As I sit here writing this I am keeping one eye on the window, watching for the anticipated snowfall that is threatening to shutdown Salem later today. I am a little anxious because I am scheduled to perform tonight in Silverton, OR. There is a very good chance the performance will cancel.
As I reflect on that thought, I am realizing that there have not been many cancelations in my 42 years of ministry. A few caused by weather, a few caused by family/medical emergences. But all in all, it is a rare event. In fact I think I could probably count the cancelations on two hands. (I estimate that we have given about 5,000 performances during that time—that is about .2%!) I count that is one of God’s blessings on this ministry. And we’re still going strong and busy as ever!
- Performances— Over 100 performances by our artists again this year.
- Ministry growth— In addition to my performances, my associates, Steve Wilent and Marcia Whitehead have been keeping busy. Just this month we are adding a new artist to our roster. Wes Whatley lives on the East Coast and will be great addition to our team.
- Child Sponsorship— One of the biggest blessings of this ministry is that we also get to advocate on behalf of the poor through our partnership with Food for the Hungry. This year about 400 more sponsors were added and over the life of our ministry over 6,000 sponsors have been joined us in tacking poverty around the world.
We fully realize that it is the prayer and financial support of people like you that make this work possible. We so appreciate your partnership in the work that we do. As you look forward to 2017, we would be so very honored if you would help us keep the story going by giving a gift to Master’s Image Productions. We would be especially grateful if you could support us on a regular basis with a monthly pledge (if you are already doing that, thank you!). You can also designate your gifts for the benefit of a specific artist if you like.
May God bless you and yours this Christmas and in 2017!
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Posted by Chuck Neighbors
In a recent conversation with a pastor about performing at his church, he was concerned about having too small a stage for the presentation. If you were staging a Broadway show, that would be a legitimate concern… but for a one-man show…. not so much. Especially a one-man show that was designed as a touring performance TO churches.
My acting career is full of performances in spaces that are less than ideal. While I do occasionally get to perform on a real stage in a real theater with real theater lights, etc….that is the exception not the rule. In addition to church sanctuaries of all shapes and sizes, I have performed in gymnasiums, college lunch rooms, street corners, a baseball field, airplane hangars, and even on board a submarine.
You learn that theater can happen anywhere there is an audience, and a little imagination can go a long way. On one tour sponsored by the military we would go wherever the soldiers were in their everyday routines taking the show to them, sometimes doing up to 16 mini-shows a day. Imagine performing in a field with with 50 soldiers in full camouflage and rifles in their laps with a Jeep as your “backstage.” I did that! (Something about performing before a gun-toting audience makes you want to do a really good job!)
Often the leadership at a church will want to know what can be done to make the platform ready for my performances. Usually this is asked with a hopeful tone of “please don’t make us move too much stuff.” While I am very flexible and accommodating to any and every situation, here are some things to consider to make for a better experience on a church stage, for any guest, be it a speaker, musician, or even an actor!
- Look at your stage as if it were a piece of art–a painting perhaps. Anything that would take away from presenting a pleasing picture to the audience is a candidate for removal. When I perform In His Steps, a period piece set in the early 1900s, the set is a pastor’s office. Having an electronic drum kit in the office detracts from the setting and mood of the piece.
- While logistics and space may limit what can be moved, consider ways to at least tidy up the space. Microphone and music stands can be removed. Some portable screens could be used to hide drums, keyboards, etc.
- If you have theatrical lighting, consider moving things out of the pool of light so that they are less visible and creating, with light, the space for the performance.
- Take a moment to consider time and priorities for the service. If your guest is going to be on the platform for 45 minutes and your musicians for only 10 minutes, consider “downsizing” the music for that service. Go acoustic with fewer musicians, so that less is required on the platform, making it an easier, cleaner transition to the “main thing” of the service.
- Also under priorities, give ample pre-service time and attention to the guest’s stage, sound, and lighting needs. I typically arrive at a church an hour before a service to set up and do tech rehearsal–for me that is plenty of time. However, no one has told the worship team this and they expect to use the stage for their warm-up and rehearsal at the exact same time. They often eat up so much of the pre-service time for their 10 minutes on stage and leave me feeling rushed and unprepared for my 45 minute presentation.
- Assign a person to the guest to see to all their needs. Have them assist in set up, packing and unpacking, making sure there is good communication amongst the personnel of the service (tech, musicians, pastor, etc). Provide bottled water and a private room or space for the guest to prepare and pray before the service… it’s the little things that can mean so much.
I am sure there are other things I could add to the list. But I do know attention to these details does make a difference to both guest and audience and will create a better experience for all… whether on a real stage or in a submarine!
Do you have any tips for churches to consider when hosting a guest speaker/artist?
What unique and memorable performance venues have you experienced?
Posted by Chuck Neighbors