All posts tagged plant

Ten Years In Creative Ministry Taught Me This

TheCreativePastor.com – Ten Years In Creative Ministry Taught Me This

Having spent over ten years serving the Church through creativity, I’ve learned a few things. Whether through projection, audio, lighting, marketing, print, branding, web, or service planning, I’ve faced many hits and misses over the years that have shaped me into the creative pastor that I am today. But, as I stand back and assess my journey over this time, one truth stands out to me.

As you can imagine, I have my share of horror stories from over 500 Sundays.

I remember a service back in the day where I used my personal laptop to run our PowerPoint (yes, I said PowerPoint) and a screensaver full of pictures of my friends filled our church’s projector during the sermon. And you think your lead pastor has it out for you! ;)

I can remember being right in the middle of one of the most heartfelt messages I’ve ever heard and when the pastor called on a video to be played ……..cricket…cricket…….. something went wrong and despite a LOT of prayer, that video never played.

I’ve made major typos in bulletins, designed graphics that looked hideous, let cringe-worthy feedback through sound systems, and tried many ideas that simply didn’t work.

But, while it’s fun to look back and laugh at these kind of things, it’s not the mistakes that you should remember over the long haul. You must hold onto the wins.

This week, I travelled to Baltimore, MD to a church where I worked full-time for five years. My wife and I had made the trip for a funeral and it had been over a year since we’d been there. While we certainly experienced the tears of the occasion, there was a lot of joy found in the reunion we had with members of the congregation.

I was able to connect with so many people that I had served in that ministry and I was incredibly blessed by their genuine excitement to see us. After many hugs, stories, and laughs, I felt like God was using this time to remind me of a simple truth.

Ministry is about people.

This time of reunion reminded me that all of the hard work that I had given in my time serving there wasn’t about making perfect ProPresenter slides or a compelling brand. It was about ministering to them.

Our wins in creative ministry should always come back to changing peoples’ lives.

Did we successfully bring people a little bit closer to Jesus? Did you help people experience the wonder of the Gospel? Did we use the creative resources God gave us to minister to His children? Did you invest in volunteers who served with you? Did you, like a good pastor, cater your “message” to minister to the unique group of people that He’s entrusted you with?

Over these ten years, I’ve seen the things that I thought were so important fade away. Videos come and go. Logos get redesigned. Services are forgotten. While we should certainly strive to give both God and our congregations our best, we must not forget what is truly important. It’s peoples’ lives that matter for eternity.

Creative ministry, like all ministry, is about the people.

Small Improvements, Big Results

TheCreativePastor.com – Small Improvements, Big Results

One of the biggest traps that we can fall into is believing that progress can only be accomplished through huge projects or complete overhauls. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, I would argue that one of the best ways to move your organization forward is with small, consistent improvements.

I serve in a brand new church plant that’s only six weeks old at the time of this being written. Although we are only a few services in, this is a principle that I’ve had to remind myself of constantly.

Whether your church is a few weeks old or has been around for a hundred years, there is always room to improve your Sunday services.

It can be easy to get discouraged that any change to make things better is out of reach due to lack of time, money, or other resources. But we’re better than that. God has equipped us for the exact season that we’re in. We simply have to embrace where we are and make the improvements that we can make.

Last week, rather than wallowing in my pile of can’ts, I sought to make small improvements in areas all around our church that would make a noticeable impact on Sunday. Some were technical. Some were practical. All were creative.

  • We created what I call “Pinterest-y” themed centerpieces in our coffee area.
  • We used pumpkin spice air freshener all around our building rather than our traditional scent.
  • We changed our lobby/pre-service playlist to a more spirited, hipster vibe. Listen to it here.
  • We updated the design of our announcement slides.
  • We changed up our stage lighting to include more colors.
  • We started using a new set of motion backgrounds for our songs.
  • We changed our order of service to include a fun, warm opening from one of our pastors.
  • We took more photos on Sunday morning of real people in our church for social media.

Announcement Slide

All of these were relatively easy to accomplish, but made a huge impact on Sunday. People really took notice of the changes and I can honestly say that it was our best service yet.

You’ll also notice that I said we changed, we used, we started…

That’s because I got other people involved on these small projects. Even when it was in the smallest capacity you can imagine. But do you know what happened when these projects turned out to be a success? We celebrated our victory.

Getting people involved in small, tangible improvements is the easiest way to keep your church progressing and your volunteers smiling.

It’s a win-win.

So, what can you do this week to make your church better? Who can you get involved to help you do this? Creative Ministry is more than what happens in the tech booth. Don’t be afraid to use your creativity all around your church.

Small improvements make a big difference.

How A Simple Style Guide Can Change Everything

How A Simple Style Guide Can Change Everything

I’ve always been a great doer. I’ve never had a problem putting in the long, hard hours to make our church’s media, website, print, or whatever else look great. But, as I’ve set out to be a leader, I’ve struggled with giving things away. Lately, this side of me has began to rear its ugly head.

You see, our new church plant is filled with amazing, fully-capable leaders. It’s incredible, really. Our Launch Team is made up of the kind of leaders that pastors dream of having in their churches. We don’t just have musicians, we have some of the best musicians that I know. We don’t just have administrators or teachers or creatives. We have leaders who spend their spare time helping other ministries improve. We’re not perfect, but I can easily say that we are incredibly blessed by the team that God has given us.

This amazing blessing of these fully-capable volunteers has brought a unique challenge for me. If I want this awesome team to stick around, I’ve got to stop being a doer and focus on being their leader. This means that I’ve got to get my hands off of projects and spend my energy equipping others to get their hands dirty. Quite honestly, this does not come easy for me. I’ve spent years in the habit of handling things myself without letting others in. This has led to several hard lessons in this season of getting established in this new organizational structure.

A few weeks ago, I requested for one of our church’s volunteers, a local photographer, to snap photos at one of our events. I went about this in pretty much all the wrong ways. I asked him to do it very last minute and never even discussed what I was looking for. The worst part? I got frustrated when his photos didn’t align with the vision I had for the project. But, wait. How could I be upset with him for not meeting expectations that had never been communicated to him? I then realized that he wasn’t the problem. I was.

So, before our next event, I requested a meeting with him where I apologized for how I had handled the previous project. I then presented to him a PDF style guide that I had created that thoroughly laid out exactly what I was looking for in his photos. This simple guide (that only took about an hour to create) communicated all of the vision that I had locked away in my head and made it clear for him to follow.

Guess what? That changed everything. Not only was our relationship strengthened, but his photos at our next event blew me away. Was he able to capture hundreds of perfect moments in that short amount of time? Of course not. But he submitted just enough photos to show me that he took my style guide to heart. He had caught the vision. More importantly, I had communicated a plan, took my “doer” hands away, and allowed him to work in his area of passion.

Moving forward, I will be creating more of these style guides for many areas that fall under my creative department. God has given me a big vision for our church and I’m learning that it’s much greater than me. To accomplish what He has called me to do, I must do less and lead more.

Piedmont Chapel Photography Style Guide - Page 1Piedmont Chapel Photography Style Guide - Page 3 Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 12.27.15 AM

Have you ever created a style guide for your volunteers?

Three Essential Tips For Worship/Media Leaders

TCP-Three_Essential_Tips_For_Worship_Media_Leaders

Today’s post is from my good friend, Josh White. He is a worship leader, creative thinker, and ministry blogger based out of Las Vegas, NV. For more great posts by him, check out his website here.

In today’s church, a large portion of the Sunday morning experience is made possible by the collaboration of two teams – the worship team and media team. While their jobs have similar goals, the relationship between these two groups can often be shaky. It doesn’t help that most churches these days are no longer looking for just a Worship Pastor. Instead, they are looking for a Worship Pastor who can do video, graphic design, audio mixing, production, and everything in between. Because these two teams can be so different, leading them both can be really challenging.

Here are 3 things that have helped me in my journey of leading both of these ministries at my church:

1. Create A Family, Not A Group of Volunteers

One of the biggest mistakes any ministry can make is keeping their volunteers just that – volunteers. I have pretty high standards for people who want to get involved in our music and media ministry. First, they have to understand how much time they’re going to have to put in. They’ll have to be at church an extra night and come two hours early on Sunday mornings. Second, I need to feel like they can become part of our family…and usually those people who want to put in the time have no problem fitting in with our team. My music and media teams are all friends. We hang out together at least 30 minutes after every practice. We laugh together, we eat together, we pray together, and we cry together. This has created such a strong relationship that our chemistry from the production booth to the on-stage musicians is incredibly strong. So much so that they have told me they can sense where I’m about to take the worship service next when I’m leading. Get rid of your volunteers – create a family.

2. You Cannot Make Your Job Your Hobby

This is a big issue with new worship and media leaders coming up today – and I’m one of them. We’ve made our passions our hobbies, and then made them into a paid position. I’m not saying this is bad (it’s exactly what I did), but being fully engaged every minute of your life with one or two particular subjects is a call for total destruction. When you go home, keep your laptop closed. Turn on that nifty “Do Not Disturb” button on your phone, go get a workout in, read a book (that’s not about your job), or spend some time with your family. Having an even balance is only going to help you produce better worship sets and media presentations.

3. Start With The Basics, Then Grow

I can remember when I first arrived to the church where I currently lead the worship and media teams. For the first month, I asked my pastor if I could simply observe practices and worship sets. I quickly realized that things in the music and in the media booth were scattered, tense, and not put together. I sat down with each volunteer and let them know that we were going back to the basics  – we stripped everything down and worked from the ground up. At the same time, I let them all know that there was no end goal and that we would always be growing. A year later, our team is now playing with clicks, growing strong in musical talent, and now planning our visual worship ahead of services. Our rehearsal times are even more enjoyable and uplifting. When starting out, consistency is everything, but always, always, always grow with your church culture and your team.

While leading both of these teams can be challenging, these three tips have been huge for us. I’m confident that they will help you produce a bigger, more effective, and spiritual team within your worship and media ministry.

What are some things you have done to help your teams grow? Let us know in the comments below!

My Personal Vendor List For Printing

TCP-My_Personal_Vendor_List_For_Printing
While we may live in a digital age full of screens, physical printing is still a huge part of Creative Ministry. Just as we pour our energy into making our video look great, it’s super important that our printed materials are done in excellence as well. It speaks volumes when people can hold a well-designed printed piece in their hands and take it home with them.

While there are some cases where printing materials in-house will suffice, your best bet for great looking prints will come through using a professional printshop.

Here are the companies I use for all of my print work:

Paper Materials:

hym-bulletin-mockupNextDayFlyers.com – These guys are my #1 online vendor for printing. I’ve had over 100 orders with them and they’ve never let me down. I recommend their business cards, postcards, brochures, and posters. (Tip: Use their 2-4 day option for big savings.) Check them out here.

OvernightPrints.com – While I haven’t used them quite as much as Next Day Flyers, they’ve been good to us in the times we have used them. I recommend their booklets, mini-business cards, and postcards. (Tip: They offer Spot UV for free!) Check them out here.

PSPrint.com – These guys are awesome for custom orders. I’ve ordered custom sized visitor cards from them and everything I’ve ever done with perforated edges. (Tip: It’s easiest to give them a call for custom printing.) Check them out here.

The Printery – This is a local printer that is located less that 10 minutes from my house. We use them quite a bit at our church because it’s easy to drop by and dream up creative projects with their designers. I highly recommend developing a relationship with a printer that’s local to you. While they might cost a little more than online printers, there is great value in having someone close (especially for rush jobs).

Banners/Signs:

sign_drNextDayFlyers.com – These guys have some of the cheapest banners that you’ll find online, while maintaining great quality. I recommend their large vinyl banners and their retractable banner stands. (Tip: You can get a 10×5 banner for only $137.95!) Check them out here.

Displays2Go.com – We’ve been using this company for all of our signs and flags for our church plant. They have the best selection online and their prices are really great. They are also really good for general sign supplies. (Tip: Order in bulk for best prices.) Check them out here.

VistaPrint.com – While they haven’t always had the best reputation, we’ve recently placed two orders of their yard signs and they’ve had great customer service. We use these signs for directional arrows at our events. They have the best price that I could find online and the quality is great. (Tip: Opt out of their cumbersome fiberglass stakes and order a set of these for the same price.) Check them out here.

Apparel:

nsdribbbleRealthread.com – This company is new to me, but they’ve been really great in my first few orders. These are A+ quality t-shirts with top of the line printing, so expect to pay a little more. But, you can be confident that you’re getting a shirt that will become one of your favorites. Check them out here.

CentralScreenPrinting.com – I’ve ordered t-shirts from these guys almost 30 times. If you are looking for a super-affordable option for screen printing, this is the company for you. They are really great folks, but keep in mind that these are cheaper shirts. I always say this is my B+ option. They are perfect for large events and youth groups. (Tip: Give them a call for the best prices and ask for their church discount.) Check them out here.

Promotional Products:

bulletin1_drQualityLogoProducts.com – I’ve used this company several times for items such as pens, Sharpies, tote bags, and mini-frisbees. They have some of the best prices online and have always given me great customer service. Check them out here.

24HourWristbands.com – This is a new company to me, but they have already gone out of their way to take care of our needs and given us excellent customer service. They have some of the cheapest wristbands that you’ll find online and will accept custom artwork when ordering over the phone. Check them out here.

For all of these vendors, always be sure to look online for discount codes or simply ask them for a discount. Out of all of these, we’ve only paid full price with Real Thread.

Need inspiration for printed materials at your church? Check out Church Print Ideas.

Who do you use for your printing? Let us know in the comments below!