Monday, December 29, 2008

XC set-up and pre-service...

A couple people commented and asked about what we call our pre-service; so I thought I'd share a little more about how our weekends run. Starting with set-up, our pre-service and then break down.
Particularly since we are a mobile church, we have to roll in and completely set up on Saturday and break down on Sunday.

So a typical weekend for us:

Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

On Saturday morning, the weekend experience teams usually arrive about 8:00 a.m.
This time is used for set up and rehearsals.

The truck arrives and everyone helps unload the truck. Another truck is out dropping off the free standing directional signs.
Then everyone chips in and hauls in the various equipment from our rolling storage units (read "our cars").

Band: Sets up their equipment, instruments (including the drum kit), etc. They work with the tech team and set up the amps, monitors, mics, etc.

Tech Team: Set up all the monitors, mics. Set up and prep the light board, sound board, projection system and computer. Set up the t.v. monitors in the lobby.

Flip't Ministries: Haul out all the (huge) rolling cabinets and equipment and set up in their rooms. I think they have five different age groups/rooms.

Stage set crew (pPod): Amongst all this madness, the stage set team, gets out the 15 foots ladder and starts hanging cloth or whatever the design is for the weekend.

Then we start rehearsals: tech and otherwise. pPod is often still working around the band.

Also add into the mix that we often have either a dramatic element or dance element. They are included in the Saturday morning call and subsequent practicing on stage. We have to leave promptly at 11:45.

Sunday morning anywhere between 6:30-7:30'ish:

Everybody arrives, we do any last minute touch ups and start rehearsals again.
The connections team is setting up in the lobby while we are rehearsing.
Flip't ministries is setting up the last minute touches and sign in tables.

Sunday: 9:15 Pre-service

Everyone stops and goes to pre-service. Pre-service is for the leadership and teams (children's ministry, connections and food team, etc.) working that particular weekend. It's a time of worship (15 mins.), the pastor gives a very short recap (10 mins.) of what his message is going to be) and we pray (15-20 mins.).
Granted the worship team and pastor still have to "work", but it's a lot more relaxed atmosphere. Each week it varies who we pray for, this week it was for the people worshipping with us today (particularly the skeptics), the children's ministries (who were starting a new series on sin), the tech team and our pastor.
Even if I am not serving that weekend, I'll often join in. It always great, leaders are seemingly always ready to step into worship and prayer. The pray is the most amazing part. If we have communion that Sunday, we also partake then.

Then we re-set if needed, work out any kinks.

Hang-time: 10:00 -10:25

Each Sunday our Connections team, set up a breakfast bar. It opens at 10:00. So when people arrive at 10:00 they are able to sign -in their children, grab a bit to eat and some Starbucks coffee (of course) and hang out a little bit.

Connections team members greet at the outside doors, help guests get settled in.

Often the teams serving on the weekend worship experience are lucky enough to get out for "hang-time".

Go time 10:20:

The doors open at 10:20, everyone is in their places, the count-down starts and then it's go time....
Also as people enter the auditorium, we have Connection team member located in each quadrant of the auditorium. They look for new faces, greet them, help them get situated, answer any questions. This works really well.

We usually end the service around 12:00, and after a little hang time; we break it all down again, stuff it in our little corner (see pictures) and load up our cars and the truck.

So there you have it. This is how we operate almost every single week of the year. But we are grateful that we have the building on Saturdays. When Cross Current first started, they only had the school building on Sunday mornings and often had to be there as early as 4:30 - 5:00 a.m.

What are the nuts and bolts of your set-ups and rehearsals?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

being His hands...

Simple, very simple service today.

Worship Set 1
Unchanging is the Lord

Welcome & Greet
Special Song
Stars (w/ our worship leader shared a short moment about an encounter with a skeptic on the airplane this Christmas)

Worship Set 2
Grace Like Rain
This is Our God


Worship Set 3
Mighty to Save

I am so thankful we have a pre-service for leaders.
Today it allowed me to be free to minister to someone during worship.
I went looking because during worship, there was someone who was obviously overwhelmed with emotion during the second worship set. Sadly, she wound up leaving, but she is a regular, so we will be able to follow up with her.
But, while out in the lobby I found a young pregnant mother in tears. Her husband is military, so they are only stationed here for a year, they are having a baby soon, far away from their families and she is very shy and is trying to connect with mothers here, particularly to help out when the baby is born (they already have two very young boys). And she just found out she is having another boy, when she desperately wants to have a little girl. We sat, talked, and prayed together.

A lot of you also used to do Creative Chaos on Thursday at Carlos Whitacker's blog Ragamuffin Soul. Sadly, it stopped a couple months ago. I wrote Los and have been praying and have decided to start hosting a blog carnival on Thursday called "creative fuZion".

Thank you all for being His hands as your serve...

This is part of the Sunday Set List blog carnival on Fred McKinnon's blog. It a wonderful group of people that share and care about the worship experience. Make sure you visit today.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Feliz Navidad...

warehouse and fuZion thoughts...

I always find it interesting how God works.
I have been playing around with a couple of concepts over the last 6 months.

One is the "warehouse" idea.

I have played around with sort of a clearing house idea where people could share their ideas of creative elements and possible lend or give props, designs, etc. away to other churches. Particularly there are so many churches that are working with a very small budget. I haven't been able to figure out the details yet.

So, more recently these two creative pieces have bumped into my life.

The first (first two pictures) is a handmade "Lion of Judah" banner created by Courney Mann a wonderful visual artist at our church.

Second was a set of 5' letters that spell out "life", that was utilized at our mother church for a recent series. They have been offered to us if we need them.

Neither of these creative pieces are openly availible now; but it really got me thinking again about the warehouse concept. I am open to ideas, suggestions, prayer on how to possibly implement this idea.

The second idea is "creative fuZion".

I was a huge fan of Creative Chaos, Thursday on Carlos Whittaker's blog. A blog carnival where people shared all sorts of creative elements that they or their church had utilized. Well sadly, he has stop posting the Creative Chaos. So, I am seriously contemplating starting my own version called "creative fuZion".

I've been trying to figure out Mr. Linky and my wordpress account and just can't seem to get it working all together.
I do plan on launching "creative fuZion" at the beginning of the year. So keep your eyes open.

Any thoughts or ideas?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

worship in the gaze...

One of the things that like to do is notice trends…
And it is nice to see more and more people recognizing the need to think though what is truly important about Christmas. Eliminating the fluff and focusing on the miracle of Christ’s birth.
In my life, I have been going through this very process over the last few years.

Our creative team at church was actually very excited about our Christmas set. Called “Christmas Crescendo”. A visual juxtaposition of the simplicity of Jesus’ birth vs. what it has become in our society. The implementation of this thought was wonderful. The highlight of it all was “Mary’s Child
The chorus said:
Angels and shepherds are singing your praise
But I want to worship right here in your gaze
Tomorrow a savior ,but today just a babe
Tomorrow on a cross, but today in a manger you lay.

This Christmas may all who love Him take time to simply worship in the gaze of the babe of Bethlehem.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

rest in peace Puffin

Puffin Holland
Well, the beginning of my day was absolutely wonderful.

The end of my day tragic. I had to go to a meeting at Starbucks this evening. When I came home, I found my sweet, sweet 18 yr, 10 month old dog Puffin dead on the living room floor when I came in.

Obviously, it has been expected.

I love my husband, he has worried about me so much when this time would come. He was there to hold me and comfort me as long as I needed. He gets the prize as the very best husband ever.

I am hurting, but I know it was the right thing. I have been praying that God handle the situation. I wanted to be able to make the correct choice. Yet, she wasn’t really in pain. But, because of the prayer…I know it was the right rime.

I trust in Him.

Isn’t he amazing to care enough for me and my little bundle of joy.

But for now, I sit simply holding her. She brought so much joy. She is going to be missed greatly.

Christmas Crescendo implementation...

Christmas Crescendo
Here are some pics., taken during set up Friday evening and Saturday morning.

Curtains Closed

Worship Set 1 (sung in front of the curtain w/ only acoustic guitar)
Joy to the World

Welcome & Greet

Creative Element: “Christmas Crescendo
Designed to show how often the true of meaning of Christmas is lost in the hustle and bustle of what Christmas has become to society.

Curtain opens to a blue spot on Mary and baby Jesus.
She is quietly singing to baby:
O, Come, O Come Emmanuel (one verse)

She remains center stage as: Start: Electronic wav file of Carol of the Bells, entire band joined in layers on top of the track. The song gets louder and more hectic as the following scenes unfold:
Lights: Leg of curtains, lights up on each side of stage.
Stage left: Husband and wife bring in Christmas tree, set it up and decorate (plug in lights), they also bring in gifts. Their young children enter (in p.j.’s), shake packages and play around tree. Read book.
Stage right: shoppers enter with rolling rack of clothes.
Stage right: Santa comes in, seated on a rolling platform with elves. Photographer enters and sets up his lighting and camera on a tripod. Families with children line up to get their picture taken with Santa.
More Lights: Icicle lights on back curtain light up.
Another rolling rack with clothes enters into the auditorium with another shopper and retail sales person.

ALL ACTION STOPS: Music ends abruptly, actors freeze in place, all lights black out except the blue spot again on Mary & Jesus
(short intro of) O, Come, O Come Emmanuel, which transitioned into:
Mary’s Child (amazing song written by April Eads, who also played Mary)

Worship Set 2 (done completely with an acoustic guitar only)
What Child is This? (Actors exited stage during intro. Mary and Jesus exited after the first verse)
O Holy Night

Message: The Real Meaning of Christmas (and giving a gift of ourselves to Him)

Worship set 3 (the full band was back: w/communion and interactive family element)
There were several gifts boxes on each row. Everyone was asked to write or draw on a piece of paper, a gift they wanted to give to baby Jesus. (Families were asked to work with their children, which was really cool to see). Then place the note in a small gift bag and tie a ribbon around it. Then go as a family or with friends to the communion stations. And give the gift to Jesus (a manger was set up at each station).
Glory in the Highest
We Three Kings
O, Come, O Come Emmanuel
(the percussionist used a really nifty Samba beat to this, totally cool!)

It was one of those amazing moments in time, where everything combined to share the true meaning with Christmas with all those who entered in today.
Interesting notes today:My husband (not a Christian) came today. He only comes to church once every couple of years.
My son and his family visited again (four weeks now). It is so cool to be able to worship together.
I particularly love how my three year old grandson loves to stand in the aisle to worship. He sways back and forth, claps his hands. My two year grand daughter also joined us.
Someone (a friend I have made at Starbucks, currently dechurched) I had invited, came and texted me afterwards that he thought the worship was awesome!
And two people came up afterwards. One person wants to join the pPod team (that implements the interactive experiential worship elements) and another wants to join the lighting team.
What an amazing day!

How was your Sunday today?

This is being submitted to Sunday Set list blog carnival at Fred McKinnon's blog. Be sure to check how other churches are glorifying God through worship each Sunday.

tough call...

Posted on our church website, we will be having worship this morning.
Some of our people's cars (from the south) are covered in ice.
People to the west have already had the bulk of the storm pass.
It's starting to sleet at my house.
Praying that all who come in arrive safely.
Well, got to head out now...

Friday, December 19, 2008

checking off #61 on my list of things to do…

Today is a big day. This evening is the stage set-up for our “Christmas Crescendo” production.

Shortly I will leave for Starbucks to work.

My ancient Thunderbird is already packed to the gills with multiple bolts of material, a box of Christmas ornaments, a huge box of white trees, two huge pink stuffed dogs, box of chiffon, Christmas lights, a newly purchased clothes rack and other various and assorted stage props.

I have a bag packed with a change of clothes, since I will have to head directly from Starbucks and head to Eagle Ridge Middle School to coordinate the efforts of about 10-12 people. We will have 3 hours to go from zero to full stage set.

Next, I need to add my camera and computer, work bag. I have print-outs of details how to do each piece of the set, so each team will know what to do when we start.
Oh yes, and my pPod bag.

The weather man is calling for snow Saturday evening and Sunday morning.
Life as stage designer for a mobile church is interesting to say the least.

And now it is time to pause and pray again…

I really need a bigger car for my rolling storage closet.

What are your preparations for this Sunday’s service?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

crescendo (two) the process

My mind tends to find snippets of ideas and develop full blown creative elements productions.
I actually found this tremendous Christmas production 2007 (Pace Hartfield) at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX early this year.

Trans Siberian in Service from Pace Hartfield on Vimeo

Sunday, December 14, 2008


We have been working towards incorporating our youth in the weekend experience about once every 8 weeks or so. It is always a tremendous event.

“Imago” has an incredible ministry, which includes their own monthly worship services, out reach neighborhood groups and they have almost two entire worship bands.

So today was one of our Sundays when the youth lead worship.

Worship Set 1
We Three Kings
Blessed be Your Name

Welcome and Greet

Worship Set 2
Here I am to Worship

Creative Element:
Dramatization to:
The Reason (Hoobastank)

Message: Christmas is about the Incarnation.
What it looks like to walk in the human steps of Jesus-God in the flesh, Emmanuel, God with us!

Worship Set 3
Glory in the Highest
Angels We Have Heard on High

This is part of the Sunday Set List at Fred McKinnon's blog. Always fresh, always interesting. Check it out.

Friday, December 12, 2008

circle of life...

As I walk through life, almost every day my mind captures snapshots and extrapolates every day occurrences into worship designs.
I have absolutely no control over this. In fact I call it "God exploding in my mind". Sometimes it is a full blown worship experience, other times is a mere snippet. In fact that is why I started this blog. I had so many ideas running around in my head that they were crashing into each other. I needed a place to download my thoughts.
November 23rd, my mother took me to see the "Lion King". It was an amazing experience and a shining example of breaking through the fourth wall of stage design.
Just one of the moments that captured my imagination was these birds that had soaring over the audience. Check out this youtube video, you can see the character Zazu entering at 2:40 mark. If you look closely you will also see other bird puppets in the background.

I saw about four people, spaced through-out the auditorium flying "something" over the heads of the worshipers.
So, I have spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure out how to implement this into worship. I have finally figured out I need fly fishing pools and fishing line. I have yet to figure out what to attach to the poles. That may have to wait until this element works it's way into a specific message. We will see...
What is your wildest idea for worship design?

why did the chicken...

From space to breathe * room to grow

" day I noticed that my chickens and my congregation both react to change in much the same way.

Each day, we move our floorless pasture pens forward eight feet, providing access to fresh grass.
The birds learn they must walk as the pen is pulled forward. Even so, several factors determine their willingness to cooperate.
One factor is my own anxiety level. If I am anxious for the chickens to hurry, they sense it and do the opposite. If I jerk or kick the pen or yell, they stand still or crowd into a corner, making movement impossible. But if I remain patient and calm, they walk together rather well.
Even then, there's a wide range of response to this daily change. A few birds rush to the front of the pen as soon as the pulling chain is attached anticipating the new clover and bugs to come. A larger group hangs back to watch the early birds, and moves only when the pen moves. About a third of them delay a bit longer, until the movement is well underway; another third delays until there seems no choice but move ahead or get run over.
Inevitably, a group remains along the rear wall of the pen, staring backwards."
~ Jeff Hawkins "Tending or Processing?"

So true.

Which chicken are you?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


A few simple tips today…

Along with technology the changes in worship graphics are growing exponentially. I still remember the days of black words on a white over head projector screen. Yet, if you are in a ministry that tends to focus on the technologically savvy it’s still important to remember basic design concepts along with implementation of new technologies.

1. One thing dominates the screen. When you look at a well-designed page, there is usually one dominant feature that your eye will gravitate towards.

What is the first thing your eye is drawn to in this example?
All I see is the face. Eyes particularly are drawn to faces.

2. Minimize typeface variety. Don't mix and match multiple fonts just because you are able. Stay away from weird type styles - you don't want your worship to resemble a used car commercial.Choose one or two nice, readable fonts and stick with them throughout your service. Times Roman is bland - start with Arial, Verdana or Helvetica.
Notice the difference in readability in the following samples. Particularly note the difference between serifs (the details on the end of the letters) and sans serif.

Generally a font that is crisp and clean and well spaced out is easier to read. My personal belief is that serifs tend to get in the way.
Whenever you use a new font, try it out on the screen before worship. What looks good on your computer monitor might not look so hot enlarged in 40 point font.
3. Easy to read text. Tiny text is hard to read on screen. Centering lyrics is the trend, but you learn Art 101 college class that this tires the eye - lyrics should be "flush left" - like a newspaper column. See how hard it is to read the following. The eye has to search for the beginning of each line: 4. Use caution with bells and whistles. It’s always fun to find a new technique. But, don’t overdo it. Not every song, not every week. Currently this is motion graphics.
5. Pay attention to details. My favorite story is there is a motion graphic on a popular worship media program that has a deer peacefully drinking at the edge of a calm body of water. In the far background there is a lion stalking the deer.
As always prayerful consideration in all you do. That is a given.
What are your design guidelines (pet peeves) about worship graphics?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

my mother the pole dancer...

My mother is a kick. She will be 70 this month and is a consummate storyteller. I won’t do this story justice I’m sure, but I just have to relate it.

Her most recent job was gathering research data on people living in the inner city.

One of the people she needed to contact lived in an apartment above an establishment called “Sassy Kat’s”. An almost neon pink building on a corner in the “hood”.
She found the office around the back of the building and spoke to the manager who offered to give her a tour.
When they walked in off the street, there was a large portioning wall. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the dimly lit room.
Round tables and chairs crowded the room. And along one wall there was a large square table, with chairs and a pole rising up in the middle.

This is the conversation that ensued...

“Oh, so you have dancers?”
“Well, yes…”
“Girls and boys?”
“No, only girls…”
“Are they all young?”“No, we actually have someone in here in her sixties…”

Well, mom just loves to tell this story, teasing that this is probably going to be her next “job”.

She had also decided she wanted me to take pictures of her at her various hang outs. She wanted to send pictures to her brother that chronicled her job.
We spent a fun filled day, driving around the inner city in her “hood” and taking pictures.
As she primped for her picture at “Sassy Kat’s”, here is what I saw in the viewfinder of my camera.

That's right. Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday. Amateur Tryouts 8-10 p.m.

If you look closely, you are able to see we added "Happy New Year" to the photo and this is the cover of her New Year's card this year.

Doncha' wish your mother was cool like mine?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

this is going to hurt like....

Every now and again we use a specially chosen secular song to highlight a thought or message.
We strongly feel it is a connecting piece for skeptics.

This week we had a dramatic action piece of Lazarus on his death bed. We used the song Hold On Sarah MacLachlan. We did edit the lyrics a bit at the beginning and the end, dropping hell from the following line.

Hold on
Hold on to yourself
For this is gonna hurt… (like hell)

It was amazingly poignant and powerful.

I appreciate being part of a creative team and worship team that puts very careful thought to the words of each and every song that is used for worship and in service.
We also struggle with which Christmas songs to use during worship. But with prayer and careful thought, God leads us to just the correct songs to use. We ended with "O Come All Ye Faithful". It was so joyful and really kicked it with the message. We have to go through the death to experience ressurection.

Instrumental Opener

Worship Set 1
Oh, Praise Him (David Crowder)

Welcome and Greet
Worship Set 2
Glory in the Highest (Chris Tomlin)
Amazed (Lincoln Brewster)

Drama: Lazarus
With special music Hold On Sarah MacLachlan
Message: When God Weeps (series Band Aids for Bullet Holes)

Worship Set 3
O Come All Ye Faithful (in house version)

Do you use secular music in your service?

This is part of Fred McKinnon’s Sunday Set List #20 Carnival where worship leaders and simply worshippers share what they are singing to praise God each week.

Friday, December 5, 2008

kaleidoscope ...

The reality is I am going through a kaleidoscope of emotions this Christmas season.

Work is tough. With the economic times, corporate is cutting back on our staffing hours; which means less hours (pay) for us the front line workers. Just as the holiday increase in sales and traffic are ramping up. It’s harder and harder each day to accomplish all the tasks we must perform as well as provide that “legendary customer service” we so believe in.

But, I have a decent job…

The oldest dog in my menagerie, Puffin is failing fast. I tearfully watch her stumble around. Her little feeble legs just fail to hold her up and she flops to the floor. Her seizures are increasing. She has totally forgotten how to do much of anything. Including asking to eat, go out…

I know her time is quickly coming.

But, I reflect back on the 18 plus years of joy, love and friendship she given me…

The house is a disaster. Everything is in total chaos. We try to keep up. Remember my little aged dog, who forgets to ask to go out…well…you figure it out.

But, I am thankful we still have a home…

Also the one year anniversary of my dad’s death is approaching. This one is tough of course. Anyone who has experienced the death of a close loved one will understand the roll coaster of emotions that are occurring in my heart. It’s really hard to write just what I am feeling.

But, I am thankful knowing he is finally at peace…

I literally have no money in my bank account. I took three weeks off to go care for my brother and his family while he recently had heart surgery.

But, someday soon, I will get another check…

Yet I am very excited about Christmas, even without participating in all the shopping, wrapping, decorating, cards and such. Not even planning Christmas dinner. Each day I wake up with a song of praise in my heart. I actually feel child like as I joyfully await the celebration of the birth of my Savior.

With all these emotions turning in my mind, I’m still approaching this season with awe...

What is the reality of your Christmas season this year?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Advent conspiracy...

it's time to join the advent conspiracy...

this fits in with exactly how I have been feeling for several years now...
Thanks Tyler at man.of.depravity for turning me on to this vid.

I must say, I can't stand it when...

...blogspot gets stuck in a loop and won't let me edit things to my liking.

my menagerie...

My name is Puffin. I am the absolute queen of the house. I am almost 19 years old. Deaf, blind, have dementia, vertigo and only four teeth.

Hey girls, my name is Rocket J. Squirrel. I am the man of the house. I'm very chubby..I mean fluffy.

I am Koko Moe. I am a rescue and I will bite the back of your leg, if you give me a chance. My sister's name is Tipsy.
My name is Tipsy. I am Koko's siter. I was rescued from a rescue. My life used to be tough, but now I am as happy as can be.
If you give me a half of a chance, I will curl up on our lap.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

actually up, out and in...

An explanation of my cryptic blog title of up, out, on and in...
It should really be up, out and in...
It's a key phrase I keep in my mind to remind me when I am designing an element I am always looking to expand designs further up and out. Something that reaches beyond the stage. To utilize all the air in the worship space, not just what is visually in front of our faces on the stage.
And to design something that really reaches in(to) people. A new way to experience God.
That's all folks...

retooning the nativity...

Retooning the Nativity video from Igniter Media (will open in a new window)
Really interesting video. We need reminders sometimes...

Where the heck did I put my Christmas tree last year?

I seriously made that comment the other day.

I was talking with one of our bass players at church about how difficult it is to set up a Christmas tree with animals. You know, large dogs wagging their big ol’ tails and knocking the tree over or dashing ornaments to the floor. Cats climbing in the branches. Mine particularly liked to try and eat the tinsel. That was the last year for tinsel. Dogs lapping up the water, etc.

I seriously couldn’t remember what I had done last year.

Then it dawned on me. I hadn’t set up ANY Christmas decorations last year (duh!). Or the year before for that matter.

It has been a gradual process…and it all goes back to many years ago.

I was driving to yet another meeting. I felt super stressed as I was planning all the things I needed to do. I worked in children’s retail, so I had absolutely NO time. Christmas in retail is ridiculously insane.

I was listening to the radio and it ending with someone saying…

“What if it was your birthday and no one remembered?”

That stopped me literally in my tracks. I had to pull of the road and I cried for awhile. Realizing that I had really forgotten over the years with all the hoopla-to focus on Christ at all. It really changed the way I thought about things.

Slowly, I started dropping things that I used to “do” for Christmas and worked more on “being” with Jesus.

Then our children stopped spending Christmas day with us several years ago. That was a really bad year. I had no motivation at all. I think I may have put up the tree and added one strand of lights to it. I like lights. That was the last year for the tree.

So what do I do now on Christmas Day? I simply light a candle and think about Jesus’ birth. I read the Christmas story in the Bible.

Then we order Chinese food and get a video to watch.

I think that is why I am so excited about our Christmas message this year at church. We are doing a visual movement piece where we are starting with Mary and baby Jesus alone on the stage and then adding all the Christmas hoopla until Mary and the baby Jesus are barely visible in all off the Christmas madness. Hopefully it will make people think…

So, I ask you today…

What if it was your birthday and no one remembered?

How will you remember His birthday celebration this year?

turkey street (alternate ending)

This video is one of the creative elements for this past Sunday...

It is a running video gag that we have done for the last couple of years...just goofy fun.

Disclaimer: This was a family Sunday, so when this was shown in worship they edited out the shotgun blast at the end. But when they were filming and editing...well boys will be boys. lol.

from the Mad Mind of Bill (and friends)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

up, out, on and in...

When you are planning a worship service/element that God probably planted that seed of an idea in your heart and thoughts for a reason.
Particularly if it is an interactive experiential element. Those moments really do impact people and helps them grow closer to God.
See, so many worship experiences are simply participatory. That’s not a bad thing.
But, one small issue that I have observed in American society, it that people have created a huge self-imposed bubble of personal space. That not only impacts their relationships with other people, but it also impacts their relationship with God.
But, when we create something that bursts that self-imposed bubble of space and allows people to step closely into God; that’s when they are able to truly encounter God.
May main “job” (calling) from God at church is to create those moments of experiential elements.
We try to involve all five senses in the worship experience like:
-putting on a band-aid with someone’s name written on it that you are praying for…
-the scent of bread wafting through out the auditorium to remind people of the Bread of Life…
-a call to action, such as bringing in items that are needed at the local homeless shelter…
-pulling the experience out into the entire worship space, like visual projections on the ceiling…

As long as the main goal is glorifying to God, it will impact people’s lives.

Christmas Crescendo...

We’re actually very excited about our Christmas set. Called “Christmas Crescendo”.
A visual juxtaposition of the simplicity of Jesus’ birth vs. what it has become in our society.

The service will start with the lights dimming to black (light strips along the isles).

Then a single spot will light on Mary holding baby Jesus. Mary is silent for a few moments, a new mother with her newborn son. She then begins to sing him a song (idea: O come Emmanuel). Quiet at first, then just audible enough to hear (maybe not even with a mic). But she is singing to her baby, not the congregation.

Then the keys begin to underscore and audible overtake her vocals (she’s still singing, eventually probably mouthing it, or turn down the mic).

Then suddenly an electric guitar joins as the screen begins to show an lively and up-beat artistic video. Then the rest of the band starts to join. The stage is progressively getting lit as the band enters the song.

Then a couple (guy and girl) enter the stage and the guy is dragging a Christmas tree from the left to the right side of stage (passes in front of Mary). The girl is carrying a box with tinsel and decorations and maybe the stand to hold the tree. Once the tree is up the guy goes to the right side of the stage and brings on presents to put under the tree. Just as a couple of kids run in from the left and begin to shake and open some of the presents (they all continue to interact silently).

At the same time some other people enter from both sides of the stage holding shopping bags (as stage hands, in black, drag in racks with clothes on them). These people look through the clothes and interact. Some leave, some stay, new people join, etc.

Meanwhile the song builds with a couple vocals picking up the chorus still mouthed by Mary.

Then from the left side of the stage, stage hands roll out the old drum platform (covered in red cloth) with a fancy “throne” where a Santa Claus is sitting on it. Then kids and parents join the crowded stage from the right side of the stage and form a line for pictures as a photographer begins to take pictures (flash and all).

Almost simultaneous with this, hundreds of Christmas lights begin to come on all round the stage dangling from the curtains (and on the tree that was brought in; the actors around the tree have been setting up the trees lights and plugging them in).

Getting a big “Merry Christmas” light for the back center of the stage, that would be the final part to this building crescendo. All of this would be, of course, timed to the song.

Suddenly the music ends as all the lights go out, save the one spot on Mary who is now the lone voice singing to Jesus.

Then as her song ends someone enters the stage to provide a monologue about how we need to focus this Christmas on Jesus, not all the lights and noise.

Then we go into calm and simple worship set with just a singer and guitar.

What are your plans for Christmas service this year?

Monday, December 1, 2008

simple band aid box...

The series is "Band-Aids for Bullet Holes".
The box was so simple to make. We took a high resolution picture of a bandaid box and had it printed onto a large piece of foam core (it is VERY expensive to do this). It is partially cut along the edge and then propped up. It is free standing. It is only the image of these two sides showing, just placed strategically on stage.

I had to sort of laugh. I was out of town when our team did this. I personally would have opted for the far less expensive option of just printing out the picture and then using tacky glue and glue it onto a piece of cardboard. Say $20 vs. $200 bucks (I'm guess-timating here).
Oh, and learn.

NUGGET: One thing I have learned...when you are gluing with paper, tacky glue and cardboard you will initially be concerned about it the lines showing through. Don't worry about it. The little ridges you see up close won't show at all when they are dry and when viewed from a distance.
Just use lots of little lines of glue, paying special attention to the edges.

The tie in: This is a multi-week mini-series. As you are able to see here; we also had a large band-aid printed on foam core (front and center in front of the stage).

Last week, during the worship service we had people come forward and write the names of people they would like the church to pray for, sometimes with a brief explanation of the situation.

What was really cool. The kids ministry also did the same thing. If you look to the far right of the stage, you will see they created their own small version of the bandaid with names written on it.

We also had a take-away bandaid for everyone on the first Sunday. People were to write the name of someone their are praying for on the band aid and wear it as a visual reminder.

The follow-up was this week. What was super cool-was our pastor shared some of the answers to specific prayers. One was a job for someone who had been out of work for a couple months, another was a break through in a very troubled marriage. That was so powerful to share the answer prayers and to be able to praise God for those answers.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

bandaids for bullet holes...

Hi gang, at Sunday Set List on Fred McKinnon’s blog.
Man, I am thankful to be home again. And nice to be missed…
I’ve been out of town now for four Sundays.
As you may know, I use a lot of cloth in my stage designs. I made it back just in time for our creative team meeting on Tuesday. It was so sweet to hear requests from people (and our pastor), if we could possibly have cloth on the stage this week, now that I am home….

This week, the stage is simple, the worship is simple, the message is simple…

Our Sunday Set List this week:
Instrumental Opener (Wow! Nice Celtic kick)

Worship Set 1
All We Need (Charlie Hall)

Welcome & Greet
Turkey Street Video (it isn't posted yet, but for the last couple of years we've had a running series of Turkey videos, which are goofy and fun)

Worship Set 2
Fire Fall Down (Hillsong Untied)
Exalted (Yahweh) (Chris Tomlin) – chorus of Awesome God

Africa Missions Trip

Message: (Part of the series of “Band Aids for Bullet Holes”)
Africa Missions Trip and Servants Heart (our outreach ministry)

Worship Set 3
Holy is the King (this is what was listed on our sheet but it isn't the actual name. Need to research it)
(reprise of Exalted (Yahweh)

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to all!

I have so much to be thankful for. I am so thankful for the creative arts ministry team that I serve with each week. I am thankful for my wonderful husband of 21 years (our anniversary was on Back Friday). I am thankful for all my family and friends.
But, most of all…I am thankful for having a personal relationship with God. He rocks my world!

P.S. The best thing happened today, my daughter-in-law, visited at my church today with my grandbabies!! It was so wonderful worshipping together. Here is a picture of my grandson worshipping in the aisle. My granddaughter is in the foreground. So cute!

What are you thankful for?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

stepping over the line...

I was driving in for worship set up this morning and realized that I was really excited to get back to Virginia. Specifically I was excited about being back in the groove of setting up staging for our worship. I really missed it. It was fun to connect with the super dedicated team I serve with. It was great to be hands on again, implementing staging on the fly. I even had to stop off at a drug store to buy some safety pins, since my pPod bag (with all the tools, etc I use to set up) is at someone else's house.

I guess that is a sure sign that you are called to serve, when you step over the line to total commitment.

My friend Beth talks about a line that she sees between those that serve and those who participate. What is really interesting is people that are simply participants often don't feel connected.

I feel, to feel connected you have to step over the line...
the line to serve...
the line to be in a small group...
the line to commit...

I have a friend that has been skipping church recently. And it really sounds like she is ready to step down from serving...I'm just waiting for it. I've been hearing it coming for months now. In essence, she is trying to slowly step backwards over that line of demarcation. Next, I'll hear she doesn't feel connected anymore. Gee, I wonder why?
It's sad really.

What side of the line are you on at the moment?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

visiting Geist...

Geist Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Gathering Music

Praise Songs (set list 1)
Let It Rise (Big Daddy Weave)
As The Deer (trad. arr. Salvador)
Breathe (Passion)

Moment for Children
Pastoral Prayer and Lord’s Prayer

Offering music (performed)
People Get Ready (Curtis Mayfield

Message: “It’s About Time” Mark Briley
Response to Message (performed)
Today (Jadon Lavik)


Closing Song
Everyday (Hillsong)

Monday, November 17, 2008

just a thought...

I really enjoy participating in the the Sunday Set List Carnival at Fred McKinnon's blog. The conversations are often inspiring.

This week on Windbag the Worship Leader we got chatting in the comments about utilizing old goldies (or "vintage songs" as HL likes to call them) in worship sets.
"Not only are they new for the younger generation, and that the older folks really connect...but unchurched people have no clue what is "old" or "new". A great song is simply that, a great song..."

Sadly, for a few years the vintage songs got thrown out with bath water.
I was blessed early on to have a worship leader who insisted on adding a vintage song almost every week. Along with a secular song that fit the message. Man, we caught a lot of flack for that.
What are your thoughts on adding "vintage songs" into worship?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

on the road…

I am currently on the road. My youngest brother had heart surgery on Election Day. He lives in Indianapolis and had his heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. I flew to Indy, picked up my mother and we drove to Cleveland for his surgery. Then we returned to take care of his three young children, until he recovered enough to come home.

Once we settled back here in Indy, I decided to visit my mother’s church, Geist Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Well, technically not my mother’s church, but the new North Campus of their church.

I always find it very interesting to look at a church from a guest’s point of view.

Geist Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Worship set 1
Forever (Tomlin)
Holy is the Lord (Tomlin)
Grace Flows Down/You Are My King (Christy Nockels)

Moment for Children
Pastoral Prayer and Lord’s Prayer

Offering Music (performed)
The Invitation (Steven Curtis Chapman)

Message: Casting Your Vote

Musical Response to Message (performed)
Rise Up (Zehnder)


Closing Song:
Fairest Lord Jesus (Passion Worship Band)

Geist is now one church at two locations. They expanded to a second location (North Campus) this year and it is a very successful campus launch, with 100 unique new families when they launched.
I’ll be blogging more about my impressions later this week, in between continuing to care for my brother. I am also going to try to meet their main worship leader and encourage them to participate here.

This is part of the wonderful group of people over at Sunday Set List Carnival on Fred McKinnon's blog.

Do you get a chance/like to visit other churches?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I am trying to catch up. I thought I would have had more time to keep my blog updated. But, that didn’t happen. It has been a frenzied week.
Between the hospital shuffle, medical complications, internet availability and connectivity, travel to Cleveland and back to Indianapolis, my mothers house and my brothers house and caring for my brothers three children and dog it just didn’t happen. Today is my first day that I’ve had a chance to actually catch up.
Thanks for checking in and bearing with me…

church marketing....

I watched a show on advertizing and internet presence.
They were discussing the current state of the economy; and how often businesses will make the mistake of cutting back on the money spent on advertizing. This is a mistake. You need to spend your money on marketing.
Often times I find that some churches eschew the terminology of marketing. But the reality is that whether you are intentionally designing a marketing plan or not you are still marketing.

Keeping in mind your target demographics and location, you need to make sure people can find you. Understand that a large majority of people aren’t looking in the newspaper anymore. They are dong goggle searches.

You would think that in this day and age that people would understand that the internet is a cheaper and more efficient means of advertizing.

Whether your clicks are organically high or you pay per click you need to get yourself get your clicks higher.
Their suggestions:
Insure that you include in your title: keywords and where you are located
Make sure your first paragraph tells exactly what you are doing
If people get there they better find the right information or they will click away.

So, is your website effective?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

and I voted...

Don't forget to vote on Tuesday!
...oh, in all of that craziness this week, I voted by absentee ballot. My brother, his wife and my mom did the same thing., since we will all be in Cleveland on election day. It's that important.

heart surgery and the Lion King...

Man, it has been a hectic couple of weeks.
I went to Indianapolis and have returned and now am getting ready for my big trip to Indianapolis-Cleveland-Indy-Southern Illinois-Indy-Lion King-home.
As you may know, my youngest brother is having heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.
I'm flying to Indianapolis today. I'll pick up my mother there and we are driving to Cleveland tomorrow, where my brother will have his surgery on Monday. He and his wife have been in Cleveland since Wednesday getting tests.
We will be there for a couple of days, while he has his surgery, then return to Indy to help watch his three young children.
After he returns to Indy, mom and I will head south to visit my 92 year old grandmother.
We will return after a couple of days and then we are going to go see the Lion King!
Then I will head back home to Virginia.
In between all this I am working at a different Starbucks this week. That's another story in it self entirely.
And trying to coordinate a stage design (or two).
Yesterday and this morning been sending messages back and forth to our creative team, as the gal who was working on the stage backdrop has gotten sick and not able to complete this weeks design and her family has been sick all week. Poor thing.
This morning we are trying to arrange to have part of the remainder of the cardboards from the cardboard testimonies picked up (she lives 45 minutes away from the church) and transported to the church. Fun stuff.
Thankfully I work with a super team who is picking up the slack and praying for my family.
On that note, I'm am letting God handle this and going to go take my clothes out of the dryer to pack.
How has your week gone? What are you doing this weekend?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

unquenchable worshipper...

Read a really good book yesterday.

The Unquenchable Worshipper (Matt Redman)

"Worship leaders, we are on a sacred journey. The cargo is precious and the mission is vital. If we are really see our King’s pleasure in this whole worship music movement, then there are some narrow paths we need to cling to. At times it may seem more attractive to find pleasure from the people. Many of you have a lot of gifting and could certainly impress a lot of people. If you really wanted to, you could grab a lot of attention for yourself. But, the challenge is to stay pure and true to the cause. Always keep in mind the end of the journey-the pleasure of the king over you as you bring your unspoiled offering to him and him alone. "

a broken Kingdom...

It's early in the morning, still dark and I know that I am not alone...

...out there all of you are up early (yet again) preparing for worship today. It is an honor to serve with all of you.

We did cardboard testimonies today. If you haven't seen this powerful type of testimony, then check this one out.

We hope to have ours posted soon. It was unbelievable how God moved.
We had about 30 people who prepped ahead of time to share, then invited others to come forward and share, probably had about 25 more share. God was honored and glorified greatly today!

Worship Set 1
Be Glorified

Welcome & Greet

Message: Jesus’ Kingdom: A Broken Kingdom

Worship Set 2
Poverty - Jason Upton

Chris (pastor) came up with his card and explains cardboard testimonies
Cardboard Testimonies (rehearsed and planned ahead)
All of the Words - Kutless

Worship Set 3
Chris to bridge for congregation to come and make their own cardboard testimonies and share them at this point.

Jesus Paid it All
Grace Like Rain
Mighty to Save

What is your cardboard testimony?
This is being submitted as part of Sunday Set List blog carnival at Fred McKinnon's blog. Come and see the hearts of worship leaders.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Jesus' Kingdom: An Exclusive Club

Sunday Set List for Cross Current Ministries October 19th, 2008
It’s hard to describe how well everything blended together today. The music was really rocked out, which I personally love.
We have an amazing lead electric guitarist who only is able to play every 4-6 weeks. We had him, a bass player, drums and our worship leader (playing both electric and acoustic).

No stage set today, everything was focused on a personal invitation to step into God.
Everyone received an actual invitation to the “Exclusive Club” along with “reserved” seating.

Worship Set 1
Blessed Be Your Name

Welcome & Greet

Our missionary to China spoke with a video- it was really cool.

Worship Set 2
Invitation to the wedding banquet – a spoken word about…
The Stand

Message: Jesus’ Kingdom Pt. 2: An Exclusive Club

Worship Set 3
Thank You

At other churches, I have often found musical interludes distracting for worship (just a me thing), but today was spot on. Everyone was worshiping so strongly through out. It was flat out sweet. I think it has to do with how much prayer our worship team puts into their offering.
I have a question: how do you handle musical interludes?

This is part of the Sunday Set List 13, blog carnival at Fred McKinnon's blog. A place where wroship leaders and worshipers alike share their SUnday Set lists.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sunday set list 12...

Wow, I’m not sure how to act this weekend. After weeks and weeks of logistics, setting up stage designs and breaking down, I have the weekend off.
I had to fight the urge to slip in and help out. Have to realize that this gives other people opportunities to shine. I know that in my mind. And I know it will be wonderful. (and it was).
But I have found myself wondering how the design is going…
I will be out of town a lot over the coming 6 weeks.
So this weekend I truly am just a worshiper.
Next week I’ll be a visitor… I think I will share the Sunday set list from where I attend next week.

Worship Set 1
Oh Praise Him

The creative element was pulled from our Cross Current Classic vaults…
Barbie’s House

(This is from the mad mind of Bill. He has some incredible stuff. For more check this out...from the mad mind of Bill)

Welcome and Greet

Our worship leader shared a story about her trip to serve at Passion Kampala, Uganda, Africa.
It was an amazing story. Very touching. A modern day version of the parable of the widow and the coin. I will try to post her story later this week.
Then she shared a song she had written some time ago. I’m going to try to get the words from her.
Special Song
I Surrender

Worship Set 2
Here Am I
Exalted (Yahweh)- reprised I Surrender and back to Exalted

Message- It Ain’t Suburbia. We are focusing the next few weeks of this series to address the reality of our nation’s economic situation vs. the eternal view of God’s Kingdom.

Worship Set 3

Overall, it was one of those days that was amazing.
This is part of the Fred McKinnon's Sunday Set list blog carnival. Come see what's happening in worship across the nation.

some hot set designs...

Here are some hot set designs I gathered up this week...

@ derrick logan

@josh lazar

@gracepoint ssl

@ worship tech online

Have you found some hot set designs this week?


The "Flobots" element was kicked to the curb.

blowing of the shofar...

This vid has a good explanation of the meaning behind the "blowing of the shofar". The actual blowing of the shofar isn't that great.

How do we disengage our minds from the everyday stresses we walk in with on Sunday - to prepare ourselves to enter into the presence of God?
– how to engage the hearts and minds of people in a Sunday morning worship experience. Lately, we’ve been exploring a variety of ways to call people to worship – to help move them from a place of neutrality or even passivity toward a posture of readiness for the presence of God and anticipation for what might happen.- Nancy Beach
I gather many creative teams struggle with this.
The 5 minute count-down has no apparent meaning now. I must admit ours has fallen into a rut.
-Five minute count-down
-Musical intro
-Leading into the first worship set.
People still are straggling in during the first two songs.
So in reality the people aren’t drawn into the worship experience often until after the Meet and Greet.
We have even discussed this when deciding on the placement of a creative worship element. We sort of default the placement until after the Meet and Greet.

I believe we need to start intentionally designing a more focused time of “call to worship”.

Blowing of the shofar? Both figuratively and literally?
The shofar says: "Wake up from your (moral) sleep. You are asleep. Get up from your slumber. You are in a deep sleep. Search for your behavior. Become the best person you can. Remember God, the One Who created you." Mishneh Torah, Laws of Repentance 3:4

What does it take to engage – attract people into the presence of God?

What are your experiences of intentionally drawing people into worship?

Friday, October 10, 2008

there is a continuum…

Entice the skeptic, challenge the lukewarm and inspire the mature believer to new levels of passion...

I don’t think that “relevant” necessarily is the same thing everywhere you go.
Just six months ago, I was working with a group church plant from my current church, not 15 miles from here (Metro Washington D.C.) and it should have been flat out country western in flavor.
There is a place for all “styles” of worship. As long as it is authentic and designed to glorify God.
Personally for me, it’s rock worship.
For my youngest brother (37) it is vintage traditional (Presbyterian) complete with vaulted ceilings, choir loft, magnificent pipe organ, stained glass windows and classical (think Handel) worship.
The “style” of worship doesn’t matter as much as knowing “who” you are called to reach.

The “enticement” part for me is a sort of a tool to get them in the door. A connecting piece. Something that enables them to drop the wall of incredulity…
It also needs to be sincere, not merely manipulative.
Once they enter that space of worship they need to see genuine hearts worshiping God- our God of love and transformation.
God will handle the transformation.

We need to take what God has given us and work within that framework.

I spent many years as a lukewarm believer. There was a disconnect from my head to my heart. When I finally turned my life completely over to Christ is when I was radically transformed. I desperately wish that all people could know this place of transformation.

There is also a piece that involves increasing “mature believers” passion. To go beyond just feeding ourselves. Raising their level of passion, so that our hearts break for what breaks His.

All of this leads us back out into the world.

I truly believe in the great commission. Each and every one of us is called to “go”. Working at Starbucks is what works for me. I know I have far more God conversations at work, than I do anywhere else in my life. Maybe for others it’s an indie coffee house or being a bartender or competitive poker playing.

I merely find it amusing that God calls me into the land of piercings, tattoos and the disenfranchised. I gave up a long time ago trying to figure out God’s calling, I just go where He leads me.

What is your heart calling?

This is in response to my blogging buddy Chris at prophets and popstars comment on my post about the mind of the skeptic…

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

the mind of the skeptic…

I am almost hesitant to share my not so random thoughts this morning…

I spend about equal amounts of time hanging out with skeptics, as I do with the “churched”.
I am constantly amazed that God has placed me in this position.
I am over 50.
Fluffy (nice way to say I’m not thin)
And a grandmother of four.
I am madly and passionately in love with God and an extremely grateful follower of Christ.

For some astonishing reason the skeptics actually like to hang out with me.

I believe…

Everyone who knows me understands that I am a follower of Christ, but they also know I don’t beat them over the head with the Bible, I pray that I am always very real and non-judgmental.
I love sharing frank discussions about their life journey.

It’s actually kind of cute sometimes. Monday-one of my peeps was bashing Christians (and rightly so), then turned to me and said “I’m sorry”, acknowledging my faith journey. But, she was right and I totally agreed with her. She has a mad hate on with Christians. And I understand why.

We work at Starbucks and she was sharing how the “Christians” stopping off at Starbucks on their way home from being so holy are rude and disrespectful to the barista’s, often cursing; after blithely dropping Christian tracks into the tip jar. That is the “witness” my dear skeptics see every week.
I’d actually prefer that Ned Flanders would come by for his latte…

What I know from the skeptics p.o.v.:
They want authentic relationships -they want to be able to be real…
Do not want to be judged - they want to be safe…
Have huge stereotypes of Christians. Which are most often based in realities. They don't want their lives to be changed, because they don't want to become like what they perceive "us" to be.
They are having real time spiritual conversations, just not with “Christians”.

Sort of related, sort of not….

Fast forward to Tuesday: When I am with our creative team I constantly viewing everything we do through the eyes of the skeptic.

I am continually bewildered when our creative team (comprised mostly of 25-35 something’s) get locked into designing from their point of view.
Can’t they see how locked into their own post-modern, Christian world view they are?
Completely missing what is now culturally relevant for the next up and coming generation? Or even people their age, but that are unchurched.
This isn’t the 80’s, or the 90’s, this is 2008.
They used to be cutting edge, when they were a fledgling young adult ministry. They were impacting lives.

But, now it seems to be that they are designing from memory instead of imagination…

Please understand that any discussion like this we need agree on the premise that we all are seeking to glorify God and we are uncompromising in sharing Word. And know that God is able to work through anything.
But I believe in giving God a fighting chance…

How many “skeptics” do you hang out with?
Are you designing from memory or imagination?

I apologise if this doesn't make sense, but it makes sense in my mind...