The Hour of Darkness

Today we used two creative elements  to touch on the crucifixion.

1.  We played this reverse poem as a bumper before Shane came up to speak. This video from “The Meet House” is really well done:

2.  After the message, we distributed the elements for communion and then the light came up on a monologue we wrote that describes the perspective of the man that owned the house that held the Upper Room where Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples. Here is the script:

My name is Nick. I own a home not far from the temple here in Jerusalem.  Living in Jerusalem can be… well… interesting.  For instance, with the rising presence of the Roman Empire, there has been a growing anticipation for the coming of a Messiah.  EVERYONE just senses it… something’s in the air: change is coming.  So you can imagine the stir when Jesus hit the scene.  Stories of miracles… healings… and even stories of him openly rebuking the Pharisees.  Anyone that calls a group of Pharisees a “brood of vipers” definitely has a death wish.

Still… Jesus intrigued me. More than intrigued, really. Once he said that anyone that believed in Him would have eternal life. No one, and I mean NO ONE taught like he did.  He spoke with authority. People doubted, but I believed. After one of his teachings, I told him, “Whatever I can do to serve you, just say the word. All that I have is yours.” – Little did I know that He would actually take me up on the offer.

The Passover season was beginning. In preparation, I went to gather some water… and as I was heading back home two of Jesus’ disciples – Peter and John – stopped me. They said “The Teacher asks, ‘where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples.’” When they said “The Teacher” – I knew they meant Jesus, and I knew He had sent them to collect on my vow.  My home was available. I was available.

When the disciples arrived, I could tell everyone was on edge.  Jesus, who was normally calm, appeared as though He was on a mission that night.  First, just as the meal was being served, He began to do what is required of a servant. He began to wash his disciples’ feet. Imagine! Jesus, The Master… washing His disciples’ feet. It’s true, though. This King of Kings who had commanded the wind and cured people of leprosy, washed the feet of his disciples.

But that’s not all, nor was that the most shocking thing that happened that night.  When the hour came, Jesus and His apostles reclined at the table. And He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

After taking the cup, He gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you.  For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

It was the most holy of moments. I don’t think any of us truly understood what Jesus was saying, but we do now. Jesus was to endure the cross on our behalf.  In the first Passover, we celebrated freedom from the physical slavery we experienced in Egypt.  Now, we celebrate freedom from the slavery of sin… all because the Lamb of God was slain at Passover – his body broken like matzo bread and his blood poured out like wine… for us.


In the past year since our grand opening of our new auditorium, we have grown over 800 people, which has been incredible. Yet, we have seen that while our attendance has increased, all other things (for the most part) was left unchanged (giving, serving, etc).  In response, our church’s leadership sensed it was time to have a vision Sunday to help people move from the sidelines, and into the journey with everyone else.  Creatively, we sought to help move people through two elements:

1.  Vision Video: – Inspired by North Point’s video (, we wanted to highlight a couple in our church that really understood The Crossing’s vision and showed that by the way they lived and served here… a couple that not only gave, but also served, invested into the lives of others, and were truly a part of the journey here at The Crossing. We decided to highlight the Yao’s… but with a twist… at first, Lee Coate interviewed them about their investment here in The Crossing, but within a couple of minutes a whole crowd of people appeared in the video, completely surprising the Yao’s. Then, one by one, people came up to the table to share with the Yao’s about how their investment was impacting their lives… See the video here:

2.  Pavers: – We encouraged everyone as they left the service to go to a designated area to grab a paver and write their names on one side of it… on the bottom, we asked them to write out the names of people that they were investing in as well.  One by one, each person laid down their paver until we had thousands that together created a path.  All of this proved by be powerfully effective.  We took video of everyone writing on their pavers to create our next video bumper.

REACH: One Face. One Story.

Today was REACH Sunday at The Crossing.  REACH represents our mission emphasis throughout the world as well as locally here in Las Vegas. Once a year, we devote a Sunday to share all that God has done in the past year through REACH as well as cast a bit of vision for the future. There were four key elements that we did creatively to drive our points home this year.

1.  At the end of his message, Shane took a moment to share the story of meeting Yuuki while on a mission trip to Osaka, Japan. Our team printed a large poster size print of what looks like an Instagram photo with the two of them together.  Shane introduced the phrase “One face. One story” at this time.

2.  We then rolled a very quick bumper, and during this bumper six easels were placed on stage while three people lined up stage right and three lined up stage left. Once the bumper had finished and the light came up, one by one each person shared their own “One face. One story” of someone that impacted them while on mission. Each person had their own pic with the person in the same format of Shane’s picture.

3.  Once these six were done, the band did a liver version of the song “Kings and Queens” by Audio Adrenaline. While the band played, there was a video montage of pictures with Ken Burns effect of all of the different trips in 2014.

4. Once the band had finished, Benji Zimmerman (our Missions Director) gave an appeal for those in the audience to discover their own “One face. One story,” and challenged them to return in the evening when we would reveal the places and dates of our 2015 trips.

EXILED: The Queen of Beauty and Courage

Today’s challenge was how to set up our speaker (Lee Coate) for a win by effectively communicating the entire story of Esther in 30 minutes or less in an engaging and entertaining way.  We decided to use four playing cards as a teaching tool, each printed poster size.

King Xerxes was the King of Clubs

Queen Vashti was the Queen of Diamonds

Esther was the Queen of Hearts

Haman was The Joker.

During the bumper, our stage manager placed all of the cards on easels facing backwards.  Lee turned each card around to reveal the image when he was ready for it in his message.

These cards proved to be an effective way to communicate the entirety of the story in 30 minutes, as planned. Plus, it fit our Vegas crowd pretty well. 🙂


Home From Exile

Today we covered Chapter 19 of The Story which covers the return to home from exile for the people of Israel.  We wanted to create a moment today that would resonate with people about returning home and hopefully help people get a taste of what it would be like to return home as the people of God did.

We decided to find an old abandoned home where we could shoot a video with a voice over.  We ended up finding a home off of I-15 just outside of Barstow, CA. We later added the following as our voice over:

Imagine what it would look like to return to your home after years away . . .    Who would be there? Would it still smell the same, feel the same or look the same?   Maybe that’s why they say, “You can’t go home again”  I remember returning home for the first time after years away, after my parents divorced.  Everything had changed. The memories I had of that place and what was real where strangely in conflict. What I remembered and what was real had changed.  The tension of where I had been and where I was now almost overwhelmed me.   Now, imagine being the Israelites.  Imagine returning home after a journey that took 70 years.  70 years.  Imagine leaving your home at the age of 10 and not returning until you were 80.   Everything had changed. Everything.   The place you once loved is now a hollow shell of what it used to be.  The walls you had built with your bare hands now stand burned and broken.  The remnants of prior lives now lay strewn about the yards and street The  The smells that were so familiar have been replaced by the stench of burnt wood and dust.   How many Israelites even remember what their home looked like? How many were born on the journey? How many arrived back at “home” and muttered, “This is it?  This is what we have been looking forward too for years? This is …Home.  We are all on a journey.  A journey through life.  A journey in relationships.  A journey with God.   The journey is long and winding, It climbs mountains and crosses deserts, It wanders and meanders, sometimes it takes us far from home…  Tim Keller says this,  “Home is a powerful but elusive concept. The strong feelings that surround it reveal some deep longing within us for a place that absolutely fits and absolutely suits us, a place where we can be or perhaps find our true selves.  Yet it seems that no real place or actual family actually totally satisfies these feelings or yearnings.”  And home rarely looks the same when we return, especially the longer we have been away.  But perhaps home is where we started and this long and winding journey we are on inevitably brings us back towards home…   Back to our true home… God, at Home in us. 

View the final product here:

Our Creative Team decided to do a Beatles tune after the video called “The Long and Winding Road” – We made an arrangement of our own that was scaled back a bit from the original with it’s orchestral score. We had a female vocal lead, acoustic, bass, drums, and keys. No BGV.


Our theme this Christmas was “Shine.” Our creative team was inspired by John 1:5 – “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

Pre-Service / Countdown:

For our pre-service this year, we did something a bit different.  Usually we pre-record a 10 minute countdown that has various informational elements interspersed with humor from a couple of our staff members. This year, our 10 minute countdown had a live element instead. We sent Mark and Nate to do live segments from where we were shooting family photos for Christmas.

Once those segments were finished we played our parody of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” called “Shop it Off.”

Watch it here:


For our opening, we created a drum element with three drummers: One played from a bass drum we suspended from the ceiling. The second played a bass drum from the stage. The third was on the drum set. While the drummers played, a video was played sharing our theme of light over darkness this year.  Following this, we sang O Come Let Us Adore Him, Joy To The World/Hark The Herald, O Holy Night and then had our welcome/greeting moment.

Shine 2

Message Elements:

After the host moment, we transitioned by lowering a scrim during prayer. We did our own live version of Amena Brown’s spoken word as seen here: – While the speaker delivered his lines, we projected key words from the script up on the scrim behind him. When he finished, our band played Lauren Daigle’s song “Light of the World” while we had a professional aerialist give her best artistic expression as inspired by this song.


See the song and aerialist here:

Shine 3

At the end of the service, we had four vocalists sing Pentatonix’s version of “Silent Night” as our guest services team started candle lighting throughout our auditorium.