Skeptics Wanted: Week 1 (April 23, 2017)

Easter was huge for us this year! Almost 10k people and over 185 baptisms! See our recap video here:

 

As we hit our first Sunday after Easter, we entered into a new series for Skeptics – we wanted to have a strong service for any returning from Easter eager to dive in.  But how do non-skeptics reach out to those that are genuinely skeptical? We felt that the best way would be to hear the story from someone that was once a skeptic, someone that struggled big time with the idea of a all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God of the universe.  This search for someone laded us with Dan Ward.  Dan currently serves with us on staff, but there was a time where the thought of attending church, let alone working in a church would have broke Dan out in hives.  He was not just a skeptic, but one that actively and somewhat agressively attempted to discourage faith in others.

Then we wrestled with a song choice… was there a song that spoke about skepticism that would fit Dan’s story?  After a lot of searching, we landed on John Mayer’s “Something’s Missing” off of his Heavier Things album.

Here’s the lyrics:

I’m not alone
I wish I was
‘Cause then I’d know I was down because
I couldn’t find a friend around
To love me like they do right now
They do right now
I’m dizzy from the shopping mall
I searched for joy, but I bought it all
It doesn’t help the hunger pains
And a thirst I’d have to drown first to ever satiate
Something’s missing
And I don’t know how to fix it
Something’s missing
And I don’t know what it is
No I don’t know what it is
At all
When autumn comes
It doesn’t ask
It just walks in where it left you last
You never know when it starts
Until there’s fog inside the glass around
Your summer heart
Something’s missing
And I don’t know how to fix it
Something’s missing
And I don’t know what it is
No I don’t know what it is
At all
I can’t be sure that this state of mind
Is not of my own design
I wish there was an over-the-counter test
For loneliness
For loneliness like this
Something’s missing
And I don’t know how to fix it
Something’s missing
And I don’t know what it is
No I don’t know what it is
Something’s different
And I don’t know what it is
No I don’t know what it is
Friends
(Check)
Money
(Check)
A well slept
(Check)
Opposite sex
(Check)
Guitar
(Check)
Microphone
(Check)
Messages waiting on me when
I come home
(Check)
How come everything I think I need, always comes with batteries?
What do you think it means
How come everything I think I need, always comes with batteries?
————
The theme of something missing gave one of us the idea of a large puzzle with someone trying to find that missing piece.  What if we had a puzzle made with images of daily life on it (family, work, etc) and had someone trying to fit these pieces together? This idea was then combined with the Dan Ward story.   What if why he’s telling his story, he does the puzzle pieces?  We created a 50 piece large puzzle(through Portrait Puzzles, available on line) from an image we created, set up a time to shoot, and started production.
————
Here’s a time-lapse of our video shoot:
Here’s the final product:
We played Dan’s story in the room and then went straight into the song “Something’s Missing” as a set up for the message.
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Learnings:
The power of story cannot be underestimated, especially when tackling a difficult subject.
Sometimes your best idea comes from combining several ideas into one.
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A Gethsemane Moment

 

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We’ve continued in our series in Mark (entitled “Encounter”) as we inch closer to Easter this year, and the inevitable moment arrived in our creative planning: How do does one handle the topic of pain through the lens of Jesus’ experience in the Garden of Gethsemane?

Such pain is not normal pain… it’s not like a toothache or a broken heart.  It’s wholly other.  It’s the type of pain that alters the course of one’s life.  After a “gethsemane moment,” one is forever changed.

But how can a team capture such a moment?  Such a powerful moment from Scripture cannot find an equal, but we figured there might be a story from someone within our church that could relate to this sort of pain or loss.

In 2006, two teenage girls – Brooke and Kylie Prendes – discovered that their daddy, a policeman, had been shot and killed forever changing the course of their lives.  Here is their story:

 

To handle the scope of such a story, and to do so from the perspective of BOTH Brooke and Kylie, we decided it would be best to capture their story through voice over.  We asked them to each take some time and write their stories down.  What they wrote would make an incredible short film. Truly. The details… the small things easily remembered through such a tragic event can really leave an impact on the reader. However, we only had about 5 minutes in our service carved out for this moment, So, we asked them to trim it down… a lot. The next iteration was better and much shorter.  Yet even after their edits, this video would have easily been 7-8 minutes in length. So… we asked them to do the impossible: Trim each block of their story by three or four more sentences each. Undoubtedly, the cuts and edits were hard for them to do since every memory was precious and worth sharing.  But here’s the beauty to this process… both Kylie and Brooke were the ones that determined the cut, not a video editor. They were the ones that distilled this story down to it’s essential elements.  (This is KEY when tackling a powerful story within a tight creative timeline within a service).  The result was a beautifully crafted story from both of their prospectives that hit 5 minutes in length on the mark.

Since the story was captured through voice over, we had to capture video in a way that told the story through compelling visuals.  We decided to shoot at four locations: 1. The Police Memorial Park – where there is a tree planted in Henry Prendes’ honor. 2. One of their homes – where we would also capture family photos. 3. In front of a police station. 4. And finally Henry’s gravestone with the full family present.  In all locations, we also captured b-roll of items that related to their story (uniform, badge, and cartridges from his 21 gun salute).

With the exception of a few scenes of video from the memorial that took place soon after Henry’s death in 2006, every seen was shot in 4K at 60fps – This was to fit the feel of the story.  When the footage was slowed down, it created a “slomo” effect that seemed to fit the mood of the piece.

Coming out of this video, we chose a song called “Do it Again” that speaks to God’s providence in times of trouble. As the video neared it’s end and the music bed faded, our worship team went into this song – this created a seamless transition from video to song.

So, how does one handle the topic of pain through the lens of Jesus’ experience in the Garden of Gethsemane?  Answer: through a lot of planning, working and re-working, and people willing to share their life-altering experience.

 

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