Playlist: How to Tackle Psalms

What do you do creatively for a seven week series in the Psalms called “Playlist?” 

For us, it starts with a bumper that leverages music but in a unique way. We chose to use an old radio in a 1953 Dodge Coronet as a backdrop while stations are changed featuring mashups of songs most people would know. Each mashup featured two well known songs mixed together giving us twice the airplay in the same amount of time:

Our Playlist Bumper includes mash ups from the following artists:

1. “Staying Alive” by The Bee Gees / “Back in Black” by AC/DC

2.  “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith / “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars

3.  “Get Down” by Kool & The Gang / “24 Karat Magic” by Bruno Mars

4. “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran / “Every Breathe You Take” by The Police

5.  “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” by Will Smith / “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

6.  “Loose Yourself” by Eminem / “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve

7.  “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele / “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor.

Music can bring people back to memories and feelings. Mixing songs together can make an experience interesting and can also bring humor.  The Bee Gees and AC/DC? Really? Yes. Really… and it’s funny. 🙂 

At the same time, any reading from Psalms could use a good reading. It’s poetry and song lyrics, after all. So we decided to do a reading of our first Psalm (Ps 90) in a stark, black and white look – that eventually turns to full color near the end of the Psalm. Near the end, as the video turns to color, the band begins to introduce our special music that fits the theme of the Psalm – TIME IS SHORT; USE IT WISELY.

We chose a Ben Rechtor song called “Like The World Is Going To End” to connect with our Ps. 90 reading. Behind the band, we built a video with some of the lyrics highlighted behind. We used ProPresenter to work with Ableton to trigger both video and click track for the band…  Here’s a link to view:



1.  Mash Ups can double impact of songs if used well. They can also provide humor.

2.  Contrast of stark/black and white to cheerful song and color can impact the heart.


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At The Movies Summer Series…

IMG_8735So the At The Movies series has become a popular direction for many churches and often finds itself into the summer months. We originally have done this series under the heading “God on Film”, but shifted a few years ago to the At The Movies branding. This year we did a presentation shift as well that was a bit risky for us, but turned out to be a huge win.

We made the decision to pre-shoot and pre-produce each of the five weeks of this series by having our communicators in a studio setting and then splicing the selected clips into each location in the message. This eliminated the live speaker on stage and everything was done on our large center roll down screen.

Our reasons for doing this were:

1/ Our senior pastor and main communicator was out for 12 weeks over the summer for a planned sabbatical. However, because he was able to shoot these prior to departure, he was the communicator for three of the weeks. This was a win!

2/ We also wanted to experiment with using video for our messages at our Windmill campus. We had not done this in our main am services at this, our original and largest campus. to introduce this as an option was important to us. However, we were not completely sure how it would “play.”

It played well. Very well. The momentum from weeks one (attendance up over 800 year over year) carried through all five weeks of the series. It was a momentum and attendance builder during a time of year where we normally begin to slow down.

We added some features like popcorn and a photo area in the lobby, but did not go overboard.  However, each time the lights dimmed and the movie soundtrack began to play, people were completely immersed.

Here are the movies we did this summer:

  • Hidden Figures
  • The Greatest Showman
  • The Impossible
  • UP
  • Rudy

Because of copy-write restrictions, we were not able to play these live on our stream or post on our Vimeo on-demand account.  In leu, we pre-recorded some intros and outro’s to a “best off” series that we replayed during the message portion online.  It was interesting because our online viewing was cut in half, but our physical on campus attendance was way up. It is causing us to have conversations around occasional “scarcity” series that encourage people to actually show up physically.

We also added a variety of features and special music to accompany the movies. One example, we had a solo pianist playing UP theme music as our walk in during that week.


Great series. Momentum builder. Would encourage.

If you would like resources for this series, please email .

Circles … and more Circles


Stage Design is an often overlooked, but important element to set tone and add to the worship experience. Philosophically at The Crossing, we have moved away from the “themed” stage sets and do more intense sets on a less frequent basis. In other words, we go big and then leave it in place for a longer period of time.

Normally this happens as we head towards big weekends like Easter. That is the case with our current set.

Our process has evolved and become much more complex in all the moving parts.

Basic Stage Set Process (From Concept To Execution)

  1. Idea and Concept Conversation (6-8 weeks prior)
  2. Conceptual Plan Plan Drawn (6 weeks prior)
  3. Tech Leads Contribute and Weigh In (lighting, video, audio, music) 
  4. Plan finalized.
  5. Material List Compiled and Ordered (4 weeks prior)
  6. Pre-work/fabrication (if needed 2-3 weeks prior)
  7. Stage Strike (1 week prior)
  8. On site Fabrication (1-2 weeks prior)
  9. Set Install (Monday- Tuesday week of)
  10. Lighting Install (Wed week of)
  11. Audio / Music Reset (Wed/Thurs week of)

We are currently in projection mode which means we love the ability to use our high lumens center projector to environmentally project on areas of our set. As well our feeling was it was time to go circles. Yes, circles. So that’s where the concept came from.

One Note: Two years ago we were “gifted” two oval wide format screens from a local trade show. We affectionately call it “The Womb” because when hung by motors and lowered to the stage deck it creates a surround video feel. Our decision was again to use this and to be able to motor up and down depending upon elements of the service.


(This image shows the screen in the down position)

Here are the early concept drawings:

Center Lit Panels - Womb screen down.png Center Lit Panels - Womb screen up.png


  • The colors correspond to the surfaces that would be added to each ring. Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 3.16.44 PM.png
  • The white circles were designed for projection to carry our center screen projection onto those outliers via Propresenter and masking. However, you will see in the finished pics that during the install we made the decision to move those rings underneath the screen when it was in the raised position.
  • What we called “Art Piece” are down stage left and right, are constructed with bases and sit on the stage deck.
  • Our lighting team designed a system that used cat5 to run control power from four central brains to each of the circle systems. This allowed separate control of each ring and simplified that cable runs tremendously. Yes, there were still tons of cables but were minimized.


  • A “fireman” / welder in our church took on the task of welding each set piece together. This was done over a number of days and then delivered to the church.

rings3.jpg(Stage Art Pieces)


Once they arrived on site, a large team of volunteers painstakingly began the process of adding both the specific surface as well as the led tape. This was a slow go as the steel did not receive the LED adhesive well. 3-4 days later…mission accomplished. This was completed the week prior to installation and all of the leds were tested while on the ground.


And then the install began.

We were VERY pleased with the final result.







  • The larger and more complex the set project, the more time and people you need to execute. Be prepared.
  • We struck our previous stage a week ahead of when we needed access. This gave us margin to finalize our fabrication and begin install immediately the week of without having to navigate the previous set. Small thing… but huge to us.
  • There are people within your church who WANT, NEED, and CAN contribute to projects like this. And most of them have skills that normally will not be used in a church. They may even feel like their gifts are not relevant. Guess what? They are. We used our welding dude and our electrician dude (to solve our LED challenge).
  • Even with foresight, a concept and pre-work, there will be shifts that need to happen on the fly. Be prepared to make those changes as they WILL happen no matter what in order for the set to be most effective.

“Mom is the Bomb”… Mother’s Day

momcover.jpgAlways a big day on a typical church calendar, it’s essential that we don’t ignore the power of this holiday to leverage the impact. And it’s always a significant thing to honor and celebrate the ladies. Let’s speak to the cynical…

It’s easy to view this weekend and grab hold of the cynical. Do so at your own risk. This is one of those moments that if you “take a stand” or choose to avoid the significance of the day, you will miss an opportunity. So let’s not miss it.

Our theme this year came together rather late in our process. We spotted some inspiration at our local “lush” store and went with the “bomb” branding. All of it came together within a few hours.

  1. My Mom’s The Bomb branding and invites. We wanted to give everyone a heads up to actually use the day to invite mom. So our graphics team quickly developed a look and we went to print in time for the prior Sunday.
  2. Social media channels were all fired up to capture this day and promote leading up.
  3. Our awesome Admin found a bath bomb distributor and within a short time we had 2500 bath bombs with custom labels shipped to us to arrive in prior of time.
  4. Photo areas are not unique. However, we designed signs specific to our theme and choose color schemes to match.


Bonus: These photos were then quickly turned into a background loop that was used in the performance of the Meghan Trainor song, “Mom is the Bomb”. People loved the photos and loved seeing themselves up on the big screen. Our team definitely had to scramble to create the loop in time for the moment prior to our first service.  It was worth all the effort.

The day was a win overall and all the elements seamlessly worked together.

We see these “big” days as opportunity, not a burden. Lean in and it can build some momentum for your weekends.


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Grabbing The Heart…

In the midst of our “Explicit Lyrics” series through the Song of Solomon we wanted to highlight the power and celebrate marriages. We know they are not “perfect”, but we felt that song grabbed the element that we wanted to highlight.

So we scrambled, found some different couples and highlighted them throughout the song. This was a technical challenge as we currently have a curved screen that we call “The Womb” which is awesome but difficult to format due to it’s wide format.

So we had to keep that in mind as we shot the actual video moments with our couples and their photos. In order to execute it, we went old school and literally used gaff tape to outline the viewable area on our viewfinder. We then made sure that our couples and their families held the photo and were framed accordingly.

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We double checked this by literally broadcasting live onto our center screen as we recorded each of these individuals. And it turned out well. What a cool moment!

“Perfect” sung by Sam Hancock for our Explicit Lyrics series through the Song of Solomon at The Crossing church in Las Vegas

by Powell Sullivan
© 2017 Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Song used with Permission CCS License #9072

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