It Begins…The Creative Process (Easter 2016 Part 1)

This is part one of five posts unpacking our Easter Process @ The Crossing

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Planning for Easter is unlike any other normal weekend throughout the year. It is the “Super Bowl” for the church as attendance spikes and more importantly, many who are unsure of where they are in their faith will come onto our campus and enter our services. It is from this perspective we tackle the planning of Easter programming.  There are many elements that we tac

kle when the planning begins. This year was unique in that Easter arrived early (March 27th) so our timeline post Christmas had to be sped up tremendously.

Our first creative planning gathering for Easter took place on February 9th. This was just over 45 days from Easter so we knew decisions needed to be made. To provide better focus, we choose an off-site location away from most office distractions. When we gathered at noon, we had carved out next five hours if necessary to start putting Easter together.

Two words…Creative Discipline.

Our process begins with:

Review (Where we have been)

  • Previous Year: This conversations centers around the previous year even looking at our run sheet from that Easter worship experience.
  • Learnings: Any learnings we documented from the previous year. All of our ministry departments do this post-Easter and it is an obvious help with perspective as we head into another weekend.
  • Impactful Creative Elements: We progress to a conversation around recent elements within our weekends that have been impactful. These often serve as a source of inspiration and ideas as we tend to lean into our strengths for these bigger weekends like Easter or Christmas.

Primary Target
We then move to our Primary Target. This is a great conversation that stimulates discussion around where we fill people in our immediate community are emotionally, spiritually, and even economically.

  • What are they feeling?
  • What are they fearing?
  • What are they struggling with?
  • How do we help them discover where Christ can fill in the gaps in their life?

Before we just start throwing ideas on the wall, we want to focus our thoughts on those we are hopeful will walk in our doors for the first time or the first time in a long time.

In this case we talked about the frustration so many feel with the expectations they are living under. It can even be someone who would be assumed to be successful or “living the dream”, but yet inside they are wrestling with thoughts of inadequacy, failure or even secret sins. They may even feel disqualified.

We also discussed the idea that at Easter so many people RETURN and pondered an experience around returning. This had some real momentum with our team for a few moments and we loved the imagery it invoked.

A lot of this conversation centered around a male perspective. We intentionally lean that direction as a default.

Initial “No Bad Idea” Segment:

At this point we begin throwing things out centered around different ideas we have accumulated for inspiration (we keep an Evernote with ideas specifically for Easter/Christmas) or just thoughts people on the team have had in preparation. These are literally just random visions of visuals, videos, interactive elements, etc. These all keep put down…nothing is discarded this early in the process.

Great Ideas are always an evolution of Initial Randomness

Our final ideas are almost always an evolution of this initial brainstorm process.

This year we had conversations around some of the following:

  • Prodigal Son (representative of returning)
  • The Great Divide between God and ourselves (some conversation around a video at the Grand Canyon representing this reality)
  • Color vs. Grey (we discussed could we use color and the addition of color to symbolize life and/or new life)

We also started a discussion around music. Since this is something we lean heavily into it is often the driver of our creativity. With this, laptops starting humming and tunes began flying. We compiled a list of potential songs such as:

Resurrecting- Elevation worship
Man of Sorrows- Hillsong
Risen King- River Valley Music
O Come to the Altar- Elevation worship
One Thing – Hillsong Worship
Come Home – Illuminate
choirOur conversation eventually really centered in on the idea of “coming back” and was connected to what we knew from our communicator at that point as his message was coming together. At this point we were narrowing on prodigal son and that is when The Road video surfaced.
The Road is a video concept we had executed 3 years prior based on a commercial known as Walking Man.  The idea is to unpack a narrative utilizing props in …one take. Not cuts. Our team had always talked about eventually using this concept again when it was appropriate. This seemed to be the time.
(Wednesday Blog Post will be the journey of producing the Road Video)
Letting It Simmer:
We began laying in a rough sketch of the service. Very rough. At this point we were opening with the Alive song as a big opener. A couple worship songs into The Road video, message and a response song. On Easter we always have a full 25 minute message with a “Call To Christ” response moment. So we began working around those elements.
This was the point when we wrapped it up and it began to simmer.

The “simmering” of creativity is crucial.

Now here is the thing. Very little from that first gathering ever came about in the way we thought. In fact, none of it. Songs were moved. Video content changed. Items were added. But laying a rough was important for us as we began to turn up the heat.
Prodigal Son …became the Comeback of Peter
Opening Moment with Alive…became a Spoken Word (adapted)
Alive Opening Song…became chill Resurrected building to a moment with Choir
Communion went from a concept to full execution as a part of the service.
Learnings:
  • A preliminary plan is important part of process. And then be prepared to watch it change.
  • Understanding your desired response to the service experience is an important part of the creative process. If you just start flinging Easter ideas on the wall…you will get a convoluted mess. It may be filled with creativity, but lack impact.
  • Big days like Easter are times to be tempted to go too far over the top. Our strategy is to just do our normal service …on steroids.  We don’t want people to experience something that they never would again when they return.

Tomorrow…  a look at a massive video project we took on…

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