Friday, June 24, 2011

Takeaways From Hillsong United

As I mentioned in my last blog entry, I went with several people from FCC to see Hillsong United on Monday night. It was, of course, awesome. As with just about any high-quality artistic expression, there were several takeaways. Here are the biggest things that I took away from the concert:

1. Vocal compression: Without getting too technical, the compression on the voices was excellent. Rather than just being their voices but louder, the compression kept the voices from covering up the instrumentation, or from getting buried by it. Instead, the vocal compression kept the voices in a range where they could be a stable piece of the overall puzzle of the sound.

2. Supplemental instrumentation: Hillsong used additional percussion, additional guitar, additional synth, additional vocals, etc. to enhance their sound. Many of these small supplements would be difficult to pick out if you weren't paying close attention, but they add important details and support of the overall arrangement of the songs.

3. New arrangements of familiar songs: While keeping melody lines intact and familiar, the chord progressions or rhythms or instrumentation of familiar songs was changed to keep them fresh and new.

4. Attention to detail in arrangements: Often there were very minute things that a specific team member would play here or there. No one would ever notice if these pieces weren't in the mix, yet the fact that they were there added something to the overall. As mentioned in point number 2, these are things you would never miss in a song, but the addition of these parts of the whole make the whole better.

5. Excellence in execution: You could physically see how each team member gave deep focus to getting their part right. "Good enough" was not good enough. Even in the body language of the team, you could see how much they cared about bringing their very, very best execution of their part.

6. Customized weekly approach, rather than system-based approach: These last two points are just things I gleaned indirectly from Hillsong that have application to our team. Rather than creating a system with interchangeable parts, and it not mattering who plugs in where, I want to focus in a more customized approach to each week on the team. Rather than having systems where any person can do anything we do, I would rather look at the team each week, and say "Here is what we have this week. Let's leverage these specific talents in these specific ways." This will lead to more arranging on the fly, and collaborative experimentation, I think.

7. Apollo 13 motto: At one point in the movie Apollo 13, they are discussing whether or not fuel cells will burn in a specific way to correct the spacecraft's course. The engineers say, "They weren't designed to do that." Then the flight director says, "I don't care what they were designed to do, I care what they CAN do." Hillsong used singers for percussion, guitarists for synth players, etc. So rather than saying, "You're the rhythm guitarist today, that is all you will do," in certain situations, my motto might be "I know you are the rhythm guitarist today, but I could use you on the shaker for the first half of this song." I know what the team members are scheduled for, but there are more ways to tap into the skills the team members CAN do.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I have greatly enjoyed my time off. The family and I went to Holiday World and to Indiana Beach. Both trips were REALLY fun, and the kids did great. We all had a blast. I am convinced that I have the most wonderful family in the world.

I am returning to work energized and rested. I am excited to hit the ground running. I love my work, and am excited to do it better throughout the summer. Get excited with me!

Also, as a bonus, I get another shot in the arm tonight, as several members of our team will be at the Hillsong United concert in Indy tonight. So I'm pumped already, and getting more pumped! God is good!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Time To Get Silly

No blogs next week, because I will be on vacation. I have some time planned with friends and lots of time with the family. It's gonna be awesome! I am looking forward to getting some sun, hanging out with the family, and general happy-making for a week.

I know I will come back rested and re-charged...just in time for VBS! Have a great week next week!

Monday, June 6, 2011

20/20 Vision

I am reading some books on leadership right now, in an effort to grow in 2011 as a leader of my team and my church. So far, the reading has challenged me in a number of areas. One of the greatest areas that I have lacked [in my opinion] is that of vision-casting.

I do have vision for our church and our team. However, too often, it has remained in my head, or in conversation with a few close friends. I have heard the challenge [most clearly in Bill Hybels' book Courageous Leadership] to translate those visions out of my head, and to communicate them to my team and my colleagues [if not the entire church, even].

According to Hybels [and I agree], a compelling vision:

1. Allows the leader's passion to become contagious
2. Challenges me [and my team] to embody the vision
3. Allows people to understand the main thing.
4. Increases energy and moves people into action
5. Increases ownership
6. Provides focus
7. Smooths leadership succession

This has been very challenging for me, and has caused my juices to start flowing. I am excited about spending some time in the coming weeks thinking through vision for the arts in my church, and our small groups [and overall discipleship] process. I want to be a leader that energizes and empowers people to live out their creativity and giftedness, in order to further God's kingdom on earth.