctor gear (I looked at stupid as you might imagine). The whirlwind began, and I found myself sitting on a stool next to my wife, a curtain separating us from the stomach-turning gore happening on the other side. It was over in a heartbeat, and

“Who in the family has red hair?”

The nurse uttered those words as my eyes grew wide, seeing that tiny, slimy, screaming human for the first time. I thought for months that  I would cry, but the moment was too surreal for me to shed any tears. Shari, on the other hand, was indeed crying and begging for me to show him to her. After the nurses cleaned him up, I was finally allowed to hold him and take him around the curtain to see his mom face to face (he’s been close by ever since…very close by).

We knew our lives would change completely, but we had no idea exactly how much. I didn’t know exactly what colic was (or that it makes time stand still for months), how often kids get ear infections, that he would say, “Ma-Ma” for Shari, “Ba-Ba” for his bottle, and even “Apple,”  the name of our dog before finally chattering out “Da-Da.” I didn’t know that I would at times be dead-tired in the middle of the night, but smiling as he reached out for me to pick him up in the middle of the night.

My little buddy doesn’t look like me, nor does he act like me. In other words, he’s got the same kind of personality that first drew me to his mother a decade ago (being cute doesn’t hurt, either). With every flash of his dimples, he takes another piece of my heart. He’s not at all how we thought he would probably be, but he’s every bit my awesome, hilarious little buddy.

There are times in my life that I’ve been overly-introspective, and I didn’t think fatherhood would suppress that tendency, but having a child truly eliminates a large part of yourself from the equation. I’m always thinking about him, always wondering what he’s doing while I’m at work, and praying that I become the kind of father than he’ll need for every stage of his life. Parenthood has been, as it is for all, a learning experience for both Shari and myself, and I can’t wait to learn more over the next year.

Raylan, I love you more than I ever realized I would. The past few weeks have been incredibly busy, and I haven’t spent enough time with you and your mom, but that’s about to change next Monday. Be good for Mommy until Daddy gets back.

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O-NO: Obama’s Crusade Against Christianity

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In the aftermath of the attack on the American embassy in Libya, in which three Americans and ambassador Chris Stevens were killed, I have found myself literally shaking with anger at the tepid response of our President, Barack Obama.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, here is a quick summary:

  • An Israeli filmmaker living the United States made a film which ridicules the prophet Muhammad and depicts him in a severely unflattering light. The years since 9/11 have taught us that radical Muslims react violently to any depiction of Muhammad. The film posted trailers on YouTube, which quickly reached the Muslim world.
  • Islamic protestors stormed the U.S. embassy in Egypt, scaled its walls, tore down the American flag, and replaced it with an Islamic banner.
  • Protestors began firing guns outside the U.S. embassy in Libya, causing security forces to open fire, further inciting the crowd, which fired rocket-propelled grenades at the embassy.
  • Three Americans and U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens were killed, and their bodies were dragged into the streets (warning: graphic photo of Stevens).

What sort of a response would you expect from our administration? This is clearly a delicate situation, as both Egypt and Libyan have recently experienced political upheaval, but was this really the response we needed?

In his own statement, President Obama rejected the denigration of religious beliefs, but condemned the violent response.

“While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants,” Obama said.

Don’t preface your disapproval of the attacks with a slap on the wrist of the filmmakers! Show outrage over the violence! Express contempt for the mindless mobs who unleash extreme violence over the smallest of offenses! And even though Obama promised that “justice will be done,” I have no faith, based on his track record, that anything of consequence will be done.

Christianity has suffered persecution since its earliest days, and the overwhelming majority of its followers respond to that persecution peacefully, with dialogue and tolerance. You didn’t see Christians dragging Hollywood producers into the streets and killing them upon the release of Jesus Christ, Superstar.

Members of the media and the Democratic Party are already rebuking Mitt Romney for his “politicizing” the event, but Obama’s tone is not in sync with the American people at the present time.

America needs to wake up.

We cannot re-elect a President who:

These are but a few of the issues that should alarm every God-fearing American, but consider these words from our President:

“Even those who claim the Bible’s inerrancy make distinctions between Scriptural edicts, sensing that some passages — the Ten Commandments, say, or a belief in Christ’s divinity — are central to Christian faith, while others are more culturally specific and may be modified to accommodate modern life.”

Interpretation: the Bible does not apply to “modern life” if it is diametrically opposed to the liberal left’s secularist world view.

“Those opposed to abortion cannot simply invoke God’s will — they have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths.”

This quote shouldn’t be surprisingly from the most consistently pro-abortion Senator in U.S. history.

Concerning his stands on same-sex marriage:

“If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount.”

I fail to recall Jesus taking the time to throw his support behind Elton John and David Furnish whilst delivering the most famous sermon of all-time, but I digress.

“That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”

Do these negative stereotypes include their consistent long history of violence towards people of other faiths?

From NBC Washington’s site:

Amidst all of the American flags and presidential seals, there was something missing whenPresident Barack Obama gave an economic speech at Georgetown University this week — Jesus.

The White House asked Georgetown to cover a monogram symbolizing Jesus’ name in Gaston Hall, which Obama used for his speech,according to CNSNews.com.

The gold “IHS” monogram inscribed on a pediment in the hall was covered over by a piece of black-painted plywood, and remained covered over the next day, CNSNews.com reported.

This from the President who hosted an Iftar dinner at the White House, but refused to observe the National Day of Prayer except for a token letter.

President Obama has also consistently removed mention of “the Creator” from the Declaration of Independence.

“And it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations,” Obama said.

Obama’s famous statement concerning Tea Party followers has hardly disappeared from people’s memories.

More evidence of the Obama administration’s bias against religious institutions:

The federal government will no longer forgive student loans in exchange for public service if that service is related to religion, according to a new Education Department rule from the Obama administration.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program announced the change Jan. 31 with little fanfare, while most of Washington was focused on the new ObamaCare rule requiring religious organizations to provide free birth control through health insurance.

What does this mean? Read on:

“Generally, the type or nature of employment with the organization does not matter for PSLF purposes,” reads the new language.

“However, if you work for a nonprofit organization, your employment will not qualify for PSLF if your job duties are related to religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing,” the announcement said. Also, the organization cannot be a labor union or a partisan political organization.

Support that had previously been provided for students who pursued a life of ministry was removed by the Obama administration.

Further evidence of Obama’s obsession with taking all reigns off of abortion:

President Barack Obama on Friday lifted restrictions on U.S. government funding for groups that provide abortion services or counseling abroad, reversing a policy of his Republican predecessor George W. Bush, a spokesman said.

The Democratic president’s decision was a victory for advocates of abortion rights on an issue that in recent years has become a tit-for-tat policy change each time the White House shifts from one party to the other.

The lifting of these restrictions allows government funding for groups that have, in the past, performed and promoted abortions in foreign nations.

Pro-Life Groups Left Off Obama’s Health Care Summit List, Abortion Advocates OK:

President Barack Obama has apparently shut out pro-life groups from attending today’s health care summit to dialogue on how health care reform should be implemented. However, the White House had no problem inviting Planned Parenthood and other groups that support abortion.

The summit is an attempt by the Obama administration to focus on reducing and containing costs as well as expanding coverage and Obama sees it as a starting point for tackling the overhaul of health care.

With pro-life advocates worried about the attempt to expand abortion by either making taxpayers fund abortions in a national health care plan or requiring insurance companies to pay for them, pro-life groups have a key interest in the outcome of the debate.

However, Obama appeared to shut them out of the discussion.

Obama Administration defines pro-life advocates as “violent” and “racist”:

More details are emerging about a terrorism dictionary the administration of President Barack Obama put together in March. The newly-revealed document comes on the heels of a report the Department of Homeland Security sent out saying pro-life advocates were right-wing extremists.

The latest report to cause national outrage is a document known as the “Domestic Extremism Lexicon,” essentially a terrorism and political extremism dictionary for the Obama administration’s internal use.

The March 26, 2009 document features numerous definitions and the headline “antiabortion extremism,” appears on page two of the eleven-page manual.

The Obama administration calls pro-life advocates violent and claims they employ racist overtones in engaging in criminal actions.

The definition reads: “A movement of groups or individuals who are virulently antiabortion and advocate violence against providers of abortion-related services, their employees, and their facilities. Some cite various racist and anti-Semitic beliefs to justify their criminal activities.”

Despite an HHS study which demonstrated widespread support from both parents and students for programs which advocate abstinence, the Obama administration shut down government funding for 176 abstinence programs.

Why have I listed all these quotes and stories (which are only a fraction of what I’ve found)? As a minister, should I take a stand that does not isolate those who differ with me politically? Should I keep my political stance private?

As a student pastor, I personally believe it is my responsibility to strongly, peacefully, firmly state that Barack Obama is actively seeking to diminish Christianity’s influence on our nation. This is not an irresponsible or reckless statement — his record and his words speak for themselves. My students need to know that despite MTV’s support of Obama, following the cool crowd isn’t always the route a Christian needs to take.

To clarify: my opposition is not exclusive to Obama, or even the Democratic Party, but to all those who seek to push secular humanism on the American people, and have enacted a plan to carry out their will.

I was once accused of being a single-issue voter by an acquaintance with whom I disagreed strongly on abortion. While I would contend that I am not a single-issue voter, it is true that no other single issue better embodies the disparity between the values of the Democratic and Republican parties. The widespread acceptance of abortion is indicative of the moral decay that has overcome our country’s traditional, Judeo-Christian values.

Is Mitt Romney a perfect alternative? Absolutely not.

But we don’t have the option of electing a perfect candidate. We have been given a nominee with a proven financial record who has espoused traditional values, is opposed to abortion, would support Israel, and would not seek to diminish the Christian heritage of our nation.

All this being said, the answer to a turnaround of the heart of America lies not within its politicians, its lobbyists, or even the media. The answer lies within revival — a nation-wide time of repentance, reflection, and rededication towards the God from whom our blessings come.

2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Obama is not the source of our problems. The source of our problems is the heart of our nation. Don’t be distracted by the things of this world or the teaching of those whose hearts are opposed to God. Turn your heart towards Him, and pray that our land is not too far gone.

SIDE NOTE: I have a number of personal friends who have either had an abortion, and I do not condemn them. Some regret their actions, and some do not. Regardless of their current perspective, I want them to know that even though we disagree strongly on this issue, they are still my friends.

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Happy 60th, Dad

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My father, Jerry Dean, turns 60 today. I’ve never imagined my dad being in his 60s, but when I look around and see his five grandchildren running and crawling around during the rare, happy moments that we’re all together, I guess it does make sense.

He has been the lead pastor of The Pentecostals of Bossier City for 24 years. He serves on the Global Missions Board of the UPCI. He is the Director of Louisiana Apostolic Man Ministries, and the Vice President of the UPCI’s Apostolic Man Ministries. He has preached on four continents, including the General Conferences of North America and the UK.

In short, my father has smashed the incorrect (and absolutely infuriating) notion that many carry in regards to ministers: that they play golf, sip coffee, and only have to work on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. I have watched my dad exhaust himself seven days a week for as long as I’ve lived.

There is a reason he has impacted so many people: his passion is overwhelming.

I have said dozens of times that the highest compliment that I can pay my father is that he is the exact same man in the comforts of his home that he is when standing behind the pulpit. There is no pretension within him. There is no ambiguity in his actions — when he preaches against secularism, materialism, and spiritual complacency, it is because he consistently avoids sin, greed, and lethargy in his private life.

Though he has given the benediction at the installation of a governor, he has never valued the company of those in positions of power or prominence over that of the humble workers of his community. There is no prejudice, no haughtiness, and no cynicism in his dealings with others.

He calls himself “the redneck pastor,” and he genuinely seems most at peace when walking on the land some relatives own in Oklahoma and East Texas, leading his grandsons down trails or snapping pictures of them catching their first fish. His eyes still light up as he recounts the many stories of his childhood in De Leon, Texas, some of which I’ve heard several times, but hope he never stops telling.

I have always respected my dad for his character and commitment, but I must confess there was not always a time that I properly valued it. As a teenager, I thought and said countless hurtful things about our church and religious beliefs. I came to hate the work of God and the demands that the job my father accepted placed upon not only him, but our family. I bristled every time someone said, “You’re the pastor’s son — you should know better!” I’ll skip over the rest of the story, but I found healing at an altar at 18-years-old, and with it regained my admiration for the selflessness that my parents have always displayed.

Today, Jerry Dean is not just my pastor — he’s also my boss. I am privileged to be able to work beside him in our offices, to walk beside him as he minister’s to this community, and pray beside him at the altars of POBC.

I didn’t always understand why my dad sought a higher level of self-sacrifice which seemed above that of so many in his profession, but when I see him praying at the altar for a visitor who is receiving the Holy Ghost for the first time, the alcoholic who has stumbled into our church and is seeking deliverance, or the prodigal who cannot walk another step without pursing redemption, and I see the tears streaming down both their faces as God’s beautiful work is done, then it makes sense.

When I see our church acting on their faith, serving their community, and loving those who desperately need it, then it makes sense.

When I hear the young ministers from all around the country tell me, “You have no idea what your dad reaching out to me meant,” then it makes sense.

When I stand in the midst of a crowded auditorium, and I feel the faith arising in the people around me due to the passionately-delivered words from the “redneck pastor” preaching to them, and I know that the reason it resonates is because the of the genuine nature of his anointing, then it makes sense.

I once made the incredibly painful accusation to my father that he was “pastor first, father second.” Please allow me a few final paragraphs to address my father directly:

Dad, please forgive me for ever uttering those words. I was speaking from a perspective that was limited, and my heart was not in the right place.

Over the years I have come to understand something: your being a good father doesn’t come from the fact that you’re a good pastor. You’re being a good pastor comes from the fact that you’re an incredible father.

Thank you for all the love you pour out — to your wife, your children, your grandchildren, and your son-and-daughter-in-laws. We all love and respect you more than you’re even aware.

Happy 60th Birthday, Dad,
I love you.

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“The Words” – Misunderstood Love

I’m currently sitting in a hotel room in Jackson, Tennessee, and I’ve been reading a book that touched on some topics that have greatly pained me over the previous few months. For whatever reason, the most appropriate response seemed to be to hop onto my computer and write about it.

I think this will be fairly easy to understand, as my poetry always lacked subtlety, which is probably why I’ve mostly abandoned it.

Anyways, I hope this means something to someone else. I just felt strongly to write it.

Thanks,
Ryan

 

“The Words”

I’m sorry, I can’t apologize
As I stand before one billion eyes
The words aren’t mine to write
But they’re surely mine to keep

It’s not hate that brought me here
Nor misplaced anger, guilt, or fear
The words brings healing power
And their power must be shared

I cannot deny what you feel within
But if right exists, then so must sin
The words have never changed
But our watchmen fell fast asleep

So the hated turned to ones that hate
With no pretense that we’d negotiate
The words are said to expire
And the faithful pushed aside

I’m sorry, I shall not apologize
Because if truth exists, then so must lies
The words stand as our beacon home
And we’ve all been swept to sea

So find your way to loving arms
Not just His, but mine, and the rest of ours
The words we’ll share bring hope
To the broken and forgotten souls

I’ve never been one to doubt a heart
That breaks to find a brand new start
The words are not your chains
They’re the royal robes of perfect peace

So take my hand and follow me
Waking up to truth won’t end your dreams
The words have all the answers
To those questions of irresolution

I hope you see loved has paved the way
And in the end there’s too much to say
But the words will do the talking
Through the subtleties of grace

I’m sorry, I’ll never apologize
Please join us as we turn our eyes
The words must shift our focus
And our focus must be Him

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Church Media (Part 3) – For Media Operators

The final post in this three-part series will focus on the oft-overlooked member of your ministry team: the operator. This is the guy or gal scurrying awkwardly before service. He’s keying in and ordering songs, choosing backgrounds, getting scriptures from the pastor, and generally panicking five minutes before every service.

Let me say it one last time before continuing: unless you’ve sat in his seat, you don’t know just how nerve-wrecking this job can be.

That being said, media operators can take many steps to ensure they’re serving their church and pastor to the best of their ability.

1. PUT THE LYRICS ON SCREENS BEFORE THEY ARE SUNG

I’ve actually fought with fellow media operators about this, but I feel it’s important enough to place at the top of the list (this is particularly important in churches with a screen on the back wall for singers to reference during worship service).

Every church has a library of hundreds of songs. Each worship song consists of around 200 words (based on 20 of our church’s worship songs that I’ve selected at random and averaged out). Realistically, we have around 60 songs that are in our regular rotation. That means that if you make the argument, “Well, the singers should know the words,” then you expect them to memorize the arrangement of around 12,000 words.

That’s just crazy talk.

Worship teams consist almost exclusively of volunteers. They have lives — jobs, children, schoolwork, finances, and other sources of stress other than memorizing thousands of lyrics to dozens (or hundreds) of songs. They need help!

As the worship leader gives signs to the musicians and singers, prepare the next verse/chorus/bridge, and place it on the screen as the last two words of the current slide are sung. This will ensure an easy transition into the next slide, and there won’t be an awkward pause when half of the worship team neglects to come in at the right time because they forgot the words, or worse yet, sing the wrong words.

Additionally, placing the slides on the screens with time to spare will help the congregation join in when a new song is being played for the first or second time, assisting them in learning the song.

Finally, the most important reason for you placing the lyrics on the screen beforehand is that if you don’t, the awkward transition has the potential to snap someone out of worship. You actually have the potential to make or break the worship during a song. If they’re focusing on the mistake made by the singers, then they’re not focusing on worship, period.

2. PAY ATTENTION

At our church, the media operator is the floating head atop the media booth, perched high in our church’s risers. This is often the case — very few media computers are situated in open sight for the rest of the congregation to observe. The good thing about this: members of the congregation are less likely to bug your media operator with personal complaints (oftentimes unrelated to the media operator’s responsibilities) at inopportune moments because of close proximity and accessibility. The bad: media operators can be surrounded by distractions of their own.

Techies are chronic multi-taskers by nature. This benefits us in many situations, but it can also be a great hindrance when unobstructed focus is required. If you’re playing Angry Birds at the same time you’re supposed to be paying attention to the worship leader’s hand signals, you are about 5,000,000,000,000% more likely to miss the sign, make a mistake, and send the service into a realm of awkwardness.

Just in case you weren’t paying attention, that’s 5 trillion percent. I arrived at that figure by pure science.

It’s true.

3. ARRIVE EARLY

Running media requires time. If your pastor needs you to take a look at a video that he wants played before his message, and you’re not there at least 30 minutes early, then you’re not giving the job the respect it requires.

No, you won’t be needed early 90% of the time, but for that 10% you are, and you’re not there — that spells trouble.

4. DON’T REQUIRE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

As I’ve stated several times in this series of posts, your job as media operator is to never draw attention to yourself. The only times that people will acknowledge your presence is when you make a mistake.

If you throw Ezekiel 2:2 on the screens instead of Ecclesiastes 2:2, then people will look at you and scowl. If you start Verse 3 instead of the Bridge, singers will look at you in terror, then they will scowl.

But if you do your job properly, almost no one will be aware of your presence, and that’s okay! I’m sure your media team leader will thank you from time to time and your pastor might say, “Thank you, ______” when you look up a scripture quickly, but for the most part, media operations is a thankless job.

There is a certain nobility to doing a job faithfully and never requiring a pat on the back. It’s the heart of a servant, and God will certainly reward it.

IN CONCLUSION:

The demands of the modern church have changed over the years, and media has been an integral part of that change. Used properly, it is a fantastic tool that can aid in adding a level of accessibility and polish to your services.

Used improperly, media could be a constant distraction for your congregation. Whether your’e the pastor, worship pastor, media team leader, or media operator, be sure you’re doing what you can to help make your church’s media flow smoothly. It WILL make a difference.

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Church Media (Part 2) – For Worship Pastors

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I had a friend joke several years ago that it was “time to praise the screens.” I shot him a puzzled look, and he nodded towards everyone who was standing for worship service. As the music started, hands were lifted, eyes were turned upward, and lyrics were sung with passion — all towards the projector screens.

It’s humorous (and perhaps slightly sad), but considering that decades ago, our faces were turned downward to page 142 in a battered hymnal, it’s hard to be critical. Would you rather crane your neck slightly upward to read the lyrics from the screens, or emphasize your double chin by looking down at a weathered book? You get my point.

Regardless, it’s nice that even with our new songs, we can still sing alone fairly well because of the accessibility of the lyrics to the entire church. This is probably the greatest benefit to having projectors set up in your church, but for it to run optimally, we’ll need your help, worship pastors.

Note: if you read my last post, some of this will be slightly redundant.

1. SUBMIT YOUR LYRICS EARLIER

Our worship pastor, Brad Crow, Emails new lyrics to the entire media team, usually at least a day before we sing them for the very first time. I cannot emphasize how helpful this is to all of us who run the screens. He also gives us the worship sets for both AM and PM services the day before. I don’t have to ask him for a set list or bug him for lyrics — he’s already on top of it.

Keying in lyrics takes time. An average song at our church consists of at least two verses, a chorus, and a bridge. This might not seem like a lot, but when you also have to select backgrounds for each song, ensure formatting is correct, make sure all announcements are up to date, and other small items on the checklist, throwing a new song on a media operator ten minutes before service can cause a minor emotional breakdown.

Preparation is absolutely essential. Getting new songs to the media team at least 30 minutes before service is the minimum amount of time you should allow. It’s even better if you submit them a day before.

2. DON’T TELL THE MEDIA OPERATOR TO “GET THE LYRICS ONLINE”

Do you ever read Facebook and wonder if there’s anyone left in this world who remembers any of their second-grade spelling lessons? Have you noticed that no one understands when to use a comma, what to capitalize, or the difference between “they’re” and “their”?

These same people are often the ones responsible for entering lyrics on these “song lyrics” web-sites.

If you don’t care about your worship lyrics being correct on the screens, then by all means, send your media operator to that lyrics database web-site with inappropriate banner ads. However, if you want it done right, then type out the lyrics yourself, or at least check them for accuracy before printing them off and handing them to a media operator.

3. HAND SIGNALS: MAKE THEM EARLY, MAKE THEM VISIBLE

If you have a responsible media operator, they should be watching you like a hawk to see whether you’re going back into the second verse or the bridge. Don’t just assume they know the song as well as you or have some kind of telepathic superpower — give them hand signals that they can clearly see, and give them 2 or 3 seconds in advance. Obviously, you need to give the hand signals to your musicians first, but don’t forget the media operator!

DO NOT:

  • Point the hand signal at them like a gun. Your singers/musicians to your right and left can see it, but for your media operator, it looks like an indiscernable, mangled nub of human flesh.
  • Assume that a centimeter-wide separation between your index and middle fingers constitutes a clearly-visible distinction between “verse 2″ and “unison.” You’d better make it look more like this.
  • Make your hand signals behind your back. This isn’t 1972, your torso isn’t transparent, and your media operators don’t have Superman’s x-ray vision.

4. DON’T BE AFRAID TO ADDRESS WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED

If you see room for improvement, communicate it to the team. If the lyrics aren’t formatted correctly for a particular song, shoot the media team an Email and let them know that it’s confusing for the worship team.

If the media operators aren’t getting the lyrics onto the screens quickly enough (especially if you have a rear-wall screen set up for your singers), tell them to put them up in advance (much more on this on the next post).

Whatever issues you might have, talk them over with the media team with confidence and clarity. We’re all working for the same team, and the ultimate goal is that media provides a service that basically disappears into a person’s consciousness. The goal of media operators everywhere should be to run church media in such a way that is always a subtle help, but NEVER a distraction. Help them accomplish this goal by communicating often.

IN CONCLUSION:

I can honestly say that we have almost no problems with our entire worship team here at POBC. They all have a tremendous grasp on what they’re doing. Our pastoral staff and worship leaders are exceptional in the areas that I’ve addressed in the first two blog posts.

When a guest attends your worship service and a horribly misspelled word or grammatical error pops onto the screen, it’s not just embarrassing — it’s distracting. Being concerned with ensuring quality presentation of the worship lyrics on your church’s screens isn’t being overly-concerned with your image. On the contrary, it’s making sure that image is never a concern one way or the other.

I’ll say again: MEDIA SHOULD DISAPPEAR. All sloppy spelling and grammar does is draw attention to what should be ninja-like in its application. Make sure you’re doing what you can to help.

Next: Church Media (Part 3) – For Media Operators.

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