Transformed Sermon Series

The series we just started is called transformed.  Our previous graphic designer Josh Tate made the sermon series graphic on his way out. So we were left with implementing the graphic.  We lovingly call this our graphics package, which includes: sermon series bump, lower 3rds, and EP to match.  So here’s what we ended up with.

As people walk into the worship center we went with this EP to match the series:


Here’s what it looks like during the sermon.


Overall it looked pretty sharp with lots of vibrant color.  My partner in crime here at Northwood, Grant, put together the bump for the series.

Customer Service in Church?

A week back or so I posted a video from Lee Cockerell’s talk about Job Performance in Church.  He also talked about a couple of his books having to relate to Customer Service and valuing guests, customers, members, etc.  Lee’s background includes VP of the Disney World Parks, so I would say he’s got a couple good things to share about Customer Service.  I just finished his book “The Customer Rules“.  First of all, a definite recommend.  My wife and I have small business (Heart Box Weddings), so I enjoyed it from that perspective, but it was interesting to take a few nuggets from what I learned in that book to apply it to the church world.  Now, I understand that church is not a business, but that shouldn’t keep us from learning everything we can about treating people better, valuing people, and in turn making a greater impact on people’s lives.  So here are a few notes I took from the book.  Again, I totally encourage you to grab a copy of it yourself.

  1. “Great Service is not just about what we do; it’s about what we are. You can have the best policies, procedures, and training in the world, but if the people you entrust to carry them out don’t have what it takes – forget about it.”
  2. “Being comes before doing”
  3. “Time and time again, customer service has been shown to be the best way to distinguish an outstanding organization”
  4. “Customer Service encompasses the entire experience, from the moment a person logs on to your website or walks through your front door until the moment they logy off or walk out.”
  5. “You win customers one at a time and lose them a thousand at a time”
  6. Each of your employees need to measure up to the 5 basics: Cleanliness, Personal Appearance, Clear Communication, Thoughtfulness, and Knowledge
  7. “Greet people with eye contact and a friendly smile”
  8. “If your appearance is professional, they will assume that the service you provide is professional.”  Perception is reality.
  9. “Professionals show up- on time and ready to go”
  10. “Customers can sense a lack of passion from a mile away”
  11. “Experts serve their customers quickly”
  12. “Consistency is vital”
  13. “A cheery hello and a sincere good-bye can leave a customer with a memory of a positive experience regardless of what happened in between.”
  14. “Do unto your employees as you would have them do unto your customers”

I just realized that I have pages and pages of notes from this book.  I should stop here and just suggest you check it out for yourself.  Again, people that come to church are NOT customers.  They are members of your family, members of the body of Christ.  But there are some important lessons to be learned in the area of customer service for every church.  How much more important is it that someone finds Jesus than Disney earn another customer.  In the church world, we need to be experts at customer service.  People matter too much.  The cause of Christ matters too much.

Worship Picture

Pictures During Worship

I recently posted a post about using lighting in worship and our journey on how our lights have changed over time.  A couple people have asked me about tips for shooting photos during worship sets.  While I don’t claim to take fantastic pictures of our worship sets, they do turn out decently with lots of color and clarity.

  1. The first thing I tell people is usually not a popular answer in the fact that pictures are only as good and colorful as the real set. If your stage isn’t outputting a lot of color, odds are your photo won’t either.  So one obvious tip is to make sure your lighting/projection/set design looks sharp and colorful to begin with.  Your camera captures moments, it doesn’t create them.
  2. Front lighting levels.  Most places run their front lighting (on singers and such) way too bright.  While the human eye can compensate for the lighting difference between front light and back color light, your camera can not.  One of the major things we learned when moving to IMAG during worship a while back was to keep our front wash at a much lower level.  This allows our camera iris (both photo and video) to open up more and collect more color data.  Remember this: the lower you can get with your front wash, the brighter you have to crank your cameras, meaning the color is captured much more vividly.  This is usually the most important step that people haven’t considered.  Our front washes are run on 750w ellipsoidal lights.  We run them no brighter than 50-60% at about a 30-40 ft throw, and often we run them lower than that.
  3. Foot Light.  Our front wash is accompanied by a foot light wash.  Meaning we have lights at the foot of our stage shooting up at the people on stage.  This helps fill in shadows, helps our people kind of “glow”, lets us get away with a lower front light level, and helps our speakers look more friendly by filling in deep eye shadows.
  4. Audience Lighting.  The pictures I have posted recently aren’t the best example of this, but the more light on the audience, the more interaction you’ll be able to capture.  If you are looking to do a seriously awesome photo, you need lots of audience light.  I would also suggest that the audience light comes from the stage, and not the house lights.  Makes for fantastic pictures.
  5. Great Camera.  Dark lighting conditions is what separate the amateur cameras from professional cameras.  Can you get a decent shot with a cheaper DSLR? Yes, you can.  It’s just going to be grainy.  To compensate for that, you can export your image at a much smaller size.  Because my wife and I have a photography business, we are fortunate to have good gear.  Specifically, we shoot on a 5D Mark iii with lenses at 1.2 and 2.8.  All made for extremely low light.
  6. Noise Reduction Software.  Even on our great camera gear, the result is a bit grainy.  So we use Adobe Lightroom to edit all of our photos.  It has a noise reduction that is beyond awesome.  Just make sure you don’t over do it, or it looks quite fake.

northwoodpics-100 northwoodpics-101 northwoodpics-103 northwoodpics-104

Worship Stage Lighting

The Journey of Lighting Change

A couple posts ago, I posted a series of pictures from our Sunday morning talking about stage lighting and the effect is has on progression of the service.  I found it interesting to look at where we were with stage lighting just a few years ago, and where we are now.  One of the more interesting points to note is all the lighting fixtures are exactly the same, it’s just a matter of placement and how we use them now.  Now, we get a lot more color and certainly a lot more bang for our buck.





The stage now is much more dynamic, full of color, and full of energy.  Again, no new lighting fixtures, just a shift in how we placed the lights and how we use them.

It’s very important to note a few key points:

  1. The journey is just as important as the destination. How you achieve the change you are seeking is just as important as accomplishing the change.  Don’t take short cuts.  Do it right.
  2. It takes relentless learning.  We have constantly been learning from day one from other concert venues, churches, blog posts, articles, books, etc.  Learning from others is key in moving forward and getting better at anything.  It’s important not to copy people, because they are in different situations than you are.  You need to learn how they think, not copy what they do.
  3. It takes time. There is nothing worse than transitioning something too soon.  Particularly in church world, where people don’t enjoy change too much.  If you want to make a ton of changes over night, just be ready for resistance.
  4. It takes teamwork.  Always keep your team in the know.  As technical director, I can make lots of changes within the realm of production to get things done quickly.  But bringing your worship pastor, your lead pastor, service producer or whoever on the journey with you creates a unified front on change.
  5. Change is more fun as a team. When you learn a new technique or learn a new philosophy on lighting, share it with your close team.  Your worship pastor or lead pastor might not fully understand the technical jargon, but it brings up the subject of change and constantly striving to get better.  The more you talk about change as a team, the more natural it becomes and you can then start implementing it as a team.  It might sound obvious, but when talking about technical issues with non technical people, focus on the advantages that they can understand.  Take a moment before you talk to them and think through how to best present new ideas to them.
  6. Don’t change for the sake of change.  I once heard a talk from a graphic designer that good design simply solves problems.  It’s terrible design or user interface if it creates problems.  I would argue that the same is true for lighting or anything else technical in a worship service.  If by you changing lights creates more problem than it solves, then it’s probably not the best idea.  Don’t change for the sake of change or progress, change for the sake solving problems.
Mission Gallery

Missions Gallery Update

A while back, I wrote a post about redoing our missions gallery.  The missions gallery is a funny story of how responsibility often gets assigned in an organization.  If you bring it up as an issue that needs to be dealt with, you are usually tasked with the responsibility of fixing it. As you can see from the previous post of what the mission gallery used to be, it was something that needed to be done.  It’s a prominent spot in our building, in between the two main entrances into the worship center.  So naturally it needed to be something that looked nice and really displayed what we are all about.  At Northwood Church, we are all about reaching the world around us, we are very globally minded.  At the time of the project, I had just got back from a trip to Vietnam, so we had some great pictures to work with.  We let the pictures speak for themselves, we printed them as large as we could, and the result was when people walk by, they can see a glimpse of what our church is about just by glancing at the area.  We also designed it in such a way that when the pictures need a refresh it’s quite easy to put different pictures in.  I never got around to posting a final picture of what it looked like, so here you go!

Mission Gallery

If I could change one thing, it would be the height of the bottom cedar planks.  I would also prefer to vary the color of the wood from piece to piece, but the straight cedar color matches the rest of the building quite nicely.