DIY Blinder Tutorial

Here’s a step by step tutorial on building blinder lights. The total dimension of each of these is 1’ x 8’ with six 8.5” lights on each. But, you could easily adapt this to use 5.5” lights or a different number of rows and columns (i.e. 4×4 grid instead of 1×6 row).

 

View More: http://mosaicchurch.pass.us/camp-2016

SHOPPING LIST:

  • Plywood (19/32 Pine Sanded Plywood, 4’ x 8’) – cut to 1’ x 8’
  • Black matte indoor latex paint
  • Hole saw drill bit
  • (6) Bayco Clamp Light with Aluminum Reflector (make sure reflector isn’t dented)
  • View More: http://mosaicchurch.pass.us/camp-2016

    Lights at 100%

    (6) Warm Incandescent Light Bulbs – 60W (If you’re not planning on having dimming control, 25W would be better. I have these blinders hooked up to a DMX controller, so I used 60W because I wanted 100% to be very blinding, just for crash out moments and effects in high energy songs.

    View More: http://mosaicchurch.pass.us/camp-2016

    Lights at 40%

    Typically, I keep the intensity at about 30-50%)

  • 6 outlet power strip
  • Assorted zip ties

DETACHABLE FOOT:

  • Plywood (19/32 Pine Sanded Plywood, 4’ x 8’) – cut to 1’x 2’
  • 2×2 Furring Strip, 8’ long
  • Wood screws

TOOLS USED:

  • Drill
  • Sander
  • Paint roller or paint brush
  • Staple gun (not essential)
  • Miter saw (for support foot only)

STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL:

img_38601. Cut plywood into a 1’ x 8’ board. Many hardware stores will do this for you, although their equipment doesn’t allow for super-precise measurements.  If you need an exact size, cut it yourself, but a rough cut worked perfectly for me.

2. Mark center for holes at 1’ apart. Top hole should be 6” down from top edge of board, and centered left to right on board. Each of the following holes are 1’ away from each other. (This left me with an extra 2’ at the bottom end of the plywood. I needed this extra length img_3857but you might consider starting with a 1’ x 6’ piece of plywood if you want the lights to be equally dispersed on the board without extra length at the bottom.)

 

3. Drill holes.

 

 

4. Sand down surface of plywood, being img_3855careful not to take away too much of the material around where the holes were cut. I sanded around the holes too much on some of them and it ended up causing my lights not to screw together tightly.

5. Paint plywood black on all sides.

6. Unattach clamps from lights and unscrew the aluminum reflectors. Put light socket through the back of the hole and screw the reflector onto the front until tightened.

img_41367. Once all 6 lights are in place, attach the power strip to the back by stapling 3 or 4 long zip ties to the back of the board and tightening the zip ties around the power strip to hold it tightly against the board. Plug all of the lights into the power strip then use the same zip tie and staple method to organize and clean up the cord to each light so that cords aren’t hanging, visible from the front, or prone to snagging on things.

8. Screw in light bulbs.

(After this step, I wrapped each reflector in bubble wrap because I was planning to transport them in a trailer to an event and I didn’t want the reflectors to get dented or the bulbs to break).

The next step is building the feet to stand the blinders up in.  You may not need to do this, if you are planning on hanging these, or attaching them to a truss.

img_39239. Cut the 2x2s in two 1’ sections. Then, cut two more 1’ sections with a 45 degree miter on both ends.  Measure the center of the 1’ x 2’ plywood and attach the 2×2 verticals in the center of the board (leaving a little more than enough space to slide the plywood from the blinder in between).  Screw in the diagonals (keeping a spacer in between the verticals). Paint the foot black. I kept the foot unattached from the blinder so that everything could be broken down and transported easily, but if this is a permanent piece, you may want to screw the blinder into the foot.)

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Instagram Photo Trends

Intentional photography is a great way to highlight the people, the events, and the identity of your group. Here are some creative types of photos that have been popular on social media in many churches and student ministries.

 

1. THE SIGN HOLDER

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2. BEHIND THE SCENES

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3. PHOTOS OF PROMOS

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4. LETTER BALLOONS

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5. PHOTOS OF PHOTOS

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Summer Camp: How we planned a great, weeklong off-site event

1. Be intentional with atmosphere

First impressions are a big deal.  Putting some effort and creativity into the atmosphere at your event can have a huge impact. Even a couple of well-designed banners or some string lights draped from the ceiling can tell your audience, “We care about the experiences you will have here”.

View More: http://mosaicchurch.pass.us/camp-2016

 

2. Think about the experience you want people to have

Start with a goal for what kind of experience you want to design for your audience (i.e. fun, contemplative, challenging, rejuvenating). We wanted our camp to be high-energy and impactful. We made several decisions that were specifically intended to set them up for that kind of experience.  We hired a super energetic, young, worship band from a local Christian university.  We made a no-cell-phones rule, but, in an effort to make that a positive thing, we made sure we jam packed the camp with fun things to do and captured great photos for them all week long.  We made sure even the sometimes ‘boring’ aspects of camp, like the speaking and the devotional book, were supported with creative elements, engaging stories and fun design. We took the expected, free t-shirt to the next level by offering a full store with 5 different items in a variety of colors and styles. We made sure to give students lots of time in small groups to process what God was doing in their hearts that week. All of these decisions contributed to a fun and impactful summer camp.

3. Don’t let your creative and production elements be an afterthought

Everything I just mentioned that we did to plan an incredible week for our students didn’t happen overnight. I personally tackled one camp task every two weeks for 6 months prior to camp and our team met regularly. Planning a big event like this takes foresight, budgeting, creativity, collaboration and lots of time! 

Planning things like merch, videos, and atmosphere from the very beginning can help you design a more cohesive and impactful event.

4. Help students make memories and bring the camp experience home

Making lasting memories was a high priority for our team.
We used photography, video, and a devotional article to help them take the camp experience home with them. 
We set up a trendy photo spot, brought in quality photographers, made daily recap videos (using animoto.com), and distributed all of our camp photos to students and parents (using pass.us).  These intentional decisions helped our students focus more on engaging with others and God. They also helped our students take the camp experience beyond just that week.

5. Don’t be afraid of hiring and renting

Hiring a worship band or renting lighting equipment can seem really intimidating! But, being willing to expand your resource pool beyond your own church can give you so many options.

EVERS @weareevers

We hired SEU Worship band from South Eastern University, Slap Happy Comedy (an
improv duo we once saw at a conference), a guest speaker, Scott Frazier, (from a church we have a great relationship with) and an up and coming local band (Evers) for a concert.
We also rented audio equipment, lighting, a Penske Truck, and a TV.  It might seem like a lot of money and logistics (which it is), but with good planning, making some strategic hires and rentals can really help you elevate the camp experience for your students. Doing these things made our camp feel very special and set apart, compared to a typical Wednesday night.

6. Think about reusing resources

You can be a lot more efficient View More: http://mosaicchurch.pass.us/camp-2016with a tight budget if you consider reusing things for multiple events.  For this event, we reused banners, blinder lights, string lights, Ikea lamps, a photo booth frame, some tubs for merch display, and lots of cables. We would have spend hundreds of dollars more if we were always buying things for one-time use only.  What bad stewardship that would have been!

I love giving our students the best experience for their money.  Even if you have a giant budget, stretching that budget to include as much as possible can really glorify God.

Glorifying God through task-oriented roles in the Church

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Working behind the scenes in your church can be incredibly gospel-centered. But, for anyone who has a lot of behind-the-scenes responsibilities, you know that this is much easier said than done.  When I first started vocational ministry, I had this romantic idea that everyday, I would approach my tasks as worship.  I assumed that even when my plate was way too full, I would somehow, get more done than I had time for, through divine inspiration.  Sometimes that happens, but there are also times when support tasks are draining and frustrating.  Here are a few ways to avoid the pitfall of burnout amidst task-oriented roles in the Church.


1. Start with a solid vision.  Spend some time thinking about and praying about why your work matters to the kingdom.  Sometimes it can feel like the  “up front” roles are most important, but they only thrive when support roles also exist. At my church, we often say that as good as the gathering is, if a person doesn’t have a “gospel experience” in the parking lot, the bathroom, and on their way to find their seat, then the gathering might be less impactful for them.  Read more about vision for creative roles in my article, Creativity: For Glory and for Beauty.


2. Build a team. Ephesians 4:12 instructs us, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”. Sometimes investing in a team is more about giving people an opportunity to be ministry participants, than it is about helping you get more done.  But, if you’re smart and intentional, building a team can accomplish both goals. Don’t forget to remind them regularly why what they are doing matters to the kingdom of God.  Read more about building a team in my article, 6 Production Team Building Essentials.


3. Be an influencer. Whether it’s through a blog, a podcast, or social media, sharing your work with others is a great way to give a broader purpose to your tasks. It glorifies God when the Church collaborates and shares resources.  Think of who could benefit from your unique experience and then engage them with the wisdom you have to offer.  Building a network of people who have similar roles in churches can help inspire you as well as giving you an opportunity to inspire others.


4. Have lots of conversations with people in roles not like your own.  This is a big one.  Nothing has helped me be more flexible, positive, and genuinely gracious to my team more than taking time to understand what it’s like to do the work my teammates do.  


5. Do things you love.  Sometimes, we get so caught up in producing work, that we forget to experience life and fun. Refreshing yourself with the things you love in life is one of the best ways to fuel your passion and productivity.


6. Surround yourself with people who inspire you.  Notice that I didn’t say “Surround yourself with creative and hard-working people”. How someone does their work, is much more contagious than what they produce. Not all people who are producing great work are going to drive you to do the same. You know yourself best, so evaluate what types of people inspire you to glorifies God and then invite them to give you advice and direction.

 


7. Set manageable goals.  One of the most stress-relieving changes I have made in my job, has been looking  to the future and setting manageable goals.  For probably the first two years at my job, it seemed like I was just spinning my wheels to get a bunch of unimportant, urgent things done.  But when I started anticipating the important, non-urgent tasks, I began making big strides in my effectiveness.  So, a couple of times a year, set some goals for the future.  Be realistic by choosing only one or two areas at a time to focus on for major growth or change.


8. Strive for excellence, but plan for mistakes. I think God is glorified when we bring our A game – when we start out a task planning to absolutely kill it!  But I also think God is glorified when we are flexible and gracious if something derails our excellence.  Whether it’s a mistake you or your team member makes or a technical difficulty, be ready to move on and keep working towards the best outcome.  


9. Practice submission. Production roles are often executed the best when we have a passion for making someone else look good, or taking their vision and making it a reality.  That takes a lot of trust and humility. I don’t know about you, but trust, humility and submission are not traits that I naturally demonstrate without the Holy Spirit.  So, submit regularly to God through intimacy with Him, obeying His word, and engaging with His community.  And as you submit to God, allow that to spill over to other headships God has placed in your life.

6 Production Team Building Essentials

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1. Start with vision.

Your volunteers will be passionate about your vision if you consistently share the why behind the what.

If you’re willing to train volunteers on the exact expectations of their job, you should also be willing to share the reason for those expectations. For our church production team, a high priority is to minimize distraction so that people can freely engage in worship or focus during the message. Because of that vision, we train our volunteers to make transitions smoothly and during times in the gathering that feel most natural. Let’s remind our team that what we do matters because of why we do it.

And even beyond what we do in gatherings, we can remind our volunteers that anything they put their hands to can glorify God. Scripture teaches us that God regularly uses man to display His wonder through craft and creativity. See my article Creativity: For Glory and for Beauty. What a great privilege it is to partner with Christ in reflecting His beauty to the world!


2. Clarify the win.

Ask yourself, “If one of my team members had to describe A+ level service on my team, would they know what to say?”  Do your team members have clarity on what the WIN looks like?  Feel free to set the bar high (at A+ level). Then, remind your team that perfection isn’t necessary, but doing their absolute best is a way to serve Christ’s bride.  


If it’s helpful, write down some expectations together as a team and then display them for everyone to use in self-evaluating. We have about 10-15 Middle and High School students (as well as 2 interns) who serve on my production team for weekly Student Ministry gatherings. Recently, an intern and I developed a “Rate Yo-Self” form for team members to fill out after each gathering. The form is complete with a list of expectations, an emoji scale, and a reminder of the purpose of the form. The next time they serve, they get to see their form and remember in what areas they can improve. This is just one example of a way to remind your team exactly what the win looks like.

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3. Never stop recruiting.

Has this ever happened to you?  You feel like you’ve built up your volunteer team well and you can relax for awhile on recruiting. So, you let your guard down for a little while and all of the sudden, you have no volunteers! We’ve all been there. During a busy season or a transition in leadership, you stop recruiting for a second and the ship sinks!  This has happened to me and other co-workers enough that I now realize recruiting can never be put on the back burner.  People move, they go through craziness at work or home, they start serving on other teams, or your church’s production needs increase. We can’t afford to take a break on recruiting, while people’s real lives keep going.

In Andy Stanley’s book, Next Generation Leader, he teaches young leaders to “Only do what only you can do.”  If you’re leading a team of any kind, recruiting and training is probably something that only you can do well.

Carve out more time than you need for recruiting, training and maintaining. Then, become unwilling to let any other responsibility take its place.

One last point I’ll make before I get off my recruiting soapbox. Don’t just recruit for new team members, but also recruit for higher skilled team members. On my volunteer team, I have 3  different tiers of responsibility. To staff my gatherings appropriately, I have to always be looking out for the people who show potential to move up. If someone is doing an excellent job or they have passion for learning something more advanced, I take note. Then, I share some encouragement, goals, and incentives with them. Anything from learning a new skill, to getting to serve in more gatherings, to… CANDY can be effective incentives. Volunteers at higher skill levels can be the most difficult to replace, so always be training up your current team to move forward.


4. Decide what you expect from your team and then be consistent in protecting them.

To me, this also falls into the “only do what only you can do” category. If you are a production team leader, you are in the best position to understand the skill level of your volunteers and the needs of your church. You are also in the best position to help the leaders above you understand the capacity and limitations of your team. You can and should act as a liaison between the team you lead and the leaders above you. Make sure your team and your church are set up to win each week.  

Scenarios where I feel I need to protect my team often occur around the games we plan for our weekly Student Ministry gatherings. Sometimes a great idea for a game requires that the person running media cues a sound effect in a split second or reveals an answer to a trivia question on the spot. In moments like these, any delay can cause awkwardness and distraction in the gathering.  When possible, I try to work towards a solution that allows either our staff communicator or the game participants to be controlling any split-second reveals.

It doesn’t help anyone if you pridefully say “yes” to big production requests, just to turn around and fail at the execution because your team wasn’t adequately trained. It also doesn’t help to shoot an automatic “no” out to any production request.  I try to answer any request from my leaders kind of like this: “Yes, I love that idea. I want to talk through how we can make that happen in the most effective way. Here are my team’s limitations, so what if we tweaked your idea a bit to be sure this runs smoothly?”

Your leaders will respect you for positively moving towards a solution, and your volunteers will appreciate you for not asking them to take on responsibilities they aren’t trained for.


5. Don’t forget that you are partnering with God.

When you get in the thick of your pre-gathering prep or the busiest season of your year, it can be tempting to just put your head down and get stuff done. But, stopping to ask The Creator to give you the inspiration, direction, and energy to lead your team well is absolutely essential! I went to college for architecture and one time I had a project I was working on that just totally stumped me. It was a design studio project and I felt like I just had creativity block.  Everything I tried seemed forced. One late night in the studio before a big presentation, I was super frustrated. Then I thought, “I feel like I’ve tried everything, but have I even tried asking God to help me be creative?”  So I prayed (almost jokingly – not expecting it to work) and within 10 minutes I had overhauled the design, and come up with a great idea that would drive the entire project. I don’t think that praying will manipulate God to give us anything we ask for. God is not our butler! But, I do think sometimes we just need our Creator to breath life and inspiration into our work!

I wholeheartedly believe that an intimate relationship with God makes me a better creator and leader.

I don’t know how many times I’ve had my volunteers cancel last minute, or a piece of equipment fail shortly before a gathering, and I’ve had to cry out to God on behalf of the students about to walk through our doors. Our best work is done when we partner with God, realizing that even our best efforts will pale in comparison to a joint effort with Him. He desires for us to participate with Him in the redeeming work He is doing in the world (not the other way around).


6. Have fun.

It’s such a privilege to get the opportunity to do creative work on behalf of our Father. And, honestly, I can’t think of any area in the church I would enjoy serving in more than production! For those of us who enjoy technology and creativity, this work is FUN! Let’s remember to celebrate that regularly with our teams.  

As a leader, your demeanor can have a huge influence on the mood of your team. So make it an absolute priority to discuss life with your team, play games with them, acknowledge them on social media, joke with them, and celebrate with them after a job well done. If you’re anything like me, forgetting to intentionally prioritize the FUN will cause you to let it fall through the cracks for months at a time.

Sometimes the weight of our responsibilities or the urgency of our tasks can take our focus, but bringing back the fun can re-energize you and your volunteers.

Resolve to Take More Pictures: How Photography Can Impact Your Ministry

If your work-week looks anything like mine, you usually spend one day planning, one day nailing down details, one day on the actual gathering, one day tying up loose ends, and one day devoted to a secondary ministry or supporting other areas of your church. If you’re lucky, you get an actual break for a couple of days until it starts all over again.  If you add to that a bunch of meetings, some crisis situations, and lots of relational investment, you often find yourself struggling just to do tasks that seem urgent and essential. Taking pictures during the busiest time of your week is probably never on your “essential tasks” list. But effectively utilizing photos of your ministry can save you a ton of time in the long-run as well as engage your students in an important way.

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THE IMPACT:

Imagine if all of your ministry’s website/social media posts got twice the traction.  Imagine if every slide you display during gatherings makes your students feel engaged, involved and like they belong.  Imagine if students and their friends come to expect a youthful, trendy environment that feels like their own. Imagine if creating media for your gathering is much quicker and easier.

That’s what you stand to gain with just a little work on the front end and some intention use of photography.

HOW:

Ask a volunteer  (a student who’s learning photography, a leader who’s good with a camera or any creative iPhone user) to take photos of your ministry in action. Set your photographer up for success by giving them clear direction before they start shooting. It’s a good idea to give them a shot list, some boundaries on when and where to shoot (without being distracting), and vision on the importance of their task. Minimize distractions by having them capture band and speaker photos during sound check and by giving them a volunteer badge or lanyard (if your ministry uses them).

WHEN:

Trips, events and special gatherings, right? Wrong! We are naturally inclined to take photos during special nights but usually those photos get used only once and then they are outdated.  Instead, focus on capturing photos of typical gatherings and recurring events. Refresh your stock of photos at least every 6 months. Then, whenever you are promoting or communicating about your ministry you have lots of current, relevant photos to choose from.

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WHAT:

You might also be tempted to take photos only of things happening on stage or up front.  But the most impactful, dynamic ministry moments are happening off stage.  Consider taking photos of the pre-gathering and post-gathering hangout times, small groups, prayer, games and your atmosphere (if there’s anything unique in the room that brands your ministry).

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Consider using your photos for elements in your gathering that could be more contextualized to your specific group.  Instead of a generic countdown video, make a countdown video of photos from your ministry. Use it once or twice in a gathering and then remove the countdown clock and post it to your youtube channel or website as a promo video for a typical gathering.

If you’re not a video editing master, there are some inexpensive websites that create dynamic videos with your content.

animoto.com 

WHO:

Students LOVE seeing themselves on screen, so make sure your photographer takes photos of a diverse mix of students – not just the popular ones, the band, or the pastor’s kid!

Now that you have a fresh stock of diverse images, use them for info walls, promo cards, social media/website posts, gathering slides, etc. This will make designing graphics that are impactful to your specific audience much quicker and easier.