In this episode of OWC RADiO, host Cirina Catania, talks with technology expert, multi Instrumentalist, author, speaker, writer, producer, & worship team trainer, Steven Reed.
Steve along with his wife and children comprise the worship group, Steve & Shawn. Steve is an avid learner and teacher by nature and his extensive travels as a guest minister, long history of local church service, and experience in the recording industry provide a fresh perspective on how equipment can help resource the church.
In This Episode
- 00:09 – Cirina introduces Steven Reed, worship leader, writer, minister, and author.
- 04:07 – Steven talks about his recent trip to Peru with the Worship Leader Ministry.
- 07:41 – Steven describes the three components of helping communities develop their worship service.
- 12:21 – Steven talks about technology trends in churches that have successfully attracted and retained new members to their congregations.
- 15:43 – How does the Worship Leader ministry help communities be creative with available musical gear and equipment resources?
- 21:32 – What are the recommended models and gear for worship service?
- 26:11 – Steven talks about how he prefers using a wireless microphone like the Shure SM58 for worship service.
- 31:14 – Steven describes their setup at Worship Leader in shooting videos for worship services.
- 33:55 – Steven talks about the Sunday experience in churches and the adjustments that have happened due to the pandemic.
- 42:10 – Check out Worship Leader Magazine on their social media accounts, and visit their website, worshipleader.com, to learn how to grow in your understanding and practice of praying musically.
This is Cirina Catania with OWC Radio. Steven Reed of Worship Leader Magazine is here with me. And I am fascinated by what you do and who you do it for. So can you tell our listeners exactly what that is? And then tell us about your recent trip.
Sure. So excited to be here and thankful you guys are doing a podcast like this. So my name is Steven Reed, and I’m with Worship Leader Magazine. I’m with several other people at different times, my wife and I, and our family, do some music and travel, and do consulting for churches. But then we also take all of that knowledge, all that experience that we’ve had over decades of leading worship and being involved in churches and doing that consulting work and put that into Worship Leader Magazine, which is an online resource that has just so many decades. It’s basically 30 years of magazines and conferences. And we host a podcast of our own that we do with different worship and church influencers. And then we also get to go to different churches and preach and teach and lead people in worship. So it’s been an amazing journey, for sure.
And you’re also an author.
I also write a lot, obviously, write for Worship Leader Magazine, and I’ve written a book that is about ready to be published. I’m writing another book that was written later, but it’s going to be done before delegating because a lot of church people are struggling with learning how to delegate to other people. And so that’s exciting to be getting that out. I’ve written plays, I’ve written all kinds of different stuff, and it was kind of funny because I felt like I struggled in English class, with grammar and all those things. So I’m thankful for spell check, thankful for my wife, who knows some grammar.
And the AP Stylebook, right?
Yeah, I think it’s interesting. Delegating is a problem that all businesses have. It’s very difficult for someone who is either an alpha or very creative or the leader of a team. Sometimes teaching people how not to micromanage can be very, very valuable. That’s awesome that you’re doing that. So you’re multi-talented, and it’s awesome you’re doing this with your wife too. I think you’re very lucky that you found someone.
Oh, for sure.
And especially during this time of COVID, you have some company.
Our life in many ways has remained the same because we already homeschooled our kids, and because we’ve traveled so many years, we have gotten used to each other’s company. When we first came off the business regular nine to five, we had a pretty major adjustment because she was used to me being gone for 8-10 hours a day. I didn’t really know everything that happened at home, and so all of a sudden, we were thrown into this life together, like many people are experiencing now, and you’re like, you love each other, but now you have to love each other all the time and figure out how that’s all gonna work. So it’s been a big blessing. And especially here in Nashville, I live in the Nashville area and to meet so many musicians and creatives that have to travel for work, where one of them is gone, usually like three to four, as much as four weeks out of the month, and they’ll be home for a day or two or sometimes not even a full day before they have to go back out. And so it makes us very thankful that we get to do everything as a family.
I think that’s wonderful. You’re so lucky. I’m Sleepless in San Diego. I do get socially distant visits from my daughter and granddaughter once in a while, but basically, it is leaving me a lot of time to work on wonderful interviews like this that I’m fascinated by. And I want to tell our listeners too, we’re going to get into the technology in a moment, but I want to get a little bit more the background about you so that people know who you are and what you do and why you do it. So this recent trip, where did you go on this most recent trip?
Well, we go to Peru and have this kind of interesting call as really tall white folks to anybody that speaks Spanish. And so we spend a lot of time and a lot of our resources trying to get down. We’ve been to Argentina, we’ve been to Peru, multiple places in Peru, and it’s an interesting place to go. I mean, technologically speaking, because there’s just not much available. So it really forces you to get creative. And one thing I tell people is anything’s possible with a Peruvian because there are so many times where we were going to go change a speaker or do something, we’re like, “Oh, we don’t have a ladder,” and all of a sudden, somebody walks over and grabs the stack of chairs next to us and just pulls them over, climbs the stack of chairs and changes the speaker and I’m like, “Well, I didn’t put two and two together there at all.” I think I got to have a physical ladder, and it’s got to meet OSHA standards or whatever, but no, you just learn how to get it done. That whole part of our ministry has been an eye-opener and really helped us bring a lot of those things back even to the United States where sometimes we can get so focused on we got to have the exact right product, or I need this in order to at some point, be creative, where the countries that don’t have things, necessity becomes the mother of all invention.
It’s been interesting to be able to go and cross-culturally minister and be ministered to and kind of have more of a worldview and understand people and many times be the only white guy in the room and not even speaking the language but then developing my Spanish to the point where I can speak pretty fluently and even preach. It’s just an honor to have that opportunity.
I have a great love for the people of Peru that I met when I was filming there. I spent some time in Lima, and then went on to the Amazon and shot on the Amazon River and around the Amazon, and then went back to Lima. It’s a very dangerous community, though. Were you worried about all the equipment you have to travel with? When you do these missions, do you travel with a lot of equipment, or is it pretty lean and mean?
We pretty much decided early on that we were going to use whatever people had. And what happens in a lot of times of ministry, especially somebody will come into town, they’ll have all the latest gadgets, and they’ll set it up, and it’ll be this big deal. It’ll sound amazing, and they’ll look amazing. And then when they leave, they take all of their stuff with them. And so then the people are left well now I got to buy all this stuff. So for us to be able to go in, we will use whatever keyboard you have, whatever soundboard you have, whatever lights you have, and we then teach the people how to use their stuff, and then when we leave, it’s all set up still, and they get to benefit from the time together. So that makes it really interesting because you never know what you’re going to get. But I believe it’s been certainly helpful for me because I’ve learned and been operating on pretty much any soundboard you can think of, and have to figure it out within a very quick amount of time. But the benefit long term, it makes us more valuable as a guest minister, I guess.What makes traveling on missions really interesting is you never know what you're going to get. It really teaches you to work with what you have. Click To Tweet
Isn’t it amazing to watch people with such ingenuity? I mean, I was fascinated by them. And there were times when we were lighting the environment with light bulbs and lamps and aluminum foil on cardboard. It’s amazing what you can do. I love that you’re doing that, though, because it’s generic, it’s organic. And are you teaching them how to use technology to help their worship services, or are you also teaching filmmaking in general?
We teach any and all of what they’re called to do. Some churches are very technologically advanced, and others are just looking to turn something on. And so for us, there’s a technological standpoint, where you need to know how to push the buttons and get things to do what they need to do sound-wise, especially. But then there’s a leadership component, as far as for us in the idea of leading worship, we’re trying to not worship in front of people, we’re trying to get other people to worship. And so you have to figure out how you stand up in front of people. How do you present yourself? How do you get somebody who doesn’t necessarily want to sing to sing? And so there’s a whole lot of things that really play into that. And then the third piece is then the spiritual component of what is worship? Why are we worshiping? Who are we singing to? What are we expecting to happen while we’re singing? And for a lot of people, they’ve never really given that much of a thought. They’re just kind of up there doing what they’ve seen, being done. And so once we are able to give them some teaching on all those fronts, it helps people move forward towards whatever they’re doing. There have definitely been times where we’re like, “Alright, well, I don’t know much about this particular piece of gear but let’s jump in there and figure it out and read the manual and look online and give it the best,” and so it’s been an amazing journey for sure.
What an adventure. I had trouble getting online when I was in Peru. Oh, my goodness. Even in Lima, the connection was so slow. And then, of course, on the Amazon, we didn’t have one at all. So I warned my family that I would be completely out of range. It was even challenging to charge any of the equipment when there’s no electricity.
And it’s 220 and unstable power.
Yeah. That you can kind of handle but when there’s nothing to plug into. In this case, I had to carry everything I was going to use on my back. This is really exciting. So there has been a push in the last I don’t know how long it’s been, you know more about this than I do. In the last, what? Twenty years or so to bring more and more technology into the worship experience. And some people don’t like it, and other people love it. I happen to love it when my church has some great music, and we can all just sing and worship together, and it sounds good, and it looks good, and then you can watch the videos afterwards and share them with your family and friends. I like that. But when did all this high tech start for churches? Can you give us a little bit of background on that?
It’s an interesting aspect of church in general because, for a lot of people who don’t attend church, their thought of singing or having worship in church is maybe something from when they were a kid and they kind of imagine an older lady behind an organ or a piano. And so they’re surprised I’ve met quite a few people when I describe what we do and say we have a band and we play in church, and they’re like me, and there’s like a band. We have a sound system, and some people have lights, and then there are people that do really fancy lights, and they have just like smoke behind, and then there are big projectors, sometimes an entire wall of video monitors that are behind that are displaying artistic pieces that coincide with what they’re singing about. That’s kind of a shock because the church has been evolving over the course of time and use of technology, and as you said, not everybody, in particular, agrees, but that’s part of what makes the body of Christ or the church as a whole. Amazing is that we don’t all have to agree. Everybody’s got their own little flavor of that. But part of it, I think the biggest reason why people have moved toward that is seeing some of the success of certain churches. Hillsong out of Australia would be one of them, and other Australian churches called Planetshakers have been very technologically forward and really push the limits on some of those things as far as lights and screens and being really loud. And so those churches, for us in America really kind of like woke us up to be like, hey, what if we explored these options? And so then you watch their churches now like Elevation Church, which is out on the East Coast, you’ve got Bethel, which is out on the west coast and.
There’s a lot of technology that is involved in those. And so when pastors and congregations see that they’re hoping to achieve a similar level of what we would maybe call success in the sense of attracting people, retaining people, and a big push of it has been to try and capture quote, unquote, the young people. And so for 10-20 years now, that’s been a major push in the church is, hey, we’ve got this whole generation of people that we’re not necessarily capturing anymore the way that we’ve been doing it. And so what do young people want? Let’s try and move that direction. Because some of those things are not theological arguments about whether or not it’s right or wrong to have an electric guitar versus having a harp versus having an organ, it really comes down to preference. And so a lot of people are like, we need to basically cater to the preferences of the upcoming generations. So that’s been interesting to watch as the mainline denominational churches, like the Baptist, the Methodists, some of those congregations have been shrinking over the course of time. Whereas some of the other non-denominational churches and some of the charismatic churches like the Bethel’s have been seeing a very sharp rise in attendance. And so a lot of people are kind of trying to figure out who’s doing what, how they’re doing, how can I incorporate that? And then, at the end of the day, they got to figure out who we were supposed to be as a congregation. And not everybody agrees, even within that same congregation. So it can be a challenge. And that’s part of what we come in and kind of give people the help of like, “Hey, here’s some things to think about,” but who are you? Who are you called to reach? And then give them some equipment to go do that.Try and move into the direction of what young people want. Some matters don’t have to be theological arguments. Sometimes it really just comes down to preference. Click To Tweet
So when you walk into a church for the first time, you mentioned at one point that there’s a back closet of gear that every church has. Can you explain what you meant by that? When we were talking earlier.
It is uncanny how every church in the United States of America and even parts of South America have this closet where they just take all of the gear that they bought, and either doesn’t know how to use it or thought that they didn’t need it and it just accumulates in the spot.
I’m laughing because we have one too.
Yeah. Everybody does. They know where it is. And it’s kind of like the junk drawer maybe, but like, we always called it our treasure trove because we would walk in and kind of take a look at everybody’s system and look and see what kind of gear they have. And I’d be like, Oh, you guys probably could use one of these. And almost without fail, I would walk back into the closet, and I’d always just ask them, “Hey, can you show me where the closet is of your stuff?” and they’re like, “How did you know we had a closet?” “I just know.” And so we go back there, and sure enough, the very thing that they need is laying under three or four different other things. And what I’ve found to be true, and almost every single church is that every church has what they need, they just don’t know how to use it. We’ll go in there and pull out the gear that they could use and the gear that they can’t use, then we help them sell it on eBay or Reverb or something like that, to get or donate it to another church, or send it on a mission trip. Some of the stuff that people have in their back closet, which is just astronomically expensive in South American countries.
So I always encourage people to give that stuff away or get the resources back so you can buy the things that you do need. But for us, in the Christian world, so much of our technical stuff comes down to this place where we’re hoping that we can get more stuff in order to be creative, and we’re not necessarily creative with the stuff that we have. And for us, we would call that stewardship. When I was younger, I used to hate that word. Because it usually meant that my pastor wasn’t going to approve my purchase request because I was always like, “Hey, we have this problem. I found this piece of gear that if we bought, it’s going to fix this problem.” And what I’ve come to realize is that those back closets are filled with all the products that we’re going to fix some problem. And now here they are, just sitting in a closet collecting dust. And so he would always say, “Once you learn how to use what you have, then we can look at buying something more.” And I would always say, “Well, why don’t you buy me what we need, and then I’ll learn to use it.” But stewardship doesn’t work that way. It works the other way. You got to use what you have, and then you get more. And I think for a lot of churches and just people in general, that’s not our culture that we’re kind of raised up in, and certainly not the advertising and the promotional materials that we get. Or if you go to a conference, everybody’s there trying to sell you something trying to push something on you say, “Hey, this is the thing that you need,” but they don’t necessarily have your best interest in mind. They’re trying to make the sales quota or trying to find something that is going to be worth something. They don’t make any money if you learn how to use the reverb unit that you have stashed back away. They want you to buy this new soundboard.Once you learn how to use what you have, then you can look at buying more. Click To Tweet
So that was always a challenge for us. I’m not a salesperson, so it made it easy for me to walk in and be like, I’m here to teach you how to use what you have and to give you guidance on. If you were gonna buy something, this is what you should buy. So I didn’t make any more or less money, but it made it a lot cleaner, I guess, in the sense of purpose and heart behind why we were there and what we’re doing.
Right. And a certain amount of believability too.
It doesn’t matter to me which way you go.
Talk to me for a minute about-and I know this is kind of like asking you how much dinner is going to cost when I don’t know what you’re going to order. But if you walk into a new church, and for example, the very minimum setup, what would the very minimum setup be if they want the pastor to have a voice that you can hear? And maybe there’s a choir or a singer and a guitar, organ, whatever, what kind of equipment would you like to see in the most basic situation?
Yeah, some of it comes down to the setup what a mobile church not would be somebody that doesn’t have a space of their own, and they’re renting a space, say at the local school or a gym somewhere, and they’re hauling their stuff in and out,
Right. There you go.
That really changes the cost pretty significantly versus if it’s someplace where you can leave gear set up. And then really the question of like, how technologically advanced are you hoping to be? Those can really play into the price point. I tend to be kind of on the cheaper end of stuff in the sense of finding the right stuff of what you need. And again, I tend to be like, In the middle of like I understand the high tech stuff, but I also know what it’s like to be in South America and not have the finances to be able to buy anything. I always say I’m the voice of reason in the middle. And so that has been helpful for Worship Leader Magazine doing tech reviews, and again, being able to consult and say like, well, you could buy this soundboard. The basic soundboard is gonna cost you somewhere around $1000 to $2,000. But if you’re a tech, the person that’s going to run this doesn’t know anything about technology, then all of these extra bells and whistles of things that it could do are never going to be realized because that’s just not in their wheelhouse. We buy stuff on capabilities a lot because we’ll say, well, this keyboard will make every sound that you’ll ever need, except for you have to have like a master’s degree in how to program this thing and there’s only like seven other people in the country that even use this one anymore because they bought the next year’s model or whatever. And so then the knowledge base kind of gets distributed and they just end up having all this stuff that has a lot of possibilities that nobody uses. So a basic setup, you’re going to have a pastor that’s you’re gonna want some sort of microphone. Usually, they want some sort of lapel, which is the microphone that either comes around to their face or clips onto their tie. You’re going to want a basic soundboard sound system.
Do you mind going to talk to us about some different models that you might recommend?
So for example, for the lapel, I mean, obviously churches can’t afford Countryman.
Oh, they do.
Yeah. Countryman’s the top dog, and that’s the pastor’s only expense. So that one’s for him, that tends to be the nicest microphone, the one that the pastor uses. Partly because they’re a major portion of the service and what they’re saying needs to be communicated clearly, but they’re also the ones that write the checks. So it all plays in. One thing for those that are buying Countryman, you need to figure out which impedance setting that they’re going to be giving you because they have one for soft talkers, medium talkers, and loud talkers, and most people don’t know that. But everywhere we go, we end up having to look and adjust for that. And they usually have some sort of wireless pack as well. So it will be a wireless transmitter that would go to a receiver. Again, those are usually the nicer ones that they would have. Some people like to have a handheld I prefer to preach with a handheld. Almost always, that’s gonna be your wireless microphone, a Shure, Sennheiser, or one of those models.
So then soundboards, right now, pretty much every church in America is buying the Behringer X32. And that’s just because it’s an amazing soundboard. And a lot of people have it, so there’s a lot of knowledge base. That’s going to run, and if you get the full one for one about $2,000, you can get some different versions that are smaller for around $1200. And then they actually have some that are made for small setups that I like a lot. They’re called the X Air series. And those can be as cheap as $200. And you actually run it from your iPad, so you just plug all of your connections straight into the back, and then all of the interfaces is via an iPad.
That might be good for a mobile situation, right?
That’s awesome. Okay, I didn’t know that. That’s great.
Not everybody’s super comfortable running it from an iPad, but it takes just a few moments to get used to, but you’re saving yourself hundreds and hundreds of hours of setup time. And that’s the thing about mobile churches every five minutes that you save in setting up or tearing down, compound that by 52 times a year for how many years you’re going to be doing it, and it starts taking off, sometimes literally years of your life. So getting that down to where it’s compact, you roll it in two or three segments, and you plug it in and go worth the cost of whatever those things would be. So back to a basic system, you’re going to want to have some sort of speaker system. If you’re a mobile church, you can get away with doing something. There are those Bose Towers that they make lots of different companies make them now. JBL makes a great one, where it’ll just be a singular tower that has like five or six different small speakers in it, and then that will usually be connected to a subwoofer.
And if you’re just playing like a piano and a vocal or a guitar and a vocal, you don’t need anything more than that. You don’t need the subwoofer or low in or to push really loud. If you’ve got a full band, you’re going to have to have quite a bit of power and support behind that. And so you’re going to want to invest in subwoofers. And the biggest thing on speakers is whether or not it has the amp built into it or not. And so powered versus passive speakers. If you’re buying a powered subwoofer, you can expect to spend like 1500 dollars or more per speaker, and even the passive ones can be $1000. And that’s a lot of energy. But live sound just takes a lot of energy to fill spaces. And the modern music style is to really put a lot of low end into a concert so it’ll be mostly kicked around mostly bass, and then vocals on top of that. Some people love that, and other people can’t stand it. And it always pains me when we walk into these churches that have this amazing sound system, and they have those $2,000 subwoofers, and I go back and check, and they’re unplugged.
Oh, my goodness.
Because somebody said to turn it down.
Ship them over here, would you? Send it to me. Okay, so you’ve got your microphones, your logs. If it’s a stand-up mic for somebody singing, is that something like maybe the SM58 or something like that or what? What’s your favorite mic?
Definitely the most standard microphone. Most churches don’t like having wired microphones because of how it looks. And it’s kind of a funny thing because they’ll use a wireless microphone that’ll be on top of a stand that will never move the entire service, but it’s wireless. So that always cracks me up whenever I see that. But we use Shure SM58. I mean, it just sounds amazing, and they’re bulletproof. Like you go online and watch videos, people dumping in water and shooting them with a gun and then like plugging them in and using them. It’s pretty amazing.
They’ve been around for a long time. I have some I use here that I don’t even know how long I’ve had those things. They just go with me when I go to conventions because they’re really good at recording very good sand in the middle of a noisy environment. So I love them.
Yeah, I have the same ones that I bought when I was a teenager. So yeah, they sound as good as the new ones. And we do a lot of product testing for Worship Leader Magazines. So I’ve seen quite a few different microphones. It’s pretty good. So some people also like the Betas 58, and those require some phantom power, which is the board. Soundboard actually provides some additional power back through the cabling, and it allows the high frequencies to come out a little bit more. Those two are probably 90% of most wired microphones, and then you get into your wireless Sennheiser, Shure, and AKG, microphones pop up pretty frequently. So then if you have a band, that’s where it gets even more complicated because then you got to have direct input for the piano or keyboard. Most everybody’s doing some sort of digital keyboard. I’m an old millennial or Gen Y kind of guy. So I’m like, bring back the regular acoustic piano. But not everybody agrees yet. So we’re still rocking the keyboard. One thing that’s changed a lot of keyboards, which is really interesting, is that everything’s going to a controller, which you actually use your laptop and a program called Mainstage.
It’s an Apple product but basically allows you to have all of your sounds generated from your computer, and then your keyboard is just like the keyboard that you would plug into a normal computer where it doesn’t actually do anything on its own unless you plug it in. And so I’m here in my studio, I’m sitting right in front of my M audio controller. And if you unplug it, there are no sounds, and there’s nothing like it doesn’t do anything. But once you plug it into the computer, it becomes like your piano. And so we can make it sound like an organ, you can make it sound like I mean, a synthesizer, anything that you can possibly imagine. And then you can actually buy those sounds people make sounds, my son and I make sounds that we sell for particular songs. So if you want to sound like Hillsong or you want to sound like Kari Jobe, or whoever it is that you like, somebody out there has made that exact sound, and you can buy it and load it on your computer, and away you go. So it’s pretty wild. It’s changing the industry pretty significantly because this controller in front of me would cost $150 where before, if you bought a keyboard that had a similar amount of sounds, you’d be in the $2,000-$3,000 range. It’s a big difference, but we like it because we’re technological like that.
So, the sound from the microphone is being sent to the controller?
It’s not even real. It’s all midi. So when you push a key, when I push middle C, it notes that it’s C3 and how hard you hit it, it’ll tell you a number between 0 and 125,127. And then the computer receives that and says, oh, he hit this key at this velocity, and he’s holding it for this long, and it goes into its computer database and pulls this sample of some real piano or some synthesizer sound and says, Oh, this is the sound that’s associated with this particular key. And if you play it this hard, then you pick this one. If you play softer, it picks a different one. So those sample libraries can be hundreds of dollars sometimes by themselves and can be as much as three to 500 gigs worth of information. So it’s a lot, but it gets some pretty amazing sounds.
Do you also advise people as to what cameras to use if they’re going to shoot video and how to set up their video?
We don’t do so much video. We’ve done a few web stuff. A lot of people are really trying to dive into the web things of how do you get your service online. How do you have multiple cameras set up? We use a program called OBS, which is an open-source program. We’ve had a lot of luck with that. Again, it’s free, so that makes it instantly excitable to a lot of people. It’s kind of one of the things that you pay for sometimes because it’s more user friendly or you have assistance from somebody where OBS has quite a bit of an online presence as far as this knowledge base of people making videos and things which have been helpful for us. And then I’m technological enough that I can kind of get that done. But a lot of churches are looking for a plug and play, again, they’re volunteers aren’t techie, they’re just somebody who’s willing to do it. And maybe they’ve been to c once in their life, or maybe they own the latest iPhone, and so then they’re like, okay, you’re gonna be the person to do this. So they’re just looking for like, I just want to come in, I want to turn it on, and I want it to work. And so there’s kind of a wide range in there if that’s about the extent that I go. Otherwise, I just start dropping contacts of people I know who are awesome in that area.
Well, I think that COVID has put obviously a lot of pressure on these communities to maintain a presence online, and a lot of them were kind of sideswiped by. They weren’t really ready.
No, nobody was ready. It’s been unbelievable because it’s a major change. A lot of churches, maybe they do live streaming or had something that you could go and connect with, but it was way in the background. It was an afterthought. Because so much is built on the Sunday experience of you go in, there’s parking, and there are parking attendants, most of the time you got greeters, a whole team of greeters that are there trained and ready to help you and find your location. So much is invested into the seats, and the air conditioning and how everything looks, and all of a sudden, all of that stripped away. And now they’re looking through one lens into your service on a computer that most people didn’t have. They’re just running maybe one camera in the back. And it’s just a different way to communicate because so much of that Sunday experience is the room. And I think for people who maybe don’t go to church maybe don’t quite grab how just being in a particular place, but it’d be like going to a concert, there are certain halls across the country that are famed for some reason. Like if you went to Red Rocks in Colorado and saw a show like every musician wants to play Red Rocks, it’s because it’s this fantastic venue, it’s like this fortress of Red Rock. If you’ve ever got a chance to even go up there, you’ll see 100 people working out and hanging out and guys like me who are getting on stage and singing couple notes so they can say they played Red Rocks before.
Okay, I’m gonna do that.
It’s definitely on my bucket list.
How far away is that driving from San Diego?
It will take a day or so. But yeah, like the Hollywood Bowl in LA. I mean, there’s just like certain places, Carnegie Hall would be another one, where like you walk in, and there’s like an aura to the place where you’re just like, this is amazing. Here in Nashville, it would be the Ryman. It’s a big deal. And so for going into the church and then all of a sudden whether or not you have stained glass or whether or not there’s a history there, and there is a collectiveness and energy. And as Christians, we believe that when we gather together, that the Lord is with us in a tangible way that he’s not as much when we’re not together. And it’s not that he’s not with us, it’s just a different kind of with us. And so when you take that away, and suddenly you’re not able to look around and see the stained glass window anymore, you can only see what the cameras pointed at. And if that camera is in the back or slightly out of focus, or the audio is not good. I mean, the whole audio experience is 99% of churches are not prepared to have broadcast audio. And so they’re just picking up a board mix of what was coming through the mains, well, now you’re not in the room, you can’t hear the acoustic sound of the drums or the acoustic sounds of people singing or whatever it would happen to be. And so nothing comes for free. And so you got to now, put microphones on these things, you got to do all this other stuff, and that’s just not the mode of so many churches.
So it’s been quite an interesting adjustment trying to help people in this season. And then a lot of people just don’t know, so then they’re trying to buy stuff and then trying to figure out even more than how to technologically connect with people. They’re trying to figure out how I connect through a different medium. So if you’re a film star, and all of a sudden you got to go to the radio or you got to go to photos only, how do you communicate in those different mediums? It’s just different. Before a pastor, you’re taught how to work the room and kind of look at different people going from left to right. If you get nervous, look above their heads. Well, now you’re preaching to a camera with a green dot on it or a red dot, that’s it. And it’s challenging. For some of the webinars we’ve done and other things, you can’t wait for the joke to land and hope that people laugh because you can’t hear them laughing. So you’re like, well, was it funny? Was it not funny? And it’s just very revealing and very stark. So it’s been interesting, we hosted several online conferences dealing with this exact topic for Worship Leader Magazine. And it’s not easy. The top professionals were there talking with us and saying, Man, we’re figuring this out day to day because things we thought were rock solid when we watch them on the camera we’re like, we need to work on this.
What do you love the most about what you do?
I love it when people get it. We walk away, and I can tell that, like they’re excited about what they’re doing, they’ve got the resources to be the next level of success. There’s nothing more satisfying to me. And so it’s an interesting place to be in, where it’s like, well, I could have maybe made more fans in that environment or sold more records or sold more whatever. But it’s so rewarding to see people be successful that it’s worth every penny and worth all the time.
Where are you going with all this technology? How do you think it’s gonna change in the next five years or so? Do you have a feeling about that?
I think it’s gonna go a couple of different ways. I think a lot of the technological stuff is going to progress pretty rapidly because everybody’s been forced to adapt to it. With all technology, you got to find who you are as people and as a group, and if you’re a down-home country church, you’re not going to suddenly jump into having this huge production and smoke and lights and fancy flashy styling. And that’s just not who you are. But I think, in general, people are going to be way more willing to use technology. Obviously, budgets are being allocated differently right now and being able to purchase some different things. And I think there’s going to be a group of people who are like, and we’re all figuring out how to work from home and how to work remotely. I don’t think everybody’s just going to go back to nine to five, driving in every day. I think that’s gonna change. And I think some people just aren’t going to come to church as much or maybe they found a digital home in another church. So that’s been interesting, but on the flip side of that, and what I’m kind of hoping will happen is that we’ve been isolated so long that we’re longing for humanity, longing for connection, I think will drive people to church and really what I’m hoping is that people are going to value that time and that connection. And so that our meetings won’t just be like you just show up, you walk in and watch, and when you leave, but that it will create more of a community and more of a desire, or at least an appreciation for what we would call the body of Christ or just being a family as believers and the church. So that’s what I’m hoping.
So where do we go for Worship Leader Magazine, where do we find Worship Leader Magazine?
Worshipleader.com. That is like the epicenter of it all. And so we’ve got two different levels of membership. The first one’s absolutely free and gets you access to the latest edition of the magazine. We’ve got thousands and thousands of articles that you can search for and find information from worship leaders all over the country. One thing that is interesting about our magazine is it’s contributor based. And so we’ve got industry people that contribute, we’ve got people who have 30-40 people in their congregation who contribute, and it’s literally all around the world that we’ll write in and just say, Hey, this is what’s working, or we’ll offer some advice about something else, and we don’t all agree. So one article will be pros on this, and the next article will be totally against it.
I love that. That’s good. That’s called discourse.
It’s definitely eye-opening sometimes. And then the next level of membership is Membership Plus, and that gives you access to all of our previous editions of the magazine. And then we’ve been doing these conferences and gatherings that have a video from some of the top worship leaders and really the planet, from all over the world. And you get to watch all of those. That’s a subscription, and it’s $10 a month, but well worth it. And you get to check it out. If you don’t like it, cancel it early. It’s been an amazing time of us coming together and just being the body and trying to help other worship leaders. And that’s really the heart of Worship Leader Magazine is, how can we help you do what you’re called to do?
Okay. That’s awesome. Well, we’re gonna go, we’re gonna check it out. This is wonderful. Thank you for everything you do. I think it’s really valuable, especially at this time when people are looking for a stronger connection. And I really do wish you good luck with it. And thank you for spending time with us today. So everybody, go to worshipleader.com, and check it out and let us know what you think. Steven Reed of Worship Leader Magazine, thanks for your time today.
Thanks for having me.
And you guys remember what I tell you every time, get up off your chairs and go do something wonderful today. This is Cirina Catania with OWC Radio. I’m signing out. Have a wonderful day. Bye
- Steven Reed
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- Behringer X32
- Bethel Church
- Bose Towers
- Carnegie Hall
- Elevation Church
- Hollywood Bowl
- Kari Jobe
- Red Rocks Amphitheatre
- Ryman Auditorium
- Shure SM58
- Be creative and resourceful. Have the ability to turn ideas, patterns, and thoughts into something meaningful and beautiful. Then share it with everybody.
- Promote altruism in your community even in the smallest of ways. Do things simply out of the desire to help, not because you’re obligated to.
- Spread the word. Share knowledge and light with anyone who intends to listen. Inspire others to do the same as well.
- Incorporate music for better rapport and camaraderie. Music provides a powerful effect to the human psyche. Whether it’s happiness, sadness, anger, or grief, music tends to help people go through with their emotions.
- Encourage young people to dream and aspire to have a better, more meaningful life. They are the future therefore it’s your duty as adults to guide and inspire them.
- Donate and support local charities and churches. Some of these congregations get by with so little, and any type of help will go a long way.
- Foster a culture of responsibility and practice the act of stewardship within your community.
- Look out for each other and always have everyone’s best interests in mind. Make sure important decisions are made collectively.
- Utilize technology to help spread the message. Stay up to date with the new generation so they can more easily understand the mission.
- Check out Steven Reed’s website and his magazine, Worship Leader Magazine for more information about his writing and mission.