College of Christian Studies
Timing was right for AU graduate to enter media ministry
It’s easy to take for granted how technology plays a role in the worship experience. As Media and Communications Director at Concord Baptist Church, Anderson University graduate Adam Gibbs manages the technology that supports Christian ministry. He’s been interested in audiovisual technology since high school and feels blessed to be able to use the skills he enjoys to further Concord Baptist’s ministry. The Anderson University College of Christian Studies offers a concentration in Media Ministry in its BA program.
Where are you from originally, Adam?
I was born and raised in Upstate New York. However, we've been in Charlotte for the last 13 years, up until I moved to Anderson this past summer. We moved to Mooresville in 2010. My wife and I moved from Belmont.
Did you meet your wife at Anderson University?
Yes. She was roommates with another RA, so we knew each other a little bit, but then didn't start dating until Fall 2019. We started officially dating right before winter break, went home for three or four weeks, came back on campus for two months, and then got sent home because of COVID. So it kind of jumped into a long distance relationship.
Were you an RA as well? Did you do similar sorts of things as a student at Anderson?
I was an RA my junior year, and then I was in SRA senior year.
How did you find Anderson University?
Originally I was planning on going to (another university). In spring of my senior year, it was the encouragement from my father, “Hey, don't only look at one university, but look at a couple of different options.” Anderson was the only other school that I actually visited and toured, and when I came down on campus I guess it was March. I fell in love with the community, fell in love with the people down here, fell in love with the atmosphere, applied, and then got accepted within two weeks, and I was told that I got one of the last beds on campus. Whether or not that's true in April, probably not; however, that's at least what they told me at the time.
What are some of your favorite college memories?
My favorite college memories typically revolved around being with friends until late at night. Playing ping-pong until 3 a.m., intramural volleyball, ultimate frisbee and going golfing were frequent memories. I also loved having Saturdays on campus to hang out, support our AU Trojans attending athletic events and take a break from my academics and on-campus jobs.
I had four jobs on campus all at one time. It kept me pretty busy; however, I loved what I did, and that kind of tees up how I became a media director and I have a passion for that.
How did you become interested in media ministry?
I think it was in eighth grade, I got asked to join the media team at my church, and that was just to start running ProPresenter on Sunday mornings just here and there, and as time went on, I learned more and more about behind the scenes production for running sound in particular, but also running lights and ProPresenter in church production.
I continued to grow in those skills and abilities throughout high school. And when I got to Anderson's campus, within the first week I had already applied for and gotten a job working for student activities as well as campus worship, so it was something that I was seeking out. It's something that I love doing, and if I can get paid for it, so much the better.
Originally, when you were coming to Anderson, what were you considering doing as a calling or career?
In my junior year of high school, my dad encouraged me to make a decision for what I wanted to do as a career, so that we could search for appropriate colleges based on what I wanted to do.
At that time, what I thought was the ideal job was working for a church doing media full time. However, way back then, especially in high school, a church that was reasonably sized was not necessarily large enough to have someone full time on staff doing media. My dreams were shot because thought I could never achieve it, and the likelihood of me being able to work full time for a church doing media was highly unlikely unless I went to a megachurch and that just wasn't exactly where I had my eyes set upon.
I felt the calling towards ministry in some capacity, and I didn't really know what that capacity was going to end up looking like. So I entered AU majoring in Christian ministry and a minor in business. I thought that if I'm going to work for a church, let me have a well rounded degree with a little bit of business experience, because I can teach, but am I gifted or do I love teaching and preaching? Not exactly. I love the behind the scenes and the operation side of things, so I guess freshman and sophomore year summers I interned for my church back home as a youth ministry intern and was just continually gaining experience in ministry. I love working at a job where I can also be passionate about what I'm doing. As time went on, being able to work at AU doing AV, but then also going home working in ministry at my home church, I continued to grow into the longing of being in ministry full time.
One thing kind of changed that was junior year. I had an internship over the course of the summer working for Lowe's Home Improvement for their corporate office in Mooresville. It was a really neat opportunity to do AV in the corporate and business side of things, and opened up my eyes completely to how ministry can exist outside the walls of the church. That's where the daily aspect of walking and talking alongside people happens.
That internship was humbling from a ministerial and technological perspective. I worked on a team of 12, and two of my mentors were bi-vocational pastors. It was because of this team that my eyes were opened into examining what a career path in corporate AV looks like while still being able to serve the local church, too.
Going into senior year, I thought I had a job lined up working for Lowe’s. I love the team, the atmosphere and, going into summer of 2020, I had another internship through them. Since I was an August graduate they wouldn't hire me until I had fully graduated, which makes sense. However, with it being an internship in 2020, they canceled it to being a remote internship; and then, at the end of the 10 weeks they ended up not giving me a position, which makes sense if you're going to have 5,000 employees and not one of them is on the campus, then you probably don't need a bunch of AV support on campus.
It all worked out well, though, because at the end of the summer of 2020 I was able to come on staff at my home church part time, just to help oversee the installation of the live stream system.
Then, in January of 2021 I was able to come alongside of them in a full time capacity, which again to go from “high school Adam” thinking this is just a dream that I'll never be able to do out my home church to “now graduated Adam,” I was able to do the dream job working at my home church. It was neat to see how all that came together.
So I say all that to say it's a ministry calling into kind of a career that I honestly thought I would never be able to achieve, because I didn't think I was good enough to reach those levels of technical ability.
COVID was really a watershed moment where a lot of small churches had to learn how to stream their services, wasn’t it?
It was funny, the timing of it. In spring break of 2020 I was teed up to intern at Lowe’s over the summer and really had a job lined up at that point in time.
And also I had a couple of other churches that had reached out to me… And that week of spring break I met with the worship pastor of my home church and he said, “Hey, Adam, I’ve got really exciting news. We're going to have a part time position for production coming up this fall.”
Leaving that meeting I kind of pushed him off.
“I really appreciate that, Jeff; however, I'm not really in the market for a part time position. I've already got a couple of full time offers out there.” And that following Sunday was when everything shut down and everything kind of changed. It was just crazy how the timing of that one small meeting of me saying “I'm not going to work for y'all” ultimately turned into being able to come into a full time position with them.
So I understand that you are now at Concord Baptist?
When my wife and I were living in Belmont… She is a Teaching Fellow, so she had to pay back her scholarship through four years of service at a South Carolina School. Me working for a church in Mooresville, being in the Charlotte area, we intentionally lived in Belmont. That way I could commute north and she could commute south. While that worked great for a season, we knew it could only work for a season. I was commuting on average between 45 minutes in the morning, and similarly she was driving about 40 minutes as well every day to and from, in the opposite direction. I absolutely loved my home church, and didn't necessarily want to leave, but it's also hard to be connected to a church that you live an hour to an hour and a half away. When the position came open at Concord, it was an ability for my wife to come back home, because this was her home church, and her whole family's still in Anderson; but also an ability for my wife and I to be better connected to the church that I'm working at, which is a whole lot more important and worthy of making that change and to come down here.
So it wasn't necessarily an easy decision that kind of happened at the snap of a finger, but when we could take a step back and evaluate… in the priority order of work, church and life and marriage. Our relationship to a church and our marriage needs to be a higher priority than just my work relationship with whatever church I’m working at.
Where does your wife teach?
She's a sixth grade math teacher at McCants Middle school. She was teaching fifth grade for two years in Fort Mill and then she came back down and now is teaching Middle school down here, which she absolutely loves. We went from having a 45 to an hour commute down to each of us having a five minute commute to work.
Concord is a pretty sizable church, isn’t it?
Yep, we're running probably anywhere between 800-900 people on a given Sunday. That is Sunday morning. Then, we also have Sunday evening services and Wednesday night activities, too.
What is your typical day like, if there is any such thing as a typical day?
Definitely no such thing as a typical day. It kind of adapts to the needs of the ministries. My predominant role is to support the other ministries of the church through media technology. So whether that looks like running sound one event, or setting up a web page and creating a bunch of social media posts another day, it's truly flexible for whatever the needs of the church are going to be during that week and during that day. It's constant communication with the other ministry leaders. I'm responsible for all of production and all the spaces—sound, lighting, graphics, ProPresenter… being responsible for all of the communication side of the church as well, whether that's website, whether that's print materials, digital materials, social media marketing—that call kind of falls into my domain. I kind of equate myself to a Leatherman (tool). The fact that I have to have the ability to have many different tools all at once in my back pocket.
At the end of the day, what really gives you a sense of accomplishment?
I think it's letting my work have meaning, and ensuring that the work that I'm doing is for the purpose of moving the Church forward and ultimately fulfilling the Great Commission. So if my work doesn't have meaning and doesn't have a purpose, it's hard for me to be passionate about it. But because there's so much more than just running sound or just running ProPresenter, at the end of the day, I can feel like I had a good day of work when I know that the gospel is preached, His message was proclaimed, and we can continue to move that message forward in the community. That's really the crux of why I do what I do.
Could I be successful and survive in a corporate environment? Probably for a little while, but without having that sense of passion and that sense of meaning behind the work that I do, I think I would burn out. My work has a lot of long days and a lot of weird hours and the reason why I can sustain those long days and weird hours is because the work that I do does have a purpose, and that purpose has long term and eternal impact as opposed to just kind of day-to-day impact on what all the church is doing.
One of the things that I love doing is taking an environment and being able to shape that environment based on the purpose of meetings on that day. The worship service and the worship music certainly place an impact on the feeling of the room and what that environment feels like, but so does the media from the perspective of what the room looks like. That's the part that I love—being able to take pictures and videos and lyrics and lights and sound, and being able to bring all that together into something that completely changes. It changes the outlook and the feeling of the room—all of those things are going to have an impact on how someone can respond to the gospel on a Sunday morning.
I want to create an atmosphere of worship. That way, people can come to experience what the gospel is, and also walk away with a message from what that sermon is preached upon. I want to continue to amplify that message as opposed to taking away from it.
What kind of advice would you give to somebody who’s interested in media ministry?
Find a mentor. Find someone who you can look up to and ask the questions of and learn underneath their wings. Reach out to those people who you say to, “Hey, that's so cool. I want to be like you someday,” because of the work that they're doing. Or you see online that they are accomplishing a task that you have no clue how they did it.
I have yet to reach out to a media Director somewhere else or a touring audio guy, and for them just to completely blow me off and not respond. Most of the time I could say, “Hey, how do you make your broadcast stream sound so good?” and they'll say, “Hey, let's get on the phone and let's talk about it,” or, “Hey, this is what I do—follow steps A, B, C, and D, where I use this particular piece of equipment in order to accomplish it.”
There is no shame in asking for help, and everyone wants the entire church to grow better together.
I have yet to find someone that is like, “No, we want our church to be successful, and we don't want your church to be successful.” That's not the art and aspect of ministry, especially from a media side. If there's cool tips and tricks that we've all found out, we want to be a part of a bigger community in helping… grow and teach the next generation who's going to end up taking over for us some day, no matter what.
I remember as a young guy, media ministry meant turning on the amplifier before the service so that the microphone on the pulpit would work. That was it.
It's crazy how it's evolved over time. I think it's one of the things that COVID has helped put a lot of eyes on, is the amount of work and effort that is put into the media side of things… In the span of a week or two, I'd probably say, upwards of 90 percent of churches immediately met online. And they had to figure out a solution to do that. And the majority of guys were able to figure out how to do that and switch to this entirely new aspect of what church looks like.