5 Resolutions To Kick Off Your Creative Team’s New Year Right

New-Years-Resolutions-Poll-So you want to be more effective at communicating truth this year? You desire to creative compelling environments and worship experiences where people connect with God? Are you tired of the same old last minute ideas? Worn out from standing in the room on weekends wondering how things could be different if you just had a little more time to nail it down?

Well… perhaps there is some resolve you can make with your team to change that in 2016.

Here’s 5 Quick Resolves for 2016:

Consistent Creative Gatherings: Pick a day. Pick a time. Pick a location. Prepare ahead for the gathering. Set it in stone. No, really, deep in concrete. Let your team know that it is a priority and treat it as such. You determine the best time, but we have found the middle of the week to work well. Remember – this is not a logistics meeting, it is about collaborating, planning, dreaming, and wrestling with ideas. Very little actual execution should happen here. That’s for another gathering with the team that owns these elements. This gathering is mine for the moments that God is inspiring within you.

And then each week protect that gathering. Try it for 3 months. 60 minutes minimum, 2 hours maximum. If you’re leading the meeting, come prepared with clear themes and important information on each of the upcoming weekends. And then…create. Let the ideas fly.

Discover the Last 10% : Sometimes we can get lost looking for the big idea or the huge moment. Those are great, but we have found some of our most powerful, poignant moments are just simple enhancements or additions. One of our regular disciplines is to pour over the run sheet for our worship experience and look for where that last 10% can be added. For example, is there a visual additional/enhancement you can make to a worship tune you have sung multiple times? Is there a stage arrangement for a song that can focus the congregation more or signal a change in mood?

Pay attention. Don’t miss those moments. In the hecticness, be aware of these opportunities. Those small shifts can be that last “10%” that takes an ordinary moment and connects it with

Force Your Way Forward : Wherever and whenever your consistent creative gatherings are happening, drive the conversations 4-6 weeks out. And you will have to drive it there. This is not something that will happen naturally. Trust me. You will sit down and have every good intention to get there, but the urgency of what’s next will steer and steal your conversations from the future to the pressing present. 60 minutes later you will walk away wondering what happened.

Each week in our gatherings we are committed to touching on the future. Nothing has to be locked in, in fact, most of the time it isn’t. But as we lay in random ideas we know they are going to continue to be tweaked and changed so it breeds excellence and genuine impact. If you are spending all your time spinning your wheels about the present, resolve to aggressively force the conversation down the road.

Regain Some Perspective: It happens every weekend. You have a call time (show up) for your production team and a volunteer comes rolling in a few minutes late and looking pretty worn out.  You’re irritated, but somehow force a smile as they shuffle to their assigned position for the day so we can make OUR worship experience happen.

What you probably don’t know is that same guy pulled a 10 hr shift the day before. He rolled into his house around 7 pm, perhaps played with his kids for a few minutes, then had a late dinner with his wife, before dozing off on the couch while watching the late SportsCenter. So when his alarm went off at 6:15 am because he had hit “Accept” on Planning Center four weeks prior, he may have been less than enthused. That’s why he’s a few minutes late and crushing a massive coffee to wake up.

It’s OK. Get over it. Before you make that speech about this being MORE important than anything they have done all week…check yourself. Maybe instead of a speech, the best thing you can do at that moment is saunter over to where they are, have a quiet conversation about their week, ask them how they are doing, and affirm them like crazy for being there. And then make a mental note to send them a personal thank you this week with a small gift card enclosed.

It is possible to have High Expectation and Low Aggravation. Your team has lived with these ideas for weeks, crafted the service and thought through every detail. It will take a few moments at least for your key volunteers to get up to speed. Don’t expect them to grab a hold of the big vision for that service immediately. Trust that as it plays out, during your run through or as the first service actually happens, they will embrace it.

You’re welcome.

Before You Create, Critique: Part of the creative process is to always pause and re-visit previous elements, transitions, flow and any other parts of your worship experience. As we press towards, what’s next it can be dangerous to avoid what’s passed. It will be important for this to be an open conversation laced with honesty and covered with grace. This is where the sensitivity of your team or at least individuals on your team can rise to the surface. Don’t let that stop you. It is only through a brutal, thorough evaluation of what you are doing that things can rise to the next level. In conversations with the majority of churches, they tend to evaluate their weekend services from more of a positive perspective than is reality. Their inability to speak candidly about their elements and the execution of them will limit future growth and impact. Perhaps as the new year begins, take some time to evaluate.

One of the best ways to do this is a tool called the Four Helpfuls. Pretty basic. Pretty powerful. Four questions:

  • What is right that needs to be amplified?
  • What is wrong that needs to be fixed?
  • What is missing that needs to be added?
  • What is confused that needs to be clarified?

Once you have populated those answers (and this should take some time), identify the low-hanging fruit. These are basic items that don’t need more discussion, but just need an owner because they can be fixed immediately. From there, evaluate the deeper issues and create a plan to begin to tackle them.

When was the last time you evaluated your weekend services?
What is your greatest fear about asking these questions?
Is evaluation a regular routine in your creative process?How can 2016 look different for your team in this area?


Weekend Rundown: Beginnings (The Story – Chapter 1)

Sunday, September 7th marked The Crossing’s very first week of The Story series–a currently popular sermon series based on the book of the same title, which is essentially an abridged, novel-esque version of the Bible that is easy to understand and study.  As the creative team, our goal is always to effectively and creatively support the theme of the message, and the brainstorming around this particular weekend was no different–the main theme centered around the story of creation, and so we wanted to find an attention-grabbing way for that to be communicated! Keep reading to see if you think we were successful…

Buttermilk…a word that has rarely even come out of my mouth, let alone to be used in the context of…painting?  Fun fact:  a layer of buttermilk is great for turning a clear/see-through surface opaque, and as is often the case in our creative team meetings, a fact that was mysteriously stumbled upon in the quest for a way to make, essentially:  1) a giant, mobile projection screen on stage that could 2) be interacted with during 3) an emotionally-moving, live instrumental piece 4) while being narrated by an inspirational voice over.  Simple!  Once we had established that as “the plan” for the creative element of the service, execution began to take place.  Buttermilk was purchased and tested as “paint”; three 8’x4′ sheets of clear plexiglass were purchased and installed in a custom-built, rolling metal frame (thank You, Lord, for skilled and willing volunteers!); the back-projection of carefully selected time-lapse images of creation was tweaked and practiced to near-perfection; the musical piece (the song “We Will Run” by the band Gungor, including a three minute instrumental overture that’s on one version of the song) was adjusted and precisely timed (as well as expertly rehearsed by our amazing team of volunteer musicians); the voice over was written and recorded to match the projected images, which were brought to life live onstage by a charismatic painter who didn’t mind enduring buttermilk-splatter as we rehearsed the piece over and over.  If this sounds like it was an over-the-top undertaking, that’s because it WAS!  Below are a few links/resources to some of the specific elements of the whole piece; check back soon for links to related posts where I will further break down the process/”secrets” of some of the elements!


Link to a Youtube video of the piece in its entirety:



“We Will Run” by Gungor –  YouTube Video

Order of Service:

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Weekend Rundown: Be Reliable (Man Up – Wk 2)



What a great weekend we had at The Crossing! Our main text for this weekend was 2 Timothy 2. Shane Philip, our senior pastor, talked about the importance of living a life that can be an example for others.

There were a couple creative elements that we used that were very strong. We found a very good video on YouTube that featured Bryan Clay who is the Olympic Gold & Silver Medalist in the Decathlon. This video on YouTube is in 5 different parts. We played 3 of the 5 parts in the service and it made for a great tie into the message. We enjoy being able to use a story at the beginning of the service and followup the story at the end of the message. This video allowed us to end cap the “Message Elements” section of the service to link everything together. The service flow below shows how we did that this weekend.

Bryan Clay YouTube Video

We did a feature song originally performed by Rascal Flatts called “Stand.”  This was a great song that was an awesome addition to the service.

Stand – Rascal Flatts YouTube Video

Stand Chart – Stand (Rascal Flatts) – B

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Stage Set: Splatter Backdrops




We used this set twice in our former auditorium and remade it so we could use it again in the new auditorium. It is a great go to set. It is easy to make but also easy to hang and it is small enough it can be folded up and stored for a later use. We love the way they backdrops reflect the light and give a cool look.

The set is relatively easy to make. We got a couple rolls of Landscape Fabric at Home Depot and some white paint. You literally go outside (make sure you are in a spot where it isn’t a problem if paint goes everywhere) and just use brushes to throw paint all over the fabric. We made 12 backdrops that were about 20ft. and used 5 gallons of white paint and about 2 gallons of gray paint. However, we put a little too much paint on some of the backdrops.

Make sure to give the drops plenty of time to dry. We learned this the hard way when we brought them inside too soon and the paint had seeped through the holes on the fabric and we ended up scrubbing the stage for 2 hours! Another mistake we made was painting on rocks and the paint also seeped through and thousands of rocks had to be scraped off the back. Our recommendation is to use plastic underneath no matter where you paint to avoid this from happening.

We put poles in the top of the fabric and use an office stapler to make the backdrops hang like a curtain and have a really nice finished look — use lots of staples!

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Featured Song: Awake My Soul (w/ Spoken Word)

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 8.50.38 AMDuring “Truth is Stranger Than Fiction” we spent a week on the Valley of the Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37. We decided to do rendition of “Awake My Soul” by Chris Tomlin and Lecrae with the spoken word and it turned out great! We were able to do this song pretty much as it was done on the recording and it was a very cool element.

We had several conversations about the placement of this song in the service, whether pre-message or post. With the direction that the message it fit really well content wise to go post message, so that it what we did. However, it did not have the feel that we wanted it to have at the end of the message and in hindsight we would have placed the song pre message.

Chart – Awake My Soul – G

Awake My Soul @ The Crossing

You Tube Video


Featured Song: Sad

For a few days we tossed around the thought of doing a rendition of “Sad” by Maroon 5 for the first week of our Man Up series – Be Bold, based in 2 Timothy 1. We ended up putting the song back in the idea hopper because it did not quite fit the message and set a different mood than we wanted for that day.

Our Music Director changed a couple  words in the chorus to help it fit better for a church context.

We thought we would include this, even though we didn’t end up using it, in case it works better in your context or it sparks another idea.

Chart – Sad – G

Youtube Video – Original Song