Every Sunday, there are countless individuals who work behind the scenes to help bring church together. They are the coordinators who direct our welcoming and hospitality teams to greet first-time guests and visitors. They are the creative and technical minds who design onscreen graphics or manage the sound during our worship services. They are the hands and feet of Open Door who book our ministry meetings and take care of our little ones. But who are they exactly? Threshold finds out and introduces our newest staff members to join the Open Door family!
Office Administrator – Jenny Hwang
Tell us a little about yourself. What led you to become a part-time office administrator at ODPC?
I decided to take the admin position because I recently decided to quit my full-time job. I was working as a Business Analyst Manager at a company that develops website systems for other companies like Lowe’s Canada. Because my job required me to travel, it was too much for my family. So my husband Danny (Mr. Frugalee) and I decided that it was ok for me to quit from a financial standpoint. But I knew that being a full-time stay at home mom was not for me… well, at least not yet. So in the last week that Jane (former office administrator) was leaving I asked her if the part-time admin job was still open. And so here I am today working part-time for our church. I definitely have big shoes to fill, and I can’t imagine how I can even fill part of it.
Though my free time is not as plentiful as it used to be since my two year old was born, I strive to be physically fit. I used to play tennis and after marrying Danny I started to run. I ran my first half marathon after meeting him. I also am an avid TV watcher, though trying to be less so, but I like the stories, drama, and excitement and I am a nerd at heart. I watch Korean dramas, cop shows, sci-fi shows, Disney movies, anime, Marvel/DC comics, Jane Austen-like movies/mini-series, etc. During my freshmen year of college, I really wanted to re-watch Gargoyles so I found a way to re-watch all 78 episodes.
Not only are you a member and staff of our church but you’re also active in other ministries. How do you balance these different roles?
I don’t think I have gotten to a point where it’s ever needed to be reconciled, it hasn’t been that long where I’ve been in this role. But I do have to be careful about the boundaries of my time especially since I left my full-time job to have more time with my family. For me, any type of work I want to do to the best of my ability, but I intentionally asked about the part-time admin position so that I can have that time at home. So managing my time is going to be important because, to me, my family is a higher priority ministry than anything else. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.
Your husband, Mr. Frugalee, manages a blog about personal finance. Any tips you can relay to us about financial independence?
Tithe! Not only is it Biblical, but the giving of 10% will help you manage your finances better. And it’s not really YOUR money anyway. We are all stewards of God’s creation thus we should tithe and give offerings. Though this shouldn’t be the reason for why you tithe, God blesses those who tithe. It should be the 9th Beatitude. Blessed are those who tithe for they make God happy. God loves cheerful givers.
Audio Visual Technician – Chris Goodin
I once heard the audio engineer referred to as the invisible band member because they’re rarely seen onstage. Can you explain what an audio engineer is and what they do? How did you end up as ODPC’s audio engineer?
An Audio Engineer captures, manipulates and balances sounds. They take the natural sound of an instrument or voice and try to bring the best elements of that sound out while balancing how the different instruments or voices work together in what’s called a mix. It starts at the source, whether that’s a guitar amp or a bass guitar or drums or vocals. An audio engineer’s job is to bring the best elements of whatever sounds are being made and blend those sounds together. To do this you need to understand mixing techniques, gain staging, phase, EQ and compression.
I started out as a teenager learning to play the bass guitar and doing that in the youth group praise band and rock bands with friends. Over the years, every band I was in would eventually want to record our original music. We started out going to recording studios, which were very expensive, and recording as much music as cheaply as we could. Not happy with the results, my friend and I set out to start recording our own music back in 2003.
Eventually I became very passionate about recording and mixing music and started recording local bands in the DMV in 2010. In 2014, after a visit to Nashville I decided to pursue Audio Engineering full-time and enrolled in the Audio Engineering program at The Blackbird Academy, one of the best recording studios and schools in the world.
I gave my two weeks at my government job, and my wife and I moved to Nashville. It was a six-month program and I spent six months interning with mixer Ryan Hewitt at Addiction Studios in Nashville. I was a runner on sessions with Third Eye Blind, The Fray, John Oates of Hall and Oates, and a really cool band called Paperbird.
It was an amazing experience and I learned valuable lessons I will never forget. After I finished my internships, my wife and I moved home to Ashburn, VA to be closer to family. I now have my own home studio and can freelance out of many of the top studios in the area.
I’ve always had a desire to go back to my roots in Praise and Worship and serve the Lord. My friend and bandmate, Gene Sim, shared the opening at ODPC for the A/V Tech position and I applied as soon as I saw the ad. I helped out a couple of times before interviewing and really enjoyed working alongside the bands and learning more about live sound. It’s a different animal than the studio, but it’s a lot of fun and awesome to feel God move in the room.
I am still a musician and write/record my own music and work with many local bands as I can, but my passion is mixing music and I feel very blessed to be a part of the team at ODPC.
Gain staging, phase, EQ, and compression all sound like very technical terms. Given how specialized your role is, how do you think the audio engineer contributes to the overall worship experience? What can we expect to see changed or different with you manning the sound board?
I’m hoping to bring consistency to the week-to-week sound. My personal taste is big drums and nice low end. Studio mixing and live sound are entirely different animals. Tricks I know in the studio don’t always work with a live band in a big room. I’m hoping to grow with the praise team and most importantly, get the sound quality to a level that helps the congregation worship the Lord. There is nothing greater than hearing the voices of the congregation and feeling God’s presence in the room. It’s powerful.
Nashville, TN is arguably the music capital of America if not the world but the last time I was there, I only really heard country rock and honky tonk music. Ever see contemporary Christian music (CCM) heading in that direction?
I attended a few churches in Nashville while I was there and the praise and worship was very good. I know there was a CCM presence there as well; I think a few of the big record labels for CCM are based out of Nashville. There’s a lot of music coming out of Nashville that’s not country at all. Nashville is one of the last places in the country that the music business still exists. I’ve heard it called the Alamo of the music business. It’s the music business’s last stand.
FVM Assistant Director – Lillian Son
Give us some background into the person that you are. What are some activities that you enjoy?
So to tell you a little about me, I’m a Dallas native! I was born and raised in a town called Plano. I’m a Cowboys fan, love Mexican food, and despite how pale I am, I absolutely love lounging around the pool on a sunny day.
Honestly, growing up I never had a steady hobby. Instead, I was always looking to try something new. Some fun things I’ve tried are outdoor rock climbing, surfing, rafting, and snorkeling.
I am a huge foodie. Again, I love trying new things like live octopus, chicken feet, and live shrimp. BUT I always go back to my roots, because Korean food is my favorite.
I love to travel, and find it amazing how God created SO much beauty in the world. Since my husband, Brad, is in the US Army, we have traveled quite a bit. We loved the years we spent in Korea and all the places we got to see in Asia. I think, by far, Phuket, Thailand was one of the most beautiful places.
Speaking of my husband, we’ve been married for 8 years and dated 3 years before that. Now we have 3 kids and can’t remember how it all happened so fast.
What brought you to Open Door? How did you get involved with Fruitful Vineyard Ministry (FVM)?
Prior to us moving to Northern Virginia, we moved around almost every year. Our decision to come here was in the hopes of having a little more stability. It quickly began to feel like home, but I do feel like a large part of that was because we found such an awesome community at ODPC. I don’t mean for this to sound sad, but we really lacked community in most of our duty stations, so we tried hard to put ourselves out there this time around.
With the support of the friends I made at ODPC, I really cannot tell you how much God has been working in my life. I feel extremely blessed to have met the people I did, and I feel like I have never felt so encouraged to step out of my comfort zone and really trust that God will pave my path. I will be the first to admit how broken I am, and that my life growing up was far from perfect, but it has been so humbling to know that even in my brokenness God is able to use me!
I love working with children, and feel like FVM is such a perfect way to balance my life!! I majored in family and child development in college, and I have always had a passion for working with kids. Maybe it’s because I speak their language and I feel like they just get me. HAHA!
In all seriousness, I am fascinated by children in this age group because of the way they are developing, and I love seeing the children in their blob-like stage transforming into little humans with so much personality in such a short time span!!
How do you think FVM can grow as a ministry? Kids that participate in FVM are very young – how does FVM play a part in how they mature into their Christian faith?
I think FVM lays a very important foundation for our children’s faith and the future for our church.
As a parent, I spend a good number of days worrying about how I’m going to teach my children to have good values and do what is right by God, especially when temptations come at school, at home, and with friends. Early on, I committed them to God and I know that He has a plan for them, but I don’t believe that He would like for me to just sit back and watch. I do believe that through ministries such as FVM we are able to do our part to teach these young children what it means to follow Jesus and show them what it looks like to love God at this early stage of development.
Getting them in the routine of Sunday worship, praising God, learning about His word, praying, loving others, and giving offering, is all very important to learn early on. I see first-hand how the things they learn in Sunday school directly influence their decisions and habits.
As the Assistant Director, I think it’s important to find engaging and fun ways to teach the Word so that they will have the desire to come back and learn more. I believe it’s important to be a place where the children feel comfortable and welcomed, and that each day is exciting and new.
As many of us know, the children’s program is often what draws our families in to church, and I think that this is a very important ministry to help retain those families that walk in through our church doors. I hope to do my part in meeting the needs of each family in all aspects of our ministry, that families will want to partner with us to raise the next generation to be on fire for God, and that the overflow of God’s love and the excitement of the Good News will carry over in their ability to witness to others!
Office Administrator – Anita Lee
You’re originally from New York state but first visited ODPC by way of your sister and brother-in-law. In the past year, you’ve gone from attending ODPC to becoming full-time staff. How do you go about making that transition?
Out of all of the questions, I think this one was the most difficult for me to answer. I have been trying to think about the transition and, for me, I don’t know if there will be a concrete differential role from attendee to full-time staff. I have been viewing it more as serving the church but having more responsibilities in the day-to-day aspect. I have worked as an admin for a church before, and I believe becoming full-time staff feels natural at times because it’s like you are taking more steps into becoming involved. When you step down from being full-time staff to becoming just an attendee, it is a harder transition because you are not the person who people default to for help anymore.
When I see our ODPC pastors on Sunday, I see them as my pastors and spiritual leaders. But in your position as full-time admin, they’re kind of like your weekday boss. Where do you draw that line?
I think for me it might remain a bit blurred. So far, I have been blessed with supervisors and other ‘bosses’ who have really been more mentor-like to me. Though the pastors will be my bosses, I think my default is to regard them as sort of mentors more than as distinct boss-people who will lead me in a different way. Because I have not yet started and don’t quite have that relationship, we’ll have to see what happens.
You’re a fan of ice hockey and the Chicago Blackhawks. How did that come to be for a native New Yorker?
I actually only really got interested in hockey within the past three or so years. I saw/heard that NY Rangers were playing against the Washington Capitals in the playoffs and so I started to watch those games. I was rooting for NY to win, which they did, and so I got excited (and a little invested). Then they went against the Tampa Bay Lightning that year for the Eastern Conference. NY lost to Tampa, and the whole time I was watching the games, I got upset because of how Tampa was playing the game (I didn’t quite like their overuse of force and the way they would take minor penalties against NY). So when Tampa went against the Blackhawks during the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals, I started to root for the Blackhawks. At that point, I kind of just wanted Tampa to lose to anyone. So as I was watching and rooting for the Blackhawks, I really appreciated that though they were also fouled on, the Blackhawks did not necessarily retaliate with force, but more with their skills and by winning the game. They ended up winning the Stanley Cup that year. Once the season started in October, I ended up watching a couple of NY Rangers games and the NY Islanders, but I ended up watching mostly Blackhawks games. And I just kind of stuck with the Blackhawks since.
GEM Coordinator – Teri Moon
Can you give us the rundown on Guest Experience Ministry (GEM)? How does this fit into the larger Sunday Experience that we’ve heard so much about?
When we say Sunday Experience we are referring to what our guests and members experience on Sundays from the moment they arrive onto our campus to the moment they leave our campus.
The two ministries that are responsible for the Sunday Experience are Sunday Worship Teams (Media, Praise, Preaching and Prayer) and the Guest Experience Ministry Teams (Greeting, Hosting, Parking, Welcoming, Connections, and Hospitality) (GEM). GEM exists to create an environment that is warm and inviting to our guests who visit Open Door. GEM is basically the “front door” of our Sunday Experience. We want to do everything we can to make our guests feel welcomed and to communicate that they belong at our church. We want to do all we can to have them return and hopefully join one of our small group communities.
The Sunday Experience is very important to the vision and mission of our church (the excerpt below is taken from our 2016-18 Goals and Objectives):
Our desire is to create a setting and experience where people can learn the good news that God has opened the “door to life-changing grace” – Jesus Christ. We want this learning to be both “taught” in our preaching, sharing, and communication AND “caught” in our hospitality and welcome as we practice the ethos of the gospel.
OK, so I’m a first-time guest of Open Door on any given Sunday. Can you walk us through a typical guest experience?
The goal of GEM is to create a personalized experience for our first-time guests. We have volunteers from the Greeting and Welcoming teams whose specific roles are to identify and greet them as soon as they walk into our church. These volunteers are also available to answer basic questions at the new Welcome Booth, located in the narthex, or to escort guests to their destinations throughout our campus. After worship service, new guests are invited to visit the Welcome Center, where they can pick up a visitor’s gift and meet pastors or leaders, who look forward to engaging with them as they answer further questions, provide clear information, and help them take next steps.
Although our desire is to create a personalized experience for our guests, we also respect their desire for anonymity. However, when they identify themselves through our online contact forms, which are available at the Booth and in the Center, they can receive a follow-up email from a member of the Welcoming and Connections team. The email will thank the guest for joining us for worship, invite them to return, and share ways they can get connected into the life of our church, through small groups, Bible studies, various ministries, or becoming a member.
One of your listed hobbies is playing board games. What’s one that you would recommend and why?
Balderdash (or Beyond Balderdash). I love games that involve words. I love how it makes us think outside the box. I love how this game brings out the creative and witty humor of those who are playing. And I love that our children, Jadon and Ella, enjoy playing this game with us.
Graphic Designer – Sam Choi
We’ve come a long way from using transparency paper and old school projectors. You teach digital arts full-time, how do you think media and technology in general have shaped the Sunday Experience? Can visual aids help communicate the gospel message?
I think that the Sunday Experience is just that, an experience. Experience can be defined as “an event or occurrence that leaves an impression on someone.” When we have guests or even members of our church come for Sunday service, we want that to leave a lasting impression on them. Not only because we would want them to return but because we want their lives to be changed. If people enjoy the Sunday experience, they are more likely to return and the more they return the more opportunities there are for the Holy Spirit to work within them. Though it may seem like having all this technology might be too much, I personally think it provides a good entry point for people. They don’t have to commit to coming on a Sunday and can instead enjoy the service on a live stream. Or they can go upstairs to the overflow room so they don’t need to be worried about their children. All of this technology just helps us reach more people so they can have a life-changing encounter with God.
Visual media can be a huge proponent of the gospel message. The world today is so saturated with useless, mind-numbing media. Just look at Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. So many people are just scrolling through their feeds without really engaging with it. I want to, instead of adding to the noise, create things that will cause people to stop and engage. When I create the various materials for church, I want people, even if it’s just for a few seconds, to stop and really think about what it is they’re looking at and through that the hope is that they will be able to experience the gospel message of Jesus.
Can you discuss the creative process (soup to nuts!) that goes on when you’re designing graphics for church? Part of your position also entails a marketing component where graphics are used to communicate upcoming events. Can graphics be designed in a way to promote community?
When I design something for church, I usually start out with a few sketches. I first started creating art when I was in middle school and most of my work was done using more traditional mediums. It’s only been a few years since I’ve moved over to the digital format, so drawing things with paper and pencils feel more natural to me. After that, I generally move onto the computer and start creating. I search through different websites to find the right images and fonts and then, once I have all that selected, I play around with composition, size, and colors.
I’m always thinking about the idea of community when I work on church assignments. I don’t think it’s possible to get away from it. When I create the projects for church, it’s not just for myself but for the entire church. I have to be sure that I represent the various groups or event properly and accurately. I have to consider who is viewing the work and how will they react when they see it. If I spend so many hours on one project and the community sees it as a misrepresentation of that group then they will be turned off, and thus the community is being separated instead of being brought together.
I have it on good authority that you also play the bass guitar. Care to make an analogy between graphic design and music?
Ooh, that’s a hard one. Yes, I do play the bass but I would hardly consider myself a musician. I’ll give it a shot. Design is visual bass. It isn’t necessarily flashy and in your face, but without it you have no base (get it?) to stand on. Just like the bass instrument it is the driving force that the whole band follows. That’s the best I can do. I’m not very good at making analogies.
A special thanks to Jenny Hwang, Chris Goodin, Lillian Son, Anita Lee, Teri Moon and Sam Choi for their contribution to this article. Photo Credit: Brian Choi