“The rut” is something every creative team attempts to avoid. However, the truth is we all have our sweet spots and our go to that tends to keep us inside the box of our own creation. This was one of those weeks that we were able to stretch ourselves beyond our normal boundaries in a way that brought impact…and was a lot of fun.
As we kicked off our Me, My Selfie, and I series we landed on the Voice version of “I’m So Humble.” It demanded a strong vocal lead and a rap piece. After some conversation we landed on the team of Johnson and Johnson … Tyriq (local musician and vocalist with Earth, Wind, and Fire tribute band) and Nate…our Student Ministry Pastor.
The result was…epic. Watch it here:
We went from closing hymns last weekend to rap dynamic this week. Your teams ability to do both is a great asset to the overall experience of communicating compelling truth from weekend to weekend. It also creates an inclusive environment as you are willing to experiment with your team and reach across genres.
If you turn on the news or watch your newsfeed lately you will see a story about racial tensions in our country. This issue has become a very hot topic as of late that can often divide us, even divide us in the church. Unfortunately, this divide is often clearly seen on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media with people angrily taking sides. Yet with all of the voices expressing anger and hate, there is a still small voice that needs to be heard: God’s. We may ask, “Where is God in all of this? How is the church to respond?”
With the recent events of this summer where tensions were heightened, our team had a deep sense that we could not ignore this. Undoubtedly, your worship or creative team have felt the same way. At a certain point, normal programming can seem out of place in the light of current events. So, what do you do?
As we processed the best way to tackle this subject, we brainstormed a bit on various options: The first thought was to take a picture with people praying together from our church that represented people from all backgrounds that we could share on social media. The idea was to give our people something to share on social media that was positive and not divisive. But our team didn’t feel like that was enough, but only scratching the surface.
Then the thought was do we shoot a video or capture a story that way? Though a good idea with some advantages to it, we passed on this idea as well, because we felt like it would be too canned… too distant for a topic that needed to be hit head on. Therefore, we decided to do a live interview. We felt bringing this conversation live and in the room was the best idea. And for us, the best idea wins.
But this led to the next question: how do we best represent the issue of racial reconciliation? Who would be the best people to ask to participate?
We landed on two incredible people:
Brandon Watts, Pastor of Epiphany Church in Brooklyn (http://epiphanybk.com) to speak of the African-American experience along with his Christian / pastoral response to recent events and the biblical call to reconciliation. The Crossing is partnering with Brandon and his congregation as they minister in Brooklyn, an area that is undergoing heavy gentrification at this time.
And Jim Seebock of the LVMPD to speak to the tension of law enforcement and the reality of tension there from a Christian perspective. Jim is proud of the work the LVMPD has done to ease such tension and will stressed that community engagement that is taking place to good affect.
We wanted the interview to land towards these four outcomes:
1. Awareness (The church needs to be involved in the conversation, not absent)
2. Understanding (Some perspective from both Shane’s message and the guys experience)
3. Acknowledgment (This is a complex issue. We are merely putting a comma on it, not a period)
4. Engagement (This was specifically geared towards our community partners as a means to engage in our community, improve it, and be “together” in stepping across any barriers).
We did a practice run through of the interview the day before and used the following questions as a beginning point of reference, but the final ones were changed a bit:
1. In light of recent events, what frustrations have you felt watching it unfold and what realizations have you come to that you have had to wrestle with from your unique perspective?
2. What do you wish people knew/understood about your perspective/context that could change the way you are viewed or interacted with?
3. How has your experiences been similar or different to what we may have been exposed to through the media or our own personal lives?
4. Acknowledging that the farther you are away from a problem, the simpler it seems, what can you say to help bring us closer?
5. In 1967 MLK said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” How can we not fall silent as your friends?
6. We just talked about Acts 10:27- Peter being sent to Cornelius- The gospel survived 2000 years ago because racial and social divisions made concessions to culture and to each other for the sake of the cross. It has to start with the church. How do suggest we own the problem as Christians and then what would you say to the church that we need to own- in regards to our Christianity- not as Americans or culturally, but as Christian people?
To see the message in its entirety, see below. To see the interview only, scroll to the 24 min. mark:
To close the service, we felt as a creative team that there needed to be an ending to the service that truly appealed to the heart. We felt the best close was to use a hymn or two that people would know that could bring everyone’s focus back to Jesus and in a way also remind everyone that we are the Church (capital “C”) no matter what our racial or socio-economic background happens to be. We landed on two hymns from which we created a medley… “How Great Thou Art,” and “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.” We intentionally moved our host moment up to the front of the service so we could simply land and close with this medley.
The response to this service was incredibly positive, but we realize we’ve just added a comma to the conversation, not a period.
This weekend was designed to be a call to action on multiple fronts as we geared up for our big fall launch. If you are in the “church world”, you recognize that this is one of those seasons where people return from summer breaks and those who who may be “curious” show up at our places. In preparation for that, we have been in the midst of a series entitled, “Risk It’ with the intent to call people out of their comfort zones. Our team programming team was deeply involved in forging this service around these two objectives:
Move People into Community through the vehicle of Groups
Move People into Investing in our Next Generation through serving
Objective #1: Our message was centered around this objective by specifically tackling the idea of moving people out of rows into circles. Based in Mark 2:1-12, the message concluded with a direct call to action in collaboration with our communications team using our app / and or mobile website. Our desire was to capture people in the moment and give them a next step to connect. The message concluded with this song:
Objective #2 was centered around a “ramped up” announcement moment our team created in collaboration with our Next Gen leadership team. The concept involved glow sticks distributed to each individual as they entered. Our media team created a video using representative kids and students asking adults to help them “light / glow” through their world. Kids on screen….always a compelling concept.
The moment concluded with our Senior Pastor explaining our vision and calling people to take action as glow sticks filled the auditorium.
Here is the Glow Sticks video:
When calling your people to action: Be clear,concise and consistent in how they can respond and what their next step is. Don’t leave this to chance.
Interactive elements, used sparingly and in the right context, are powerful and memorable.
Kids on screen = win.
Special Bonus Content:
Our Production Director created this strong bumper video to intro our series and speakers. Sometimes they are not always stellar and serve only to get our speaker on stage. Other times they rock. This is one of those times.
(Email Davidq@thecrossinglv.com if you are interested in any of this content)
As part of our finale for the Parables series, we wanted to visually present the parable of the sower on stage as a lead-in to the message. Our team decided to do this by placing four projection panels on the stage (actually just normal ½ coroplast) and the story of each different type of soil would unfold visually on each panel. The initial concept was that we would either actually film each soil with props, or use pre-existing stock footage with a scripted voice over. This original idea immediately began to morph as we went into execution mode.
A lack of cohesive footage led us to immediately decide to animate the four panels ourselves. The series branding was iconic and the animation style would allow us to further strengthen that branding. Also, one of the early concerns was that with pre-existing footage, each panel might look too distinct to feel that they were a cohesive story. By using animation, it gave us full control over the look, unifying all the components of our story. It was a good call.
A script was drafted and a rough scratch of the voiceover was recorded. One of the first steps toward animating was in finding our canvas. Our projection boards were placed on stage and held up with basic easels. Next, we needed to know where the projected image would fall, so the boards were mapped and we used Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop in full-screen mode for this. Once the board dimensions were locked in and how our projector would fall on them, it was time to get to work on the animation.
Reference images were chosen and vector objects were drawn in Adobe Illustrator to represent the seeds, plants, soils, and weeds. The actual animating was done in Apple Motion, mostly using keyframes, fades and effects. Masking and editing was done in Final Cut Pro X.
It was a great success, and the process created a model that we will be able to use on stage again soon in another context. Media that is used in a non-standard way, along with a well-told story, can leave an impression that sticks with you.
If you are interested in using this animation at your church, we plan on producing a Full 1080p version that we will distribute on various resource pages. We will have a link to that page at a later date.
We also need to create a version for those watching online. This is the version shown to online viewers:
(4) 4ft x 8ft Foam core boards
Animation & Editing Software
Using media in a new/different way can be an effective communication tool
Creating an animation can give you greater control over content
Animations don’t have to be perfect if the audio helps interpret what’s on screen and fill in the blanks of the story