Reach out to connect with me. I would love to support you and your community.
For over two decades I have worked with churches, twelve years as pastoral staff. During this time, I have seen how our understanding of the role of "leader" directly impacts our ability to promote healthy engagement and growth in the community.
As leaders, we can be like builders — shaping the organization of the church to match a preconceived image. Or, we can be like gardeners — tending to the organism of the Church, helping each individual person to grow in their own unique way, watching with anticipation to see what will emerge.
There is so much potential in the latter. It is not only deeply nourishing for the Church... it is deeply nourishing for you, the leader, as well.
I coach pastors, leaders, and worship ministry staff in exploring this potential.
"As a Worship Director, I was lost and wondering what my purpose was. Nathan helped me to focus on the key areas of my job, and to stop putting my energies in places that were unnecessary. I can't recommend him enough. He has a unique skill set that meets the needs of the entire worship team and its leadership."
—Alison Meuth, Worship and Arts Director, United Presbyterian Church, Illinois
This workshop supports singers in finding a tangible and lasting connection between singing and worship.
We explore our voice on a physiological level — inspiration, breath, resonance — and how this connects to the act of worship in much more than only a metaphorical way.
We practice finding and releasing our true voice, allowing each breath and each note to become an invitation for the Spirit to travel deeper within us, to share these depths of our true self with the community, and in so doing to lead our community into this deeply nutritive and healing receiving and releasing as well.
This workshop is focused on combining fundamentals of playing music together — listening, self-mixing, balancing sound and space — with the experience of worship.
This workshop gives practical tools for volunteer and professional audio engineers to create a clear, consistent, quality, non-frustrating audio experience for their church community which not only sounds great but supports a stronger musical connection between the musicians and the congregation.
We explore the foundational principles of audio engineering, following the signal from the source — the musician's intent to make a sound — through the entire audio system, including every wire, fader, and speaker, the room with its particular acoustic properties, and finally to the ears of the people in the room. We sort through which of these variables are worth our time and which are not, ways to "set and forget" certain parameters, and finally how to "set the table" for the musicians in a way that is consistent from week to week and which eliminates most of the guess-work for inexperienced audio volunteers.
Often we will come back to a core principle: audio technology can serve music and worship, without drawing attention to itself, by supporting connection between people through the vibration we call sound.
This workshop gives music directors tools for fostering a thriving community of artists in a way which places the responsibility of the worship ministry on the shoulders of the community, not only on paid staff.
We talk in practical terms about many common issues for worship directors such as coordinating with senior pastors / executive leadership, handling complaints from the congregation, communicating with audio production staff/volunteers, configuring stage monitoring which supports listening, togetherness and musicianship, and how to foster a thriving artistic community rather vs managing a music program.
"Our worship team had lost its focus and vision. We were simply showing up and trying to get through each service. Nathan helped us with the technical struggles we were having as well as the spiritual. We came away from our time with him feeling bonded as a group and centered once again".
Audio production is one of the largest sources of frustration for modern churches today, yet it is typically given a minimal amount of care.
The issue is tricky: Our culture is accustomed to hearing music which is performed and mixed by the greatest professional musicians and audio engineers in the world. But very few people are aware of the amount of training and expertise involved to make music sound professional... or even passable! Consequently, there is rarely a sufficient budget allocated for decent equipment, and it is commonly accepted that any volunteer will do when it comes to running this equipment. This is a losing battle. And when we consider the amount of time and energy spent by the worship staff and musicians to play music, it is a sad reality that all of that work can be wasted by one person standing in the back of the room.
In every other live-music situation, the person running audio is a paid professional; the musicians are paid professionals. In most church scenarios, no one is paid or professional, yet the underlying expectation is for professional sounding music.
This scenario leads to a lot of frustration.
The Church is seemingly left with two possible solutions: either hire professionals (and push out the volunteers), or put up with "bad sound." But there is a third option — a much better one in my opinion...
I teach a simple method for approaching audio in church settings which allows volunteers to create great sounding mixes in a way which is reproducible and consistent from week to week.
I call this method "setting the table."The key is with the musicians. Musicians do not need to be taught what sounds good. And while they may not know how to operate a sound board, they instinctively know how to change their volume and tone to "mix" with other musicians.
There are certain tasks an audio engineer can carry out which will put the musicians and the sound system in a great position for creating beautiful, clear music while also addressing the common monitoring complaints from the musicians on stage. The result is a sound setup which not only sounds great to the congregation, but also sounds great to the musicians on stage, while creating a more unifying audio experience for everyone in the room.
"Setting the table" is easy to learn in a very short amount of time and embraces the reality of constantly changing volunteer audio engineers.
I sit down with leadership to help sort through audio production issues and questions, clarify equipment and staffing decisions, and reframe successful audio in their church context. Almost every consultation I've done has led to fewer purchases of gear. It is so common for churches to believe that a gear purchase will make things better, when the reality is that a mindset change, and a little bit of training, will do more for them than all of the new gear in the world.
The church, like much of the world today, is in a state of transition.
This transition, while uncomfortable and disconcerting, is a meaningful indicator of growth.
In light of the pandemic and the challenging state we find ourselves in today, I lead an exploration of rest — through speaking, meditation, and music — to help church communities slow down, feel more present and deeply connected with themselves and each other, and begin to sense on a tangible level how God's Current is leading us into deeper waters.
Songs may include: Rest in You, Marathon, Masks
Nathan helped us slow down, breathe, and see how breath itself is a connection with God. —volunteer workshop attendee