Everything that has been created started the same way. With a blank canvas. An empty slate. It all begins with a chance to create something that didn?t exist before.
The pressure we have as creatives to create something that didn?t exist before is what makes what we do both fulfilling and terrifying. It?s our job to take an idea and bring it to execution. And for creatives that are working within a church, it?s our job to do this every single Sunday.
Here?s the thing about Sundays. They happen every single week. They don?t take a break. There?s a rhythm to it that we can always depend on.
For creative teams, we have the ability to lean into this natural rhythm and use it to our advantage?or we can fight it. Sadly, when I talk to most creatives working at churches, the rhythm they are stuck in is a perpetual state of chaos. Everything is always too busy, they?re always behind, and don?t have the info they need to do their best work.
Getting a service from idea to execution is a process that churches do every single week of the year. Isn?t it time that we get good at the process for how we do this? It?s not easy. But it?s worth it.
In my role as Creative Arts Director at West Ridge Church, one of the most important things I must do for our team to do their best work is to set them up for success. To give vision, structure, clarity, and expectations for everything that we do.
In planning a huge service like Easter (or any service for that matter), this is the timeline and structure we use to keep all of our teams on track.
The #1 way to help set your creative team up for success is to plan ahead. This is the timeline and structure we use to guide how we plan our teaching series.
- Starts with mapping out big picture teaching topics in a series calendar planning.
- The series, teaching topics, and key scriptures for each week are mapped out in a series overview document.
- Creative Arts team meets to discuss the creative direction for the series and how we can bring the topic to life in our services.
- Communications team brainstorms the visual direction and communication strategy.
- Each individual service is planned with songs, creative elements, worship elements, and teaching.
- The goal is to have an intentional process for each team to move from the big picture vision of the series all the way down to the plan for each individual service.
I?d be lying to you if I said that we?re always able to stick to this plan. Schedules get crazy and things happen. Here are 8 tips I?ve found to be incredibly helpful for keeping us on track for series planning.
Behind The Scenes of Easter at West Ridge
Before starting the creative process for Easter, I wanted to get clarity around what the big idea of the teaching would be.
At this early stage, it doesn?t mean that we have a full outline or transcript. It means we know a general direction for theme, scripture, and tone of the teaching. Months out from the service, we?re looking to be able to tell the story of the service in a sentence. That sentence will help guide everything we do after that point.[quote]Months out from the service, we?re looking to be able to tell the story of the service in a sentence.[/quote]
For this year?s Easter service, we wanted to tie in the series we?re doing after Easter called Elephant In The Church, and tackle a huge question many have, ?Is Jesus really alive? Is this true?? The story we?re telling through this service is going to be based some around the story of Thomas in John 20:24-29 where he?s struggling with doubt. We?ll be sharing that not only is Jesus alive, but also He?s alive in us.
After getting clarity around the big idea, we planned a time for our whole Creative Arts team to get away from the office and do a brainstorm meeting.
The objective of this meeting was to find creative solutions to these questions:
- What are some ways we can create buzz and awareness of Easter in our community?
- What are some wow moments we can create that would lead to a memorable Easter experience?
- How can we creatively tell the story of how Christ is alive and alive in us?
- What do you think we need to accomplish through our Easter experience this year?
Creative solutions are always found by the problems that we solve. I?ve found our best results as a creative team happen when we present a compelling problem we need to solve, and come up with solutions from there.
The purpose of this meeting was not to evaluate the ideas or put anything specific into action. It was to dream, think big picture, and throw ideas on the table that we could evaluate later on. After a week or so, we narrowed the focus of the ideas we came up with to see what was resonating with us the most as time went on.
Once we debriefed from the creative brainstorm, we started to put together a creative brief that would establish our visual direction for Easter. This started by putting together a Pinterest board full of inspiration ideas that we liked and wanted to pull from. After that, we put together a creative brief?to give to our designer for the project.
At 8 weeks out, we began putting the shell of the service together. The planning of this service is and will be an organic process that happens over the course of weeks and will continue all the way until the first service.
We put the most energy into developing the opener and message lead in and working through how we?d handle the offering and closing of the service. After that, we started placing songs that would tie one consistent thread across the service.[quote]Some of the best adjustments we make to our creative work is in the time that we have to sit with and evaluate what we?ve planned.[/quote]
Here has been the key to us for planning ahead: Some of the best adjustments we make to our creative work is in the time that we have to sit with and evaluate what we?ve planned. When you?re not constantly producing things at the last minute, you give yourself the breathing room to look for ways to add value to what you?re producing. You have room to listen to the songs back-to-back, get feedback from others on video content, and project what could go wrong so that you can go into the service with confidence. Our desire more than anything is that we can create a distraction-free environment where we can get out of the way and see people connect with God. Planning ahead will help you and your team accomplish that.