All posts tagged sunday

5 Apps I Recommend For Every Creative Ministry

Five Apps I'd Recommend For Every Creative Ministry

I don’t know what I would do without my iPhone.

I use it in every area of my life and Creative Ministry is no different. Having powerful tools readily available in my pocket makes all the difference in productivity.

Of course, I use the obvious apps that many of you do. I use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for my social media. I listen to music with Spotify and Apple’s app for podcasts. I’ll even admit to being slightly addicted to the Roller Coaster Tycoon game.

Beyond the everyday downloads, there are few apps that are extremely helpful for Creative Ministry.

I use these tools both on Sunday mornings as I lead our Production Team and during the week for various creative tasks.

1. Planning Center Online

Planning Center OnlineLast week, I posted a tweet expressing my love for Planning Center along with the question “Do you use PCO?”

There was a massive response.

In fact, there was so much buzz happening on Twitter from my post that the PCO staff sent me a message thanking me for the publicity. A lot of churches use it.

While integrating this system into your church can be a little overwhelming, I don’t know where our church would be without it. I use the app throughout the week for planning our services and scheduling our volunteers. On Sunday mornings, I use it as a digital order of service to keep us on track.

With this app, you never have to go searching through emails to find who’s running ProPresenter this week or which songs your worship team singing. It’s all in one organized place.

2. GroupMe

GroupMeI was first introduced to this app when I trained with the production teams at Church of the Highlands and Elevation Church.

To be honest, I didn’t see the true value when they first recommended it to me. It took me using it at our church to fully understand.

Once I saw that I could keep all of our team’s communication in one place, I was hooked.

Our church’s staff uses a group message for all of our basic communications to each other, each ministry team (production, kids, connect) uses it to keep volunteers aware of what’s coming up on Sunday, and we’re able to communicate last-minute changes to each team during service.

This app has also been useful for our kid’s ministry to communicate nursery alerts to our ProPresenter operator.

3. Buffer

BufferMore than an app, Buffer is a total package for all things social media in our church. 

Rather than individually creating posts on all of our various social networks, we are able to use this one central app to get the word out.

Social media for your church doesn’t have to be difficult. This app gives professional results with ease.

I use Buffer to schedule all of our social posts for the month in advance, then simply maintain on the go with the app.

I made the switch from the similar app, HootSuite, a few months ago and haven’t looked back.

Plus, it also comes in handy that we’re able to post to networks like Google+ without actually having to have those apps on our devices. ;)

4. Latergramme

LatergrammeThe only downside to social media managers like Buffer is that they don’t include Instagram.

If I was granted three wishes from a magic genie, one of them would be for Instagram integration into Buffer.

Unfortunately, that’s just not the case.

The closest thing to scheduled Instagram posts is this awesome app, Latergramme. It allows you to pre-write your text and schedule your IG photos so that when it’s time to post, you’re notified on your phone. With just a few taps and mere seconds, you can move from this app into Instagram and post your image.

Would it be great if there was an easier way? Yes.

Is this the easiest thing currently available? Definitely.

5. Repost

RepostOne of the best ways to share with the world what God is doing in your church is by posting photos on social media. 

Unfortunately, not every church has professional photographers who are willing to volunteer on Sundays.

But, you do have a congregation full of people who have phones in their pockets with high-quality cameras.

Encourage your church family to take photos on Sunday mornings and share them on their social networks using your church’s hashtag.

Then, you can use the handy app, Repost, to share their photos on your church’s networks.

Not only does it allow your church to have great photos from your services, but it gets your congregation excited to share their Sunday experience with their friends.

What About You?

What are your favorite and most useful apps that you use in Creative Ministry?

Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter at @CreativePastor!

My Production Team Training Guide

My Production Team Training Guide

This season has been so exciting as we’re getting closer and closer to the launch of our new church. Very exciting…but also very BUSY as we’ve been preparing all of the little details that go into a new church plant. One of the areas where I have been focused most in these past few weeks has been assembling a group of volunteers for our Production Team. After a season of recruiting and technical training, I gathered all of them together this week for a time of discussing vision, guidelines, Sunday schedule, and communication paths for our team. Today, I thought I’d share with you document that we created for this training.

Some things to keep in mind:

•  Page 1-4 were used strictly for Production, but last two pages were used across all teams.
•  We have church in a movie theater, so our setup starts early.
•  “Team Chapel” serves as both an abridged dress rehearsal, as well as a place for volunteers who work in other areas (Kids, Parking) to enjoy a Sunday service.
•  “Team Cafe” is an area where volunteers are served breakfast each week and connect with others.
•  We use Planning Center Online for all of our team and service scheduling.
•  We use GroupMe for basic communication during the week and on Sunday mornings.

Feel free to use this document in your church. You can download a PDF of this training guide here.

Piedmont Chapel - Production Team Training Guide

Piedmont Chapel - Production Team Training Guide

Piedmont Chapel - Production Team Training Guide

Piedmont Chapel - Production Team Training Guide

Piedmont Chapel - Production Team Training Guide

Piedmont Chapel - Production Team Training Guide

Does your church have a document like this for your Production Team or just volunteers in general? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter at @CreativePastor!

Five Creative Ministry Tips: 8/14/2014

5 Creative Ministry Tips - August 14th, 2014

#CrtvMinTip’s are back! 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!

A great way to create unity between your on-screen content and printed materials is to use the same font for your lyrics as your bulletin. Lead pastors, your personal social media accounts are just as important as your church's. They allow your influence to spread outside of Sunday.Avoid filling your entire screen with lyrics or scripture. Stick to 3-4 lines and leave breathing room for your text. Facebook is an incredible tool for reaching your community. But, just like any other outreach, it costs money. Don't be afraid to spend money to reach people. Be flexible on Sundays. Changes are going to happen in live production. Approach them with open-mindedness, calmness, and professionalism.

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

The Right Way To Handle Church Media Fumbles

The Right Way To Handle Church Media Fumbles

I’m one of those weird people who rarely dream at night. Seriously – we’re talking nearly once every six months here. I’ll often hear my friends telling funny stories of the silly circumstances that their subconscious cooked up in their dreams. Sometimes they’ll even share their eerie nightmares that followed a late dinner of Chinese takeout. But, that’s not me.

On the rare occasion that my subconscious constructs a story that plays out as I sleep, it’s usually about a church media fumble. That’s right. I have nightmares about things going wrong on Sunday morning with production.

It may be a video freezing in the middle of playback, a click track skipping, or accidentally pressing the Live Video button in ProPresenter (which then defaults to the webcam and shows my embarrassed face to the entire audience).

Chills…

As I examine these nightmares, one thing stands out to me about myself. I can get WAYYYY too focused on my media being flawless. Church media shouldn’t be about the pursuit of perfection, but about building a team that uses their talents to enhance Sunday services for others. Sure, it’s okay to strive for error-less services. But, when is the last time you kept your “scorecard” on your team’s wins, rather than how many mistakes you made in a service?

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to shadow the production team at the Auburn campus of Church of the Highlands. It was there that I first caught a glimpse of a healthy way to approach mistakes in live production. On this particular weekend, they were experiencing a lot of heavy rainfall and it was slowing down their internet connection quite a bit. A solid connection is vital to the flow of their services because they are an extension site that projects a live video feed from their main campus in Birmingham.

In the three services that I joined them for that Sunday, they experienced trouble with the live feed in each service. To make matters worse, the one safety net that they have established for this, a hard drive with a recording of the earlier service, was malfunctioning for the first time in campus history. Let me be clear here—I would have been freaking out.

In the midst of all of these chaotic circumstances, their team kept level heads. While they may not have been able to prevent some problems, they worked hard to make all of the areas that they could control right. In fact, to sit back and watch their team come together in those moments was really incredible. Rather than cussin’ and fussin’ as it’s easy to do in the heat of those moments, they communicated calmly and executed their tasks with precision. When mistakes were made, they quickly picked themselves up and encouraged each other to keep moving forward. In a day filled with stress, I even saw them highfiving each other when things would go right.

Have you ever celebrated what went right with your media on Sunday morning?

At the conclusion of my shadowing, I spent a few minutes with the team’s leader, Marc Johnson. He shared with me a very simple, but profound truth. Their production booth is located in a very visible area in the back of their auditorium. If their team was to outwardly express whenever things were going wrong, everyone in the room would take notice. Not only is the worship team and campus pastor looking directly to them, but the entire audience can see them. If they will keep a level head when things are going wrong, everyone else will, too.

He also shared with me a great silver lining of publicly making fumbles. When everything is going great with production, potential volunteers assume they aren’t needed. Sometimes the smallest mistakes on a Sunday morning will prompt newcomers that help is needed and they’ll make a move to start volunteering. While it’s never intentional that a mistake is made, this has inspired many people to get involved in his time there. (They have a current rotation of around 40 production volunteers.)

Overall, you must realize that perfection is impossible. What’s important is that you always work to nurture an atmosphere of excellence, while still providing the grace necessary to make fumbles and learn from them.

Learn from your mistakes. Be proud of your accomplishments. More than anything else, understand the importance of what you do for the Kingdom.

How To Create Big Stages With Small Budgets

TCP-Big_Stages_Small_Money

We’ve all seen them. The sets and stages at larger churches with bigger budgets that make your mouth drop. You get super excited about creating something similar on your stage, only to find out that the design you’re trying to recreate costs more than your entire annual production budget. It’s easy to give up any hope of having an amazing stage design when you have a small budget. But, with the right materials and a little creativity, you can make a stellar stage design without breaking the bank.

In this post, we’ll cover a number of low-cost materials to create stage designs with, but first, there are a few things you need to consider when building your set.

Stage Designs Are 75% Lighting

There’s only so much that a stage design can do on its own. Lighting is what changes a plain stage into a dynamic environment, and it can really control mood of your room. Stage designs will come and go, but chances are, you’ll be using whatever lights you have until they die. If you have the option, set aside a portion of your set budget to buy at least 1-2 new lighting fixtures. By the time you’ve gone through 4-5 stage designs, you will have built up a nice lighting rig.

Angles = Shadows = Depth

One of the easiest ways to give your stage a dynamic feel is to add depth.  Flat designs can easily become boring, but depth can make for some very cool shadows on your set, which will give you a wide array of options when designing your lighting cues each week.

Your Set Won’t Always Have “Cool” Lighting

It’s easy to make a set look good with lights that are constantly changing color and intensity, but your set needs to look good when the lights aren’t in motion. Also, if your room is used for more than just weekend worship, you need to make sure your set looks good without being lit at all.

 

With those things in mind, let’s look at some of my favorite building materials for constructing stage designs, along with some real-world examples for inspiration.

PVC Pipe

PVC Pipe - Church Stage DesignPVC pipe comes in a variety of lengths and diameters, and since it’s commonplace in every household, it’s quite cheap. At about $5 for a 10ft section, your money will go a long way towards creating some great designs using PVC. Pro tip: Use acetone to wipe away the manufacturer-printed information on the side of each piece of pipe.  Leaving the text on will just be a distraction.  (Example 1  •  Example 2  •  Example 3)

Coroplast

Coroplast - Church Stage DesignPossibly the strongest contender on the list due to its sheer flexibility (both literally and figuratively), this corrugated plastic is an excellent building block for any stage design. Coroplast can maintain its lightweight, yet sturdy, form in just about any shape, which means your options are virtually unlimited when building. In addition to opaque white, coroplast can also be found in translucent varieties, which will give you the option of lighting it from behind to create some stunning effects on your stage.  Again, keep in mind that lighting is what will really create great looks with a coroplast set, not the material itself.

The best place to find low-cost coroplast sheets is your local sign shop.  Any shop that prints yard signs & the like will most likely have 4′x8′ sheets of coroplast on hand.  Prices vary from place to place, but a 4′x8′ sheet will usually run around $12-$20. You can also pick up sheets at some home improvement stores such as Home Depot.  (Example 1  •  Example 2  •  Example 3  •  Example 4)

Window Screen

Window Screen - Church Stage DesignLike PVC, window screen is widely available at any home improvement store and it comes very cheap. Crinkling up window screen can create some serious shadows, which can add depth and texture to an otherwise boring set. Make sure to wear heavy duty gloves when working with this material though; the sharp edges of a roll of screen can shred your hands if you aren’t careful.  (Example 1)

Wood Pallets

Wood Pallets - Church Stage DesignWood is yet another solid choice for set building.  Lumber is already pretty cheap, but often times you can find pallets for free from local warehouses and storage facilities. Pallet wood is usually rustic and textured, which can make for some very organic set pieces. A word of advice: A freestanding pallet doesn’t look that great as a set piece.  Strip the pallet wood apart and create something amazing: a textured wall, a drum riser, or a prop piece for your set, for example.

(Example 1  •  Example 2  •  Example 3  •  Example 4)

MIO Foldscapes

Mio - Church Stage DesignMio is a company that creates environmentally-friendly architectural pieces for use in the office environment (ceiling tiles, room partitions, and the like). Luckily, their materials also can make for some killer sets! Prices vary from product to product, but their Foldscapes ceiling tiles, which make for some very cool lighting effects, are $98 for a box of 24 2′x2′ tiles.  (Example 1  •  Example 2)

 

Do you have any other low-cost set materials you love to build with? Post your suggestions in the comments below or send us a tweet to @CreativePastor!

Photos used with permission from ChurchStageDesignIdeas.com