Production System at Saddleback Berlin ⛪️

3 min read
Photo by Greg Ortega on Unsplash

The picture above is from our mother church in California. This is how we celebrate our Easter services in California. Sometimes we still have snow here in Berlin, so we prefer to stay in the building. 😉

What is Saddleback?

Saddleback is a church in many locations. On the one hand we share many similarities worldwide and on the other hand we respond to our regional needs.

Our teaching pastors are Rick Warren, Tom Holladay and Buddy Owens. Each campus is led by a campus pastor, who is usually supported by a team of staff and volunteer leaders. Dave Schnitter started our campus in Berlin and still leads it as our Campus Pastor.

Our special challenges as Saddleback Berlin

Saddleback Berlin celebrated its first worship service in October 2013. We have been renting party and event locations since the beginning. At the moment we are in the Kalkscheune in Berlin-Mitte.

This means that every Sunday we set up all of our equipment, then rehearse once, check the sound and celebrate two services. Afterwards we tear everything down and store it in a storage room provided by the venue.

We must constantly balance between the different requirements.

Finding balance

  • We want to maximize the time for the rehearsal of musicians and the sound check.
  • We want to let our volunteers sleep as long as possible.
  • We want to take as little time as possible from our volunteers.
  • We want to rent the venues as short a time as possible.
  • We want to conduct our services at meaningful times and all guests should have the opportunity to participate in the service.
  • We want the audience to experience as little sound check and rehearsal as possible.
  • As a consequence, we want to spend as little time as possible on the setup.

Our conclusions and the reason for this series

As a consequence of the above challenges, we have made the following decisions:

  • We start at 8am with the setup of stage and technical equipment.
  • We optimize the technical equipment so that we can empty the storage room and set up the stage and technical equipment within 45 minutes.
  • We can then rehearse and check the sound for 90 minutes.
  • Our services start at 10am and 12 noon and last about 90 minutes.
  • We slowly start the teardown at 2pm and leave the event rooms at 3pm.

At first glance, it looks like we are asking a lot of our volunteers and that is difficult to refute. I have been responsible for production in many churches over the past decades. However, I have never experienced such incredible encouragement between the volunteers.

This results in us delivering a high-quality performance. I have never had so much fun in this role and I firmly believe that the whole team does.

Almost every Sunday I myself — a volunteer like many of the others — spend seven hours in our church. We don’t expect that from any volunteer, and I just want to be there because it gives me a lot of energy.

I studied sound engineering a few decades ago and never before has my knowledge and experience been so challenged as with Saddleback. I have never experienced such a dedicated and enthusiastic team before. This motivates me and many of the other volunteers.

Every Sunday Saddleback Berlin has about 350 worshipers (including children) divided into two worship services.

How is the production system organized at Saddleback Berlin?

We have set up our production system in such a way that we have achieved a good balance between the time available and the optimal use of this time.

The production system is divided into the following elements:

  • Sound Board
  • Presentation computer and video system
  • Translation system
  • Stage
  • Software systems

In the coming weeks we want to explain the individual elements in more detail. We hope that many churches can learn from them — small and large, mobile churches like us, but also churches that celebrate services in their own spaces.

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