All posts tagged service

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.

9 Easy Ideas For A Memorable Christmas Service

TheCreativePastor.com – 9 Easy Ideas For A Memorable Christmas Service

The Christmas season is such a unique time of the year for ministry. Not only do studies show that more people are likely to fill your pews in this time, but that their hearts are much more conditioned to receive a message. Because of this, it’s common to see churches everywhere working diligently in preparation for the coming crowds at their Christmas service.

As your church prepares for this big day of celebrating the birth of our Savior and sharing the hope found in Him, I’ve come up with nine easy ideas to make your Christmas service memorable. I selected each of these to share with you from personal victories. I’ve seen these ideas work wonders and I know they’ll do the same for you. Check them out and let me know which are your favorites in the comments below!

1. Create An Exciting Christmas Playlist

One of the easiest ways to improve an atmosphere is with the music playing in the background. With a Spotify account in your tool belt, you’re equipped to make an awesome playlist that really sets the tone for your Christmas services. This works great in your lobby, before service, and as people exit. For our church’s “How To Survive The Holidays” series this month, we went with a fun playlist, but I’ve used other lists similar to this in the past.

2. Add Some Holiday Tastes And Smells

Imagine taking a pan of fresh baked Christmas cookies out of the oven and taking that first bite. Or imagine decorating a fresh, live Christmas tree. I’d be willing to bet that tastes and smells immediately came to mind as you read this. Scents and tastes provide such powerful memories for us. Around Christmas time, our church strategically sprays holiday themed air freshener all around our facility 15 minutes before our guests arrive for a noticeable scent. I also love bringing in fresh baked cookies and hot cocoa for the day. Even offering peppermint syrup with your normal coffee is a plus.

3. Create A Holiday Photo Booth

Whether it’s a simple DIY backdrop made of wrapping paper or a custom printed banner, this is a fun way to encourage guests to pause and snap a photo. If you have a willing photographer on your team, you can even capture these photos and share them on your church’s social media pages. Photo booths are an easy win that create lasting memories and they equip guests to share their experience with others.

4. Use A Roll Up Banner To Mark The Occasion

Roll-up banners not only look great in your church’s lobby, they are an awesome way to celebrate special events. I’ve been ordering this affordable banner for our church and have been extremely impressed with the quality. Plus, it seems huge compared to other roll ups that I’ve ordered in the past. Use one of these banners to showcase your sermon artwork for the day or simply a “Merry Christmas from Your Church” message as people enter your facility.

5. Host A Fun Christmas Poll On Social Media

PC-Social_Quotes-Set_4-39On Sunday, I had some fun with our congregation as I welcomed everyone to our service. Using this graphic, I polled our audience on their favorite Christmas movie by asking them to vote by commenting on this same image on our church’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Using their smartphones, they casted their votes and we revealed the results later in our service. People loved it! It was an easy way to bring some interactivity to our service and we boosted this post on Facebook so that all of their friends would see their involvement.

6. Add Some Christmas Songs To Your Setlist

Not only can Christmas songs bring some excitement to your services, but they can bring some well-appreciated familiarity for guests. Every year, popular artists inside and out of the Christian music genre release updated versions of these classic favorites. There is also an extremely large number of these songs available on MultiTracks.com. Simply adding one or two to your setlist may be just the thing you need for a memorable day.

7. Use Christmas Motion Backgrounds

Motion backgrounds are a great way to make your time of singing more engaging. Because there are so many producers these days, there is no shortage of variety. I recommend choosing motions that not only look good, but complement the overall theme of your service. For example, our large Christmas service on the 21st has a warm, rustic theme centered around the nativity. A fast-paced, red motion with snow fall wouldn’t work well with this theme, but a slow, amber bokeh motion would fit right in.

8. Use A Real-Life Nativity Photo For Sermon Art

lightstock-56933-baby-jesus-in-the-manger--3I’ve been truly impressed by the nativity photos at Lightstock and chose to use one of them in my own sermon artwork for Piedmont Chapel. For a lot of people, their view of Christ’s birth is wrapped up in years of tiny, porcelain nativity scenes or glowing plastic decorations in front of peoples’ homes. Using real-life imagery has a way of reminding us that this miracle truly happened.

9. Use An Out of the Box Sermon Illustration

One of the easiest ways to make your Sunday sermons memorable is by using an illustration to make your point. The use of a simple prop, photo, or video can make a massive difference on the retention rate of your audience. Simple, spoken word sermons come and go, but people hold on to messages that use a visual aid for years.

Do you have any other ideas that you’d add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!

Five Creative Ministry Tips: 12/04/2014

TCP-Five_Creative_Ministry_Tips-12_04_14

Every week, we’re excited to share a five-pack of useful tips for those serving in creative ministry! Each Thursday, we post practical advice on topics such as media, social networking, design, and marketing. While these tips may be simple, they have the potential to radically improve your church. These images are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram ready, so help us spread the word by sharing them with your followers!


Lyric transitions should always match the tempo of your song, while background transitions should remain slow. Make your social media pages a regular part of stage communication on Sundays, so that people will make them a regular part of their schedule during the week.
When mixing fonts, remember that opposites attract. Serif + sans serif. Fat + skinny. Uppercase + lowercase. Elaborate + simple. It can be easy to get caught up in making your Christmas services bigger and better each year. Sometimes it's best to slow down and keep it simple. Your team is at its best when everyone is connected to God and each other. This often requires more practice than anything else.

Like these photos? Get them here: Photo 1Photo 2Photo 3Photo 4Photo 5

Six Great Mini-Movies For Thanksgiving Sunday

Six Great Mini-Movies For Thanksgiving Sunday

Thanksgiving Sunday is almost here and these mini-movies will work perfect in your services. Because of all the busyness, cooking, and shopping, it’s easy for this holiday to pass right by without us really taking time to thank God for our many blessings. I’ve found that showing mini-movies like these is the perfect way to inspire your congregation to pause and reflect on the subject.

These are my personal favorites from the large collection over at WorshipHouse. Check them out and tell us in the comments below which is your favorite! Or, if you have another that you’d recommend, let us know!


You can purchase “Give Thanks Worship Intro” here.


You can purchase “Thankful People” here.


You can purchase “A Prayer of Thanksgiving” here.


You can purchase “Messy Blessings” here.


You can purchase “The Cure” here.


You can purchase “Give Thanks” here.

5 Things To Remember When Service Goes South

TheCreativePastor.com – 5 Things To Remember When Service Goes South

We’ve all been there.

You plan all week for Sunday’s service to be an incredible experience. Your worship team rehearses their songs. Your pastor writes a carefully thought-out message. Your media team prepares lyrics, backgrounds, and sermon slides.

But what happens when, despite all of this preparation, your Sunday service doesn’t go as planned? What do you do when mistakes happen? What do you do when your service goes south?

On Sunday, I faced this head on. While each of our teams had done their homework during the week, something just wasn’t clicking for us. Several production volunteers called out sick last minute. We had a few issues with our sound equipment. The computer running our click track acted buggy throughout the entire worship set. Despite going through two proofreaders, we had a major typo in our sermon slides. (And yes, it was displayed on the screen for all of our audience to see.)

And, in what might be added to the list of most horrifying theater church stories, the audio from the movie previews started playing……mid-sermon.

As you can imagine, at the conclusion of service, I was feeling extremely discouraged.

It was a bad day. Except…I found out that it really wasn’t.

Shortly after service, a first time guest left this message on our church’s Facebook:

I have to say, for the first time in my life I actually heard God speak to me today. I needed that more than anything. Thank you for your wonderful message today!

Only a few moments later, I received word that five people had marked on their connect card that they had made decisions for Christ in that service.

It was then that I was reminded that we play only a small part in peoples’ lives being changed on Sundays. While we seek to create experiences that point people towards God, it’s still ultimately Him who touches hearts.

I walked away from this experience being confident in five things. Not only will I remember them the next time Sunday doesn’t go quite as planned, but I encourage you to do the same.

1. It’s Never As Bad As You Imagine

While you know and understand all of the intricate details of your service, most of your congregation doesn’t. You may walk away with a list of ten mistakes, while your audience only really noticed one or two.

2. It Happens To Everyone

Everyone has bad days. Everyone. I’ve visited some of the largest, fastest growing churches in America and witnessed major fumbles. Mistakes are a part of life. You’re in good company.

3. You’re Better Than You Feel Right Now

When we make mistakes, we tend to start thinking irrationally. We immediately feel embarrassed and our insecurities begin to kick in. It’s important to remember that you’re still awesome at what you do. Just because you have a bad Sunday doesn’t mean you have a bad team. Or church. Or life.

4. Great Things Can Still Happen

Despite our many fumbles, amazing things still happened in that service. People connected with God in a big way. That’s what’s important. What positives can you find in your service that didn’t go exactly as planned? Were lives impacted? Did people hear about Jesus? Was there still life-giving community?

5. Next Sunday Is Coming

When you have a service that goes south, you have two options. You can wallow in your failure and stay where you’re at OR you can pick yourself up and try again. Use each of your mistakes as a tangible way to make improvement. Next Sunday, your audience will be back. Will you make the same mistakes again?