Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Welcome our baby boy born today!

Tyler Sean Nelson, 10lbs 11oz, 22.5" long, born at 11:16am o natural
(labor started 1:30am, no induction needed)

Thank you everyone for praying. Both mom and baby are doing well.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

:: TBC orchestra CANCELLED this weekend

Winter storm warning has encouraged us to cancel orchestra this
weekend. This means NO Saturday rehearsal and NO orchestra on
Sunday. With all other musicians (band and vocalists), plan on Sunday
as usual. Band will NOT play instrumental during offering -we will
advance to the next sing along song. There will also be no orchestral prelude.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

:: band roadmap on a napkin

This is how the song goes.

:: what crutch are you labeling as a 'tool?'

Check out what the President used as a teleprompter below. [If you are reading this in an RSS feed reader...you'll need to open this puppy up.] When I lead worship, sometimes I get the reaction, "Wow, you know all those words by heart." Shaa right, no I don't! We have two teleprompter screens in the back of the Mulvane main upper auditorium location AND Mulvane lower auditorium (LA) location. That means what the worshipers see, I see as well.

So don't think I'm all cocky and know all the lyrics when leading worship. I don't. When it comes down to it - the video screen is leading us all in worship, including me. It's our digital hymnal. Now if there was only a way to get the music up there, too.

Unfortunately, like our modern-day Presidents, I rely on the teleprompter like a tool. Or is it a crutch?

What other potential crutches do we label as tools in worship? At work? In life?

PRAYER: Lord, help me identify areas in my life that I'm taking the easy road spiritually. Show me what is really a tool or simply a crutch to get by.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

:: what boundaries have you set up in your life?

Without boundaries, life can suck you into a vortex of saying "yes" to just about everything (both the 'good' things and 'best' things). However, this leaves you virtually no room to say "yes" to the 'best' things in life that God brings. In essence, the 'good' stuff overtakes you.

Here is one of my boundaries. So every Thursday, my family and I have a 'boundary lunch.' Basically, it's the one lunch date every week that my family and I have lunch together. If others need to meet, it's going to be another day of the week - but not Thursday. It's turned into a day that we look forward to. We reconnect. We cherish the 'us' time. And we can plan on it happening regularly.

How about you? What boundaries do you set up?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

:: how to sync two bands together in two different rooms

We launched two simultaneous worship locations with two bands playing in time together with the exact same music. I mean, they start together, play electric guitar solos together, stop together, and transition together. You can download a chart of how this works. But first, let's talk about why this monster was created.

  1. We wanted live music in order to stay away from the feeling of an "overflow location."
  2. With the new location (right below our main auditorium), the sound and vibration of music bleeding through the floor/ceiling would give us issues. We didn't have another room option with enough seating.
  3. We needed to exactly time the announcements, videos, and message for a video switch over.

Synchronize two live bands in the two separate rooms with a click track in order to clean up both audio and video switching seamlessly.

Does this really work?
This isn't theory folks, we did this last week. God prepared us with our December light show - where for the last two years God allowed us to put together a drive-in light show synchronized with 16 live musicians in 11 different windows via a low-power FM radio transmission to vehicles. God help us for creating these monsters.

What you'll need:
1. Double the musicians.
2. One new FOH audio operator (aka sound guy).
3. A crazy, but logical, in-ear-monitor setup played to click tracks (Aviom, Hearback, or the like)
4. Prayer

So how do you get the bands to sync up when they can't see each other?
  1. Click track source. It's usually a metronome or a loop on laptop/iPod. We use a DB-90 Dr.Beat by BOSS and hook up a memory UP/DOWN pedal through a TRS (stereo) cable on a BOSS A/B floor pedal. All songs are programed with the tempo. Then there's a START/STOP pedal that cranks it up. The DB-90 Dr.Beat gives us a count in (usually 4 beats), then the bands start.
  2. Click track is fed into Room 1's IEM (In Ear Monitor) system, per usual, so the band stays in time and can start and stop without any drummer stick clicks for worship leader mouth-off's.
  3. Run a CAT5 cable from Room 1's IEM system to Room 2 and put another IEM Aviom/Hearback box at the FOH board. Use this IEM box to dump the click/loop/ and lead vocal (or instructions on mic) into a second separate IEM system that Room 2 will use.
  4. Setup channel 1 in Room 2's IEM system (Aviom, Hearback) to have the feed from Room 1's IEM system. This gets the click from Room 1 into the ears of Room 2 musicians. Voila...they can now play with the band upstairs. But you aren't done yet, what about loops? Read on...
  5. Use an aux send or send group from Room 1's FOH board down to Room 2's FOH board.
  6. Setup a COM (communication) system so that when the leaders in Room 1 and 2 talk in their mics...they can hear each other. The way to accomplish this is to send from Room 2's FOH board back to Room 1's IEM system.
This will serve for your audio for any video, message, or anything else you can't duplicate in Room 1. This also gets any loops into a Room 2's hands from upstairs to blend with Room 2's band. Almost done, remember when you rehearse together or if there's a crash-and-burn in Room 1...Room 2 will need to know. You need a 2-way COM setup...
Download a visual layout here.

And you're done. Yes, there's lots more to it...but that's the quick run down.

:: are you ignoring the opportunities God has right in front of your nose?

Thanks to Pete at Cross Point Church (Nashville, TN) for sharing this video of Joshua Bell playing violin and hardly anyone noticing because they are distracted with life.

Am I too distracted by life that I'm ignoring God's voice?

clipped from withoutwax.tv

Opportunity of a Lifetime

Have you guys seen this? It’s a clip of an experiment The Washington Post did with Joshua Bell, the world’s best violin player. They put him in a Washington DC Metro stop to work his musical magic. Would people stop and listen to the world’s best violin player who’s playing one of the world’s best violins (his violin was made in 1730 and cost $3.5 million)?

1,097 people walking past him and only a handful stop to listen. They are completely ignoring a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear this guy.

This video was so convicting to me. Each and every day the God of the universe wants me to listen to Him, tune into Him, walk with Him and yet I often choose to drown Him out with the noise of the world. I’m missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime.

Why didn’t they stop to listen?

Monday, March 23, 2009

:: behind the scenes at TBC, what happens Mon thru Sat

Check out this video of what happens after you leave on the weekends.

Friday, March 20, 2009

:: it's March and our kids are still into the December light show

Here's a guitar that my son made while jamming to Wizards in Winter by TSO. If you missed the show, you can catch last year's show over here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

:: another fantastic light show idea

I had no idea how combining sheep and LED lights would be such an innovative way to make a light show by using traditional 'live Christmas animals.' Thanks to our bass player Chris Davidson for showing me this one. Actually, Chris, is was your wife Carrie - but I guess she gave you the credit. She's such a good wife!

:: who's the boss here - me or God?


1 God, I’m not trying to rule the roost, I don’t want to be king of the mountain. I haven’t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans.

2 I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart.
Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.

3 Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always!
A pilgrim song

Prayer :: Lord, show me ways how I'm trying to rule my own life. I don't need to be king of my life when You want to rule over my life. Show me where to keep my hands out and show me where You want me to serve. I'll be content in whatever You call me to do, regardless of how easy or difficult it may be. My plans are Your plans - and nothing more or less.

:: congratulations to Matt McElravy and Rick Bernhardt, 'Outstanding Achievement In Songwriting' Awards

They won the outstanding achievement in songwriting award for The Great American Song Contest. Matt took my place at Grace Church (Lititz, PA) and Rick (I think) was the vocalist for Matt's song Crushed (on this recording Matt is singing).

And thanks in advance for sending me royalties. That was nice of you guys.

Achievement In Songwriting'

(You Laid Down Your Life)"

Matt McElravy

(Lititz PA)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

:: when God sends (too many) musicians

God knew long before we did that we'd need something more. He always does, doesn't He?

I was resenting the fact that God allowed three new drummers, keyboard, bass, and several vocalists to show up at virtually the same time. Little did I know that He was setting us up to launch our LA worship location (Mulvane Lower Auditorium, 9:30am).

When will I learn to not fret about how God is working and trust Him?

This worship location is TBC's fifth worship location on a Sunday morning. It's the second simultaneous worship gathering. Sundays now look like this...

8:00am Mulvane Street Main Auditorium
9:30am Mulvane Street Main Auditorium + Mulvane Lower Auditorium
11:00am Mulvane Street Main Auditorium + College Avenue Xenos Room

What's crazy is that we might even have to open up a sixth location at 11:00am in the Lower Auditorium around Palm Sunday and Easter. Yikes.

What's unique about the LA worship location is that the band is synchronized in real time with the band upstairs. This means the band upstairs is playing the exact same music at the exact same time. They start together, stop together, transition together, and even have guitar solos together. In fact, we have only ONE lyric operator. The band downstairs music stays in time with everything upstairs or we'll lose synchronicity with the lyrics...and when the announcements and message are fed live via video to the LA worship location.

I'll explain in another post how it's done...but for now, know that I'm sleeping better along with our techs that the crazy concept works.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

:: TBC rewind - listen to June Murphy, Vocal Team, and Band again from 3/8/09

If you missed June Murphy, the Vocal Team, and Band at Topeka Bible Church two weeks ago...your loss. But you can now listen to an unedited recording (no post production, it's straight off the board). Thanks, Nat, for uploading this. By the way, we had one rehearsal on this song. The beauty of individual vocal rehearsal tracks, band recordings, and musicians that prepare their music before rehearsal make this possible.

Monday, March 16, 2009

:: check out where da music is at Topeka Bible Church

So you want to know where the music is at TBC? I'm talking rehearsal recordings and music binders. Since we've had an influx of new musicians lately, I'm putting together this really high quality video so we can keep watching it over and over. If you are in the Vocal Team (all TBC singers), Orchestra, or one of the Bands - then check this out. CAUTION: This video is extremely high energy, please remain seated while viewing.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

:: watched shuttle launch with family

Yup, we don't have cable - so we hooked up my computer via VGA cable
and audio to watch it from streaming wifi. Yes, I'm a geek.

:: full house at Topeka Bible Church's LA 9:30am launch

Had to set up more chairs for the launch. Wow!

:: see this pic, the answer is YES you want to worship at LA today

Thanks to Patty Diliberto for this awesome spread.

Friday, March 13, 2009

:: lower auditorium worship location launches this weekend at Topeka Bible Church

Second live band synchronized with the upstairs band via click track.
Lyrics and message all piped in via video. Yes, the yucky fluorescent
lights will be off.

:: how to select musicians for leading worship

A talent broker. That's what I am.
I manage the talent that God has brought to a local church. While it's part of what I do, it's also one of the things I least enjoy about my role...making decisions about how to place people appropriately in ministry to most effectively accomplish God's mission for His church.

When it comes to musicians, there are three important criteria to look for. By no means are these the only three, however these three are important. They are AVAILABILITY, ATTITUDE, and ABILITY.

  • Availability - (most important) Are they available for rehearsals? Do they make themselves available? Are they available for the whole rehearsal or do they come late or leave early? Do they make themselves available regardless of the type of group they are asked to be involved in?
  • Attitude - Why are they there? Do they fill your bucket or empty it? Are they passionate about leading others in worship? Are they a team player? How do they respond if they/others aren't singing/playing on stage as frequently as they/others would like? Are they willing to try new things? Does their attitude off stage mirror their on stage lyrics?
  • Ability - (least important) Do they have the minimum requirements to sing/play? What styles can they pull off? Can they read music? Can they sing/play by ear? Are they tied to a music stand? Are they aware of what is going on around them on stage and off stage musically? Do they have an ability to lead or are they a great follower, or both?

The attributes of availability, attitude (heart), and ability were developed by Rick Muchow.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

:: how to turn your first worship hour into a dry run

One of my pet peeves for the first hour of worship is that it sometimes gets the bad rap as being the "guinea pig" run. You know what? Worshipers come to 1st hour expecting the same thing they would get in the 2nd hour. Yes, there's glitches that escaped rehearsal and crept into 1st hour...but if you really wanted to turn your first hour of worship into a dry run, here are sure fire ways to make it happen:

1. Make Sunday your first time rehearsing together.
2. Keep the sheet music away from the musicians until rehearsal.
3. Make sure your musicians don't have any chance to listen to the songs ahead of time on a rehearsal recording.
4. Keep your lyric operator home during rehearsals.
5. Make sure your front of house audio operator doesn't show up, listen to the recordings, or take notes.
6. Make sure Sunday AM you don't begin with sound checks...seriously, this saves time, doesn't it?!
7. Show up unprepared as the leader.
8. Allow your musicians to show up late.
9. Use the phrase, "Oh it's OK...it's just 1st hour," back stage and in staff meetings.
10. Never, ever, pray before the 1st gathering of worship.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

:: questions to ask before launching a new ministry or event

Some general questions I ask myself when someone wants to start a new ministry or event...

- Do we feel God is in this...or is this something we simply want to do?
- What is the purpose, passion, and funding driving this new venture?
- Is there a staff person who is passionate about cheerleading this?
- Is there a volunteer person who is passionate, available, and able to lead this?
- How can we pilot this in a small way to determine if there's more broad interest?
- Is there something we need to stop doing in order to begin doing this?
- Is there a way to consolidate this into something we are already doing?
- Is this need already fulfilled through other venues?

If the answer isn't a resounding "yes" to the above questions, I usually say "no" to the good in order to say "yes" to the best.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Friday, March 06, 2009

:: Today Show mentions Topeka, Kansas as a bright spot in national economy

Check out how Topeka, Kansas gets mentioned by name on the Today Show (mentioned at 2:13 into the interview). You know the rest of my friends around the country are going to be SOOOOOO jealous that we are making it. Sorry guys — we've got more than Toto here in Kansas...we've got streets of gold.

:: now this is the life with family

The grandparents push while I gawk.

Monday, March 02, 2009

:: Penn asks, "How much do you have to hate someone to not tell them about Jesus?"

Jim Congdon shared this video yesterday at Topeka Bible Church as a part of his message. The part that griped me the most about Penn's (yes, of Penn & Teller) video is, "How much do you have to hate someone to not tell them... (about heaven/hell/Jesus)?" That's a question Penn. A question that has had me thinking a lot in the past 24 hours.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

:: at kids musical rehearsal, check out Di getting her groove on

How to play a fluorescent light bulb guitar

I haven't figured out a particular use in the Topeka Bible Church 2009 light show yet, but there's conceptual potential here.