Reflecting on events mentors and partners

Posted on October 5th, 2020

Here’s a moment from an event that I produced last night

It required working with worship directors and campus pastors from across 14 campuses to put together this event. We had two weeks to produce the whole thing LOL Obviously the type of thing well it should be 3 to 4 months out...

I always remember one of my mentors saying way back when we were starting Genesis (a nonprofit that I had the privilege of being part of the founding leadership team on) that you "can figure out how to pull off any single event in as short as two weeks...that creating the infrastructure to pull off continuous weekly events is a different thing." Anyway, for more than two decades now, remembering hearing that spoken has helped me define the audacious things I say yes to even if they’re not fully even in *my* head when hearing about the concept.

Another mentor regularly talked about finding your "killers"...your "Barry Sanders to hand the ball to"...your people to partner with and give them ownership to make their part great. I am so blessed to work with multiple such people in their areas!

I always respected that mentor. And I’m super grateful to have learned by watching them. I had no idea how difficult, complex, and nuanced their job was. The past few years as I’ve grown into hey season where I am the executive producer and leader of process, my appreciation has grown so much for those who helped shape me and those that I get to currently journey with.

Anyway, it was a lot of hard work, however what a gift to add this event to my treasured memories.

My view of the moment in the video from the front row:

I wouldn’t be me without some great mentors along the way. I’m grateful to them.

I’m grateful for the team that I get to partner with. Some amazing people with incredible talent and even more beautiful hearts. it’s a thrill to be part of such fun with them.

GTD Delegation = Leadership Context

Posted on September 7th, 2020

Getting things done is perhaps the greatest context for leadership development.

A couple weeks ago we put up our new design. It’s the first time that most of my team has ever used LED panels. It was also the first time that many of them had hung a new plot using traditional paperwork and lighting design theory. I have a person on my team with a lot of potential as both a leader and a designer.

This individual had the chance to run point in project managing the turn. Many successes as well as some challenges and learning opportunities along the way. The now have been figuring out how to lead making the most of it with weekend designs. They have some experience in the programming chair, however this is a larger plot than they are used to.

It’s great to see what learning in the deep end does to people. It prompts great questions and yields some fantastic epiphanies. The growth and development is encouraging. Pretty cool to to see them not only develop as a leader and designer on their own, but also with their volunteer team!

Here’s a really lovely walk-in look from yesterday:


Coaching Stage Design

Posted on September 3rd, 2020

So, I’m coaching a Worship Director friend in a consultation thread about the design updates they want to implement on their stage. Here’s a copy/paste of the last message I typed in the thread:

My encouragement to you in thinking about design is to build a mood board of things that you’d like. I can then help you in designing something that is true to your taste and feels current and that will look good for in the room as well as for the lens.
And I definitely encourage not gathering any more than 50% of your inspiration from HOW. Honestly, I recommend staying beneath 10 or even 5% if possible.
The "church scene" is sadly very derivative. Don’t make a copy of a copy of a copy. The best design in the world is inspired by nature and original eureka ideas. If choosing existing work to be inspired by, I suggest studying great architecture, flipping through an art history textbook, or watching a broadway show. Watch the Grammys or some top name as well as highly creative indie concerts if you want something that is more live production. Watching other churches is far too often simply copying people who have copied many people before.
Also, it’s never about specific gear. It’s about the feel that you want to have things look like and the budget and existing inventory that you have access to.


And then I just read this related thought in the book, Disrupt by Luke Williams.


Audition Day Scheduled

Posted on August 27th, 2020

If you sing or play an instrument, we’d love to have you consider joining us for an audition. We’d love to meet you and hear your story. Please do reach out.



Provide Clarity

Posted on August 12th, 2020

"We can’t promise certainty;
however we can provide clarity."

My boss spoke this phrase yesterday. I wrote it down in my BuJo and have been contemplating it. As a person with the identity of Ambassador of Hope and Beauty, it’s important for me to remember this. I need to not overpromise in the hope that I speak; and I need to strive for clarity when I speak strategically as I point toward vision.

Practice Leadership that Transcends the Present

Posted on July 21st, 2020

Work behind closed doors to help people in their careers, treat your colleagues like customers and create surprise and delight moments for them, be humble in victory and defeat, and be there for your team by staying in touch even if you move on.
It’s the simple, uncommon behaviors that any of us can replicate that makes a great leader — who’ll never be forgotten, even when they leave this world.
I snipped the above lines from this article by Tim Denning. I love the simple encouragement he presents here. Care well for your team. Care more about them as people and about their future than you do about whatever current tasks or context of the present involve. Think legacy; and basically, practice the Golden Rule.

Shelter In Place Digital Church Service

Posted on June 16th, 2020

So, the phrase is unprecedented. Never been done before. Fluid. All the things we have been hearing in this season.

Some of you know that back in February, I started a new full time job as Creative Director at Woodside. I was basically there for 5 weeks and then my job description completely transformed. I went from responsible for arts and production at our main campus to being the producer of what we streamed for all 14 of our campuses!

I was still in that season of my new tenure where I was resisting the urge to start bringing change. My job was to observe everything and meet people. Leading things forward would come in due time and at the right pace.

That all immediately shifted with a conference call on a Thursday afternoon where we decided that we wouldn’t have guests. I declared that we could do a live-to-record of each of the parts (music, sermon, panel discussion, etc.) in time to edit it all into a good finished product that felt authentic and compelling. Then I got on the phone and we started prepping. 36 hours later, we were rehearsing. A totally fresh feel to our setting with recording on the front steps with a "b-stage" type of feel for the music, and transitions mapped out for the communication to feel great from stools down front with the regular broadcast cameras locations moved up close to translate better for an online audience to feel intimately connected even though they weren’t on-site. A couple hours later, we were recording. We captured each of the parts; and later that Saturday afternoon, we successfully wove the different segments into what was received as a blessing of a weekend service that was streamed on Sunday.

The following week, I changed it up and took us out to the lobby to take our experience from our "living room" to those of everyone at home.

One week later, we clamped down even further as a state. We were now fully Shelter In Place with the charge to not leave the home if not an "essential worker." We lived this out. We had set our senior pastor up with a camera/mic/lighting rig at his house. One of our other campus pastors had a couple cameras with him that he wisely put in his car. Several phone calls and Zoom/Teams meetings to plan our service. Some more phone calls, text threads, and FaceTime coaching calls as there was a lot of work to give example setups of the video and audio and coaching decent lighting and shot compositions. Being natural in front of the camera is a legit thing. The tricky part was getting our Music Director to create click and guide for the husband/wife to sing and play along with.

The creation of that was a key part of a little secret project I worked on in the background. I had our MD record himself playing piano and signing on the chorus of one of the songs. I talked with a number of the Worship Directors from various campuses and had them take that click/guide and record themselves playing their instrument and singing along with the choruses. I sold this to them to give a try of a prototype of an idea that I imagined… I surprised everyone by editing a virtual band that joined in from so many other living rooms as a way to continue the "our living rooms to yours" that we could have be a really special part of the season. It aired that Sunday with great reception to the moment.

That prototype sold the team and leadership that my idea was worth building on. We did! It was pretty fun. We soon were having nearly a dozen people in our music cast. A leader for each song would be the first to record themselves singing/playing along with the click/guide. That was sent back and reworked as a version that went out to the rest of the cast so that people could be in play and sing in perfect time and harmony to that lead for each song. We developed our process for hosting with the pre-service welcome-to-the-stream, mid-service transitions and announcements, closing action steps. We figured out how to record the sermon with being off camera with a Zoom to coach while the recording was going to the main camera. We began doing creative liturgical moments for the congregation to participate in interactive prayer, scripture readings, and creeds. We also used zoom to do some panel recordings with medical experts and such.

We built ourselves up to be four weeks out in the planning process. We were averaging probably 25 hours of content that we were editing through every weekend. Usually we had 8 to 15 musicians and vocalists including fall rhythm band, strings, and other specialty instruments. In addition to our Central host, each of our 14 campus pastors delivered their sermon.

The music was mixed by one team (a person receiving, labeling, and preQC of claps and such; another to mix songs each week; another to help master and help me hold a brand) while the video was edited by a team usually each person doing a couple songs per week. As mixes would be updated, we would see how that helped steer the video edits and vice versa.

Meanwhile, for communication we would start writing our talking points and scripts a few weeks out. We would be on zoom calls to record central sermon and host. The rest, we were available for coaching the setups and such. A team of three editors handled all the communication parts.

Our Technical Director lined up the parts according to PCO and then I would work final transitions for the Central export. He then would work the remaining 13 to match. All 14 were exported and uploaded and our IT and Social teams made sure that they were posted and hosted well. It was a joy to tune in and watch on Sunday mornings.

I’m really proud of the process documentation that we wrote for leading people to record themselves and have it translate to fit in a compelling manner for a full video production. It was really great to have able to share our "playbook" with mega churches and school districts from around the country. Humbling and encouraging to hear stories of how it was used.

A highlight of the season for was early on where Holy Week we pulled off Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday services. After that weekend, I sent the tally below to our team. It certainly has been an honor and thrill getting to lead in this season.

By my count, last week’s Good Friday and Easter services required:
  • 13 computers (with multiple crashes and reboots required as they were pushed past the max) for such tasks as creating music, collecting and filing assets, editing video, mixing audio, producing graphics, polishing transitions and signing off with QC before export.
  • 15 sermons / preachers
  • 6 hosts for communication, Scripture readings, Creeds, etc.
  • Also Communion.
  • As well as some special content for First Service and Families.
  • 9 songs as well as an organ prelude!
  • >100 artists’ content of audio and video were part of our "choir"

Here is that Easter service:
Other services can be found:
Some of my other favorites:

I’ll add some photos to help illustrate this post. For now, let me state that I am super grateful for the team I got to work with and for trust that was put in me to lead. I feel like I was uniquely brought here for this purpose.

My Sons’ Lives Matter

Posted on June 14th, 2020

Some things are worth breaking quarantine rules for. What a treasure to take my son to his first protest the other day.

#BLACKLIVESMATTER

Character Discipline and Friendships

Posted on June 1st, 2020

I wrote the following note to one of my graduating seniors I coached this past year. I suggest it’s good encouragement to all of us as we navigate transitions and seek to live life well.


Remain at your core the high quality person of character that you are.
Be considerate, friendly, poised, curious, clever, fun.
Practice healthy disciplines—physically, mentally, spiritually.
Treasure good friendships—sage wisdom from mentors, young men that you can pass along inspiration and challenge, and with a few true friends whom you can truly know and be known by in life’s journey.

The Value of the Queen

Posted on May 2nd, 2020

A friend of mine shared a thought about the lesson some of us learned in our study of chess. A wise instructor will sometimes use the strategy of making us play without the queen. How frustrating it is to play without such a powerful piece on the board.

However, without relying on the queen and her significant power, we gain appreciation for the capacity, capabilities, and strategic value of our other pieces. Once the queen is re-introduced, we realize that our game has risen to a new level.

May we as leaders make the most of the season as we learn to maximize other resources and strategies. If we can learn to thrive without in person gatherings, then when we finally reintroduce such, imagine our capacity!

Eric G Wolfe

Process Architect. Design Strategist. Leadership Coach.