Everything Went Sideways

I walked into the church at 7:03 to start our only rehearsal for the 10:00 AM service - the coffee in my hand being the reason for my three-minute tardiness.

We walked up on stage and noticed that every single input and output had been unplugged.

There had been another group that rented our church for a concert the night before. The pastor had assured us that “they would put everything back and all we’d have to do is switch the system on.”

“Well, it’s not that big of a deal to plug everything in again,” we thought. And then we noticed the drums.

One of the toms had been removed and was sitting on the floor. Duct tape had been used to dampen several of the drum heads. The mic clips had all been removed, and the drum mics were missing.

After a search in the back room, we found all but the two overhead mics. I began helping the drummer put the set back together and placing each of the six mics while the rest of the team went about plugging everything back in.

The crew from the night before had also left trash and scratches on the floor of the stage. We felt a little slighted.

I walked to the back of the auditorium to begin line-checking everything. (I’m not the sound guy, but I am more familiar with the system than the rest of the folks are.)

I fired up the X32, and that’s when things got really interesting.

It turns out that the hired engineer for the concert had executed a complete system reset on our mixer, and every single gain stage, EQ, routing, label…every single setting had been changed.

It was like we had swapped mixers with another church. We felt violated, like someone had broken into our home and stolen from us.

As my favorite kid’s book character, Junie B. Jones, says, “my face got all hot, and I did a mad breath.”

I was so flustered, I couldn’t even figure out how to assign each channel to our monitors.

(Translation: our monitors were HORRIBLE, we couldn’t hear the click for the three tracks we were using, and hence couldn’t play together.)

So I MacGyvered a bit more to get a passable monitor setup.

We usually rehearse from 7:00 to 8:30, then walk to the neighborhood bakery to buy whatever is needed to accompany our breakfast of Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) - like baguette bread, cheese, natilla (sour cream), pâté, coffee, and orange juice. We share a leisurely breakfast and then start the first song at 9:55.

But THIS morning, we played through some of the songs one time and stopped our two-hour-forty-five-minute frenzied, heroic system reset/rehearsal at 9:45.

We were so out of our heads that the electric player started the song in a different key (which we eventually found and followed since the worship leader had already begun singing.)

It felt like we weren’t even present.

To add insult to injury, several of us were talking with the pastor after the service, sharing how this had been the most challenging and heart-wrenching morning we’d ever experienced. And he said, “It happens. Let’s learn from it and move on.” Oof.

Why do I tell you this story?

I have a rule. And I violated it on Sunday.

The rule is this: if something goes seriously sideways, happens unexpectedly, stops me dead in my tracks, or fails miserably, I take it as a cue—a cue to stop and ask the LORD what He’s saying.

It’s like, “God, you have my attention. What do I need to know?”

It’s a throwback to The Matrix movie. The character named Trinity says, “A déjà vu is usually a glitch in the Matrix. It happens when they change something.”

So when something changes, I stop and ask God what He’s saying.

What might have happened if we would’ve stopped and prayed, “LORD, what are You saying to us? Should we soldier on and heroically attempt to do what we had planned? Should we do an acoustic set with just voices and guitar? Should we do something else?”

After the service, I felt like we had just “done the usual Sunday thing” and hadn’t faithfully led the congregation into what God was doing. We just didn’t have the capacity after all that crazy triage. But we could’ve if we would’ve stopped to ask the LORD.

So next time everything goes sideways, someone doesn’t show up, something breaks, you receive something unexpected, stop and ask, “LORD, what do I need to know right now?”


Ps. This afternoon, I’ll go to the church and do my best to reset everything, and then yes, I will save the scene onto a thumb drive. Not doing that before was just stupid.

Pps. Why don’t I say, “everything went south?” Because what’s wrong with the south? Right, y’all? Pecan Pie, BBQ, brewed sweet tea, biscuits and gravy, hospitality, lovely drawls...and where else is the name Ken a two-syllable word? :)