About the Blog

The FILO Blog is where it all started (and where the name FILO was first used). Todd writes down observations of production in the local church, mostly as a way to process his own thoughts for his own benefit. He figured if this processing helps other people, then great! FILO Blog (and FILO Podcast) is a way to process new ideas of how we can best contribute in the area of church production to our local churches.

production generosity

I’ve been working my way through the New Testament and came across a verse that I had highlighted on an earlier reading: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” – 2 Cor. 9:6 I’m sure I’ve read this verse countless times, and each time I’ve viewed it…

martin luther and the perfect mix

The cobbler praises God every time he makes a decent pair of shoes. I read this quote a few weeks ago. It is attributed to Martin Luther…you know, the guy who helped kickstart the reformation. Using the interwebs, I went looking to see if he actually said this, and I only found anecdotal evidence. Instead…

help me understand…

I have been struck again this week by the fact that the world of church production is a mystery to non-production people. This isn’t a bad thing or something to try to solve. Andy Stanley would say “it is a tension to be managed” (he would actually say it twice for emphasis, but I’ll just…

puffy paint and scrappiness

One of the final items that I discovered on a big closet re-org project recently was this shirt. Just as the production swag items in your closet can probably relate, it’s a t-shirt I’ve had in my collection for a really long time. About 13 years. This one stuck out to me as I purged….

“what can God do?” vs. “what God can do.”

Probably my favorite part about my Facebook feed is the Memories feature. Especially with kids, it is amazing to see how things have changed over the years. Am I really getting that old? Today, this was my memory: 4 years ago on this day, it was my last day as a staff member at Willow Creek…

what can I learn from this person?

  I should probably just do a blog post from each of the episodes of Netflix’s show Abstract. It is so good. If you haven’t watched it yet, I can’t recommend it any higher, especially if you’re a technical artist in the local church. There is so much great content from all the artists featured….

pixel mapping with LED tape

Earlier this month, we asked the FILO community on Instagram what questions they had for us. One of our followers wrote back: “Need info on the simple way to pixel map with 5050 LED tape. RGBW. Controllers, software, etc.” We headed straight to an expert for an answer. Check out what Willow Creek’s Lighting Engineer,…

what can i make next?

I’ve been watching the documentary “Abstract”. It follows the lives and careers of artists from very different fields…an architect, a photographer, a set designer, even the Air Jordan shoe designer. As a technical artist, it has been so great to watch and learn from other types of artists, so as someone who loves a good…

money isn’t everything

I love to read. And I love reading non-fiction. History. Biographies. You know, all the stuff your dad reads and you think he’s weird…those books. I’m that guy. Recently I read a dual biography of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, the partnership that created some of the most popular musicals in the middle of the…

building production teams the ritz carlton way

I had the pleasure of working an event that Horst Schultz was one of the main speakers. Not only is he a wonderful individual, but he has built a few successful businesses in his lifetime. Most specifically The Ritz Carlton Hotel chain. He was giving a talk about how to create a great service organization,…

trickle charge

Over the Christmas break, my daughter was home from college. It was amazing to have her back in the house. While she was home, she was driving one of our vehicles that doesn’t heat up very well. Because of that, I bought a heated pad that sits between the driver and the actual seat. The…

church production and the foo fighters

I was looking for something to watch on Netflix the other day and landed on a documentary about Foo Fighters.  I didn’t know much about the band, except that Dave Grohl used to be the drummer in Nirvana and that Foo Fighters were one of the only real hard rock bands still out there. The documentary…

christmas rehearsals and jesus’ mom

It’s Christmas time! Rehearsals. Christmas parties. Rehearsals. Christmas shopping. Rehearsals. Baking cookies. Did I mention rehearsals? Initially when starting to write an email to the FILO tribe, I wanted to suggest that you should sign up for FILO2018 using your leftover budget money from 2017…that is if you haven’t already spent it on those extra…

never say no (don’t say yes either)

As tech people, we are often asked to do crazy stuff by our creative counterparts. As crazy as these ideas might seem, the balance between creative ideas and technical realities is the name of the game. We are the executers of ideas. They imagine ideas that need to be executed. Without each other, nothing happens….

good enough

In the world of church production, the phrase “Good Enough” is used far too often, and even typing it, it is sending chills up my spine. There are some people that say it out of ignorance of what it really takes to make things happen. They will generally never stop saying it. Then there are…

bringing hope through technology

I met with a couple of technical artists the other day, to talk about their worship space and figure out ways we could make it better. Even though they had a long way to go, they were doing the best they could with what they had. It was excellent. For the most part, this was…

reverend TD

“I’m always surprised how pastoral being a church TD is!” This is a text I got from one of my friends who is a technical artist in the local church. It couldn’t be more true…in two ways: That being a TD is pastoral and how surprised we are by it. For many of us, we…

making time for the future

There is so much work to do! Who’s with me? New ideas from creative types tend to get in the way of all the work already on my giant list of “To do’s”! Things keep breaking, which means the list keeps getting longer all by itself. When the pile of work that needs to get…

what limits tomorrow?

History Nerd alert! I just finished watching “The Roosevelts” on Netflix. It is the story of the Roosevelt family, told through the lives of Theodore, Franklin and Mrs. Roosevelt, whose maiden name was Roosevelt, by the way. They were fifth cousins, so no big deal. It was a fascinating story, but the thing that stood out…

you can handle it!

There are times when I get annoyed by people complaining about how early call time is. Or how late a rehearsal goes. Not to feed into too much of a stereotype, but most of the people I’m thinking about aren’t tech people. For me, getting there in enough time to make sure everything is ready…

pre-flight check

I was getting for a flight to Germany recently, and I happen to be sitting in the airport right next to the plane I was about to get on. While I was sitting there, I noticed the pilot walking around, checking various systems around the plane. As a passenger on that plane, it made me…

when there’s no light at the end of the tunnel

I’m working with some great people right now that are some of the hardest working people I know. Super responsible. Striving for excellence in every area. Kicking butt and taking names. Unfortunately, they are all overworked. System upgrades, routine maintenance, volunteer recruiting, set changes…the list could go on forever. And it tends to. There is…

choice and discipline

Having worked at Willow Creek for over 10 years, I would often talk to people who were visiting from other churches.As I was giving people tours of the production spaces, I would often get comments about how “easy” it must be to do production at Willow, since we had everything we could ever want. While…

it never hurts to ask

My wife used to work for a guy who would always ask the question “What can you do for me?” The context was generally in a situation where he was paying for a service…a rental car, hotel room, plane ticket, you get the idea. It would usually make me uncomfortable when he would do it,…

more than troubleshooting

The other day, I had to put my troubleshooting skills to the test. I have to say that it is one of my favorite parts about being involved in production. Having a problem and needing to solve it. I don’t know that I love the pressure of a service about to start while I’m trying to…

leadership and the battle of waterloo

I’m pretty sure you’ve figured out by now that I love history. I can’t get enough of it! There are so many lessons from the events of the past that can be learned from and I like thinking about ways to apply these lessons to my own situation. I just finished reading an account of…

what might go wrong

I just had a conversation with my friend and fellow technical artist Joy about an event coming up that we are both working on. She asked me what I was looking forward to most about it. My first thought was all the things that I’m worried could go wrong. How unfortunate, but how true. Anytime…

there will be pain

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Job 5:7           “As the sparks fly upward, man is born to trouble.” Now that I see it in writing, it seems kind of depressing; my favorite verse is about how inevitable trouble is. I like to think of it as being realistic….

the weekend after christmas

The worst. Right? You’ve just given everything you have to the giant production called Christmas Eve services, and now it’s the weekend again. Give me a break!As I was reflecting on this familiar feeling, it dawned on me that church production people everywhere are in the same boat here. Maybe your church canceled Saturday services,…

you frustrate me, and that’s ok

I had the privilege to speak at the Tech Arts Conferenz in Karlsruhe Germany. There were about 600 creative and technical artists gathered together to learn from each other and to be inspired to keep doing ministry at our local churches. As I was standing up on the stage having each word I was speaking…

will you join the barricade?

For some reason, I’ve been thinking about the barricade scene from Les Misérables. You know, when the guy climbs to the top of the pile of crap and waves a giant flag. Part of me is thinking, “Are you crazy?! You’re going to get shot!”. The other part of me feels like I wish I…

a city planners guide to church

I live in Chicago. OK, if you’re from Chicago, I basically live in Iowa, but if you aren’t from here, I live in Chicago. One of the things I love about this city is the architecture and it’s history. The home of the first skyscraper. Frank Lloyd Wright. The International School and Mies van der Rohe. One of the central…

church production lessons from the wright brothers

I just finished reading “The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough. What a great story of hard work and perseverance.Also of what can be accomplished regardless of the resources at your disposal. At a certain point in the book, Mr. McCullough notes that at the same time the Wright Brothers were solving the challenges of flight,…

what people are saying about @FILOconference

We’ve had some really great times at FILOchicago and FILOdallas, and we’re looking forward to more of the same at FILOatlanta and FILOdenver! If you are wondering if FILO is worth the investment, check out what people have been saying about FILO. “Breakout sessions were interesting and relevant. I wish I could have attended more of…

what 1934 says about the future

Growing up, music was part of my family heritage. As a little kid, it seem like everyone was heavily into playing some instrument, usually really well. There was a piano in everyone’s house, and with that piano was an expectation that you would learn to play it. Today I have a piano in my house. And not just…

being invisible vs. feeling invisible

As technical artists in the local church, if we are doing our jobs properly, what we do is invisible. It should go unseen.  The technical arts should be so seamlessly integrated with the creative arts that nobody can tell where one begins and the other ends. Invisible is what we do. What we do is…

the last 2%? how about the last 20%!

When I was at Willow Creek and even before that at Kensington, we talked a lot about “the last 2%”. That part of any project when you just want to walk away, but if you stick to it, it will make whatever you’re trying to accomplish even better. This goes along with the idea of excellence honoring…

partners in ministry

I’ve been married 22 years today. I can’t even believe that so much time has gone by. On my wedding day 22 years ago, I had been working at my first full time job out of college for about 9 months. It had been quite a roller coaster. I loved what I got to do. As…

the next big thing

Many months ago, I was feeling like God was calling me to the next thing. The only problem for me was that I had no idea what that “next thing” was. I’m excited to announce the beginnings of that next thing. Remember Gurus of Tech? After attending an amazing event in Louisville, KY back in…

Tech Teams vs. the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

As an engineering student, we were all required to take the class Thermodynamics. By itself, this is a tough subject matter, but the professor we all had was a cross between a fire and brimstone style preacher, and a drill sergeant. While he made the course fairly entertaining, it was even more intense than just…