Please don’t judge me. #Minecraft #NerdAlert #Current
This Torah, (with commentary) belonged to my Gramps, Bill Dean. He gave it to me today as they move: “To my wonderful grandson. Preach the truth and be blessed! - Bill Dean. This immediately became one of my most prized possessions. Thankful for my heritage on both my mother and father’s sides. (Taken with Instagram at BRANSON, MISSOURI)
My father, Jerry Dean, turns 60 today. I’ve never imagined my dad being in his 60s, but when I look around and see his five grandchildren running and crawling around during the rare, happy moments that we’re all together, I guess it does make sense.
He has been the lead pastor of The Pentecostals of Bossier City for 24 years. He serves on the Global Missions Board of the UPCI. He is the Director of Louisiana Apostolic Man Ministries, and the Vice President of the UPCI’s Apostolic Man Ministries. He has preached on four continents, including the General Conferences of North America and the UK.
In short, my father has smashed the incorrect (and absolutely infuriating) notion that many carry in regards to ministers: that they play golf, sip coffee, and only have to work on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. I have watched my dad exhaust himself seven days a week for as long as I’ve lived.
There is a reason he has impacted so many people: his passion is overwhelming.
I have said dozens of times that the highest compliment that I can pay my father is that he is the exact same man in the comforts of his home that he is when standing behind the pulpit. There is no pretension within him. There is no ambiguity in his actions — when he preaches against secularism, materialism, and spiritual complacency, it is because he consistently avoids sin, greed, and lethargy in his private life.
Though he has given the benediction at the installation of a governor, he has never valued the company of those in positions of power or prominence over that of the humble workers of his community. There is no prejudice, no haughtiness, and no cynicism in his dealings with others.
He calls himself “the redneck pastor,” and he genuinely seems most at peace when walking on the land some relatives own in Oklahoma and East Texas, leading his grandsons down trails or snapping pictures of them catching their first fish. His eyes still light up as he recounts the many stories of his childhood in De Leon, Texas, some of which I’ve heard several times, but hope he never stops telling.
I have always respected my dad for his character and commitment, but I must confess there was not always a time that I properly valued it. As a teenager, I thought and said countless hurtful things about our church and religious beliefs. I came to hate the work of God and the demands that the job my father accepted placed upon not only him, but our family. I bristled every time someone said, “You’re the pastor’s son — you should know better!” I’ll skip over the rest of the story, but I found healing at an altar at 18-years-old, and with it regained my admiration for the selflessness that my parents have always displayed.
Today, Jerry Dean is not just my pastor — he’s also my boss. I am privileged to be able to work beside him in our offices, to walk beside him as he minister’s to this community, and pray beside him at the altars of POBC.
I didn’t always understand why my dad sought a higher level of self-sacrifice which seemed above that of so many in his profession, but when I see him praying at the altar for a visitor who is receiving the Holy Ghost for the first time, the alcoholic who has stumbled into our church and is seeking deliverance, or the prodigal who cannot walk another step without pursing redemption, and I see the tears streaming down both their faces as God’s beautiful work is done, then it makes sense.
When I see our church acting on their faith, serving their community, and loving those who desperately need it, then it makes sense.
When I hear the young ministers from all around the country tell me, “You have no idea what your dad reaching out to me meant,” then it makes sense.
When I stand in the midst of a crowded auditorium, and I feel the faith arising in the people around me due to the passionately-delivered words from the “redneck pastor” preaching to them, and I know that the reason it resonates is because the of the genuine nature of his anointing, then it makes sense.
I once made the incredibly painful accusation to my father that he was “pastor first, father second.” Please allow me a few final paragraphs to address my father directly:
Dad, please forgive me for ever uttering those words. I was speaking from a perspective that was limited, and my heart was not in the right place.
Over the years I have come to understand something: your being a good father doesn’t come from the fact that you’re a good pastor. You’re being a good pastor comes from the fact that you’re an incredible father.
Thank you for all the love you pour out — to your wife, your children, your grandchildren, and your son-and-daughter-in-laws. We all love and respect you more than you’re even aware.
Happy 60th Birthday, Dad,
I love you.
The heir to the Dean family fortune (I.e. a few cameras, some nerdy collectives, and lots of t-shirts): (Taken with Instagram)
The final post in this three-part series will focus on the oft-overlooked member of your ministry team: the operator. This is the guy or gal scurrying awkwardly before service. He’s keying in and ordering songs, choosing backgrounds, getting scriptures from the pastor, and generally panicking five minutes before every service.
Let me say it one last time before continuing: unless you’ve sat in his seat, you don’t know just how nerve-wrecking this job can be.
That being said, media operators can take many steps to ensure they’re serving their church and pastor to the best of their ability.
1. PUT THE LYRICS ON SCREENS BEFORE THEY ARE SUNG
I’ve actually fought with fellow media operators about this, but I feel it’s important enough to place at the top of the list (this is particularly important in churches with a screen on the back wall for singers to reference during worship service).
Every church has a library of hundreds of songs. Each worship song consists of around 200 words (based on 20 of our church’s worship songs that I’ve selected at random and averaged out). Realistically, we have around 60 songs that are in our regular rotation. That means that if you make the argument, “Well, the singers should know the words,” then you expect them to memorize the arrangement of around 12,000 words.
That’s just crazy talk.
Worship teams consist almost exclusively of volunteers. They have lives — jobs, children, schoolwork, finances, and other sources of stress other than memorizing thousands of lyrics to dozens (or hundreds) of songs. They need help!
As the worship leader gives signs to the musicians and singers, prepare the next verse/chorus/bridge, and place it on the screen as the last two words of the current slide are sung. This will ensure an easy transition into the next slide, and there won’t be an awkward pause when half of the worship team neglects to come in at the right time because they forgot the words, or worse yet, sing the wrong words.
Additionally, placing the slides on the screens with time to spare will help the congregation join in when a new song is being played for the first or second time, assisting them in learning the song.
Finally, the most important reason for you placing the lyrics on the screen beforehand is that if you don’t, the awkward transition has the potential to snap someone out of worship. You actually have the potential to make or break the worship during a song. If they’re focusing on the mistake made by the singers, then they’re not focusing on worship, period.
2. PAY ATTENTION
At our church, the media operator is the floating head atop the media booth, perched high in our church’s risers. This is often the case — very few media computers are situated in open sight for the rest of the congregation to observe. The good thing about this: members of the congregation are less likely to bug your media operator with personal complaints (oftentimes unrelated to the media operator’s responsibilities) at inopportune moments because of close proximity and accessibility. The bad: media operators can be surrounded by distractions of their own.
Techies are chronic multi-taskers by nature. This benefits us in many situations, but it can also be a great hindrance when unobstructed focus is required. If you’re playing Angry Birds at the same time you’re supposed to be paying attention to the worship leader’s hand signals, you are about 5,000,000,000,000% more likely to miss the sign, make a mistake, and send the service into a realm of awkwardness.
Just in case you weren’t paying attention, that’s 5 trillion percent. I arrived at that figure by pure science.
3. ARRIVE EARLY
Running media requires time. If your pastor needs you to take a look at a video that he wants played before his message, and you’re not there at least 30 minutes early, then you’re not giving the job the respect it requires.
No, you won’t be needed early 90% of the time, but for that 10% you are, and you’re not there — that spells trouble.
4. DON’T REQUIRE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
As I’ve stated several times in this series of posts, your job as media operator is to never draw attention to yourself. The only times that people will acknowledge your presence is when you make a mistake.
If you throw Ezekiel 2:2 on the screens instead of Ecclesiastes 2:2, then people will look at you and scowl. If you start Verse 3 instead of the Bridge, singers will look at you in terror, then they will scowl.
But if you do your job properly, almost no one will be aware of your presence, and that’s okay! I’m sure your media team leader will thank you from time to time and your pastor might say, “Thank you, ______” when you look up a scripture quickly, but for the most part, media operations is a thankless job.
There is a certain nobility to doing a job faithfully and never requiring a pat on the back. It’s the heart of a servant, and God will certainly reward it.
The demands of the modern church have changed over the years, and media has been an integral part of that change. Used properly, it is a fantastic tool that can aid in adding a level of accessibility and polish to your services.
Used improperly, media could be a constant distraction for your congregation. Whether your’e the pastor, worship pastor, media team leader, or media operator, be sure you’re doing what you can to help make your church’s media flow smoothly. It WILL make a difference.