5 Ways to Keep Your Sanity During December

Here we are again. It’s December. The blog posts are fewer, the tweets are less consistent and my email response time is probably at an all time low. If you’re in creative ministry, this is crunch time. It gets no busier than this! So, how do you deal with the busiest time of year without feeling like ground beef come December 26th? Here are 5 things that should help a lot…

– Plan WAY Ahead: If you’re just now planning out your 5 Christmas Eve services, when and where to place the Kids Choir in your service and what to do to make your stage look “Christmasy”, you’re in deep junk! Though it’s probably impossible to wrap everything up in November, you should have a working “model” of your Christmas services and all that goes with them before the first snow hits the ground.

– Use Your Team: You have a team right? Use them! There’s no reason for you to be the “line up maker/set designer/video editor/light hanger”. If you’re doing it all, you’re doing yourself, your church and your family a disservice. Lean on the giftedness of the people God has placed around you.

– Take a Day Off: Yep, you heard that right. In the middle of the busiest time of your year, schedule an extra day or two during the month to call your own. Even when things are at their craziest, you can always look forward to that day of rest. I took just such a day on Monday and it has completely refreshed me!

– Focus Harder on Your Family: You’re not getting out of December working a 40 hr. work week. You know it, I know it and your family knows it. That makes your time at home even more important. Remember, even though this is your busiest time, it’s also a special time for your family. Go the extra mile to make an investment at home.

– Prioritize: Easter isn’t until April! It’s nice to be ahead, but dialing in your focus will benefit you a lot this month. Put off what can be put off, delegate what can be delegated and take on only what you MUST take on.

Anyhow…these are some things that I’m working hard to utilize this month. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes!

The Interactive Sermon Bumper Pt.2

Here’s what we did for week 2 of our “Crossroads” series at Sunnybrook. I’m a fan of the 1st alternate ending myself.

 

The Interactive Sermon Bumper Pt.1

For our latest series at Sunnybrook, we’re trying something new: “The Interactive Sermon Bumper”. The series is called “Crossroads” and each week we play a video showing someone with a decision to make. The catch is we’ve shot 2 different endings. How do we choose which ending to play? We let the congregation decide that by applause.

We’re 4 weeks in and the response has been fantastic. So, here’s the first bumper (along with both alternate endings) – The cute kid at the end is my little guy, Turner! – Enjoy

Dealing With The Average

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Here are just a few things your average church goer DOES NOT DO:

-Serve every weekend

-Come to Sunday morning and Wednesday night services AND engage in a small group

-Discuss the weekend’s message around the dinner table

-Give 10%

-Spend daily time with God

-Understand what worship REALLY is

-Share their faith with those they can influence

So what do we do about it? Do we launch program after program trying to draw people in to the deeper part of the journey? Do we beg and plead from the stage about how badly God wants their all? Do we wrap everything in the slickest packaging we can muster and fire it off at the bullseye we’ve placed on peoples foreheads? Or…DO WE SET THE STANDARD?

Let’s be honest. Even though you may be in ministry full-time doesn’t mean you do all of the things listed above. How often does your quiet time get replaced by the busy work of ministry? How often do you check out during the message simply from brain fatigue? Do you REALLY talk about the message around the dinner table? Do you manage your finances well enough that 10% is even doable for you? I know I’ve struggled in a number of these areas and I suspect that the struggle will always be there.

Ministry is hard and often overwhelming, but if we can manage to prioritize what God is asking of us as Christ Followers over what our jobs requires of us we just might be able to be standard bearers to the people we have been called to serve…just a thought.

 

 

chchchchanges

bowie

I have a list of 5 people I’d like to see perform before I die…David Bowie is one of them…but that’s beside the point. This post is about CHANGE. Ahh yes…my favorite subject. I love change in the context of church life, because it’s an essential part of effective ministry, yet our ministries are centered around a God who NEVER changes. I don’t know about you, but I find that fascinating.

If God never changes, then why should we? If God is perfection, shouldn’t we strive to be just as perfectly unchanging as He is? There’s the key…God IS perfection…and we ARE NOT. Ministry must change and move at a constant in order to effectively and consistently engage an imperfect and shifting culture. Churches are dying by the thousands in an attempt to hold on to an unchanging philosophy. Communities are looking everywhere BUT the church to find hope and real answers in troubling times. God hasn’t changed. His love, mercy, compassion and heart for His people is as intense and alive as ever, the problem is, the church hasn’t changed much either.

I came to Christ in 1980 because of a week at camp where God became real to me. I had a counselor who invested consistent one on one time with me over the week. He told me about God in a way that made sense to a 10 year old boy. He didn’t speak “christianese” or lay down a bunch of legalistic rules and regulations. He didn’t make me take communion, or memorize 100 verses or sit through a years worth of flannel-graph driven Sunday school classes. He simply formed a relationship, molded his approach and shared how God had changed his life. If I had been a 20 year old, He would have approached things differently, but I wasn’t. I was just a kid. A kid who needed Jesus and He made sure I could understand that.

It seems so simple doesn’t it? If the church could change from religion to relationships…from rules to relevancy…from Christianese to real language, amazing things would happen. There are so many churches that are doing just that and hitting it out of the park right now. Lives are being transformed all over the planet, but there are many more that are continuing to swing and miss over and over again. I have a hard time believing that God designed His church to be so small minded.

Maybe that’s the problem right there. When the church is run by our thinking, vision, strategy and purpose, it lives and dies with us. Think what would happen if God’s church as a whole got over itself. Now THAT would be a change!

10 Ways To Clear Up Creative Constipation

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We’ve all been there. At the moment when you and your team need to be the most creative…NOTHING COMES OUT! You’re stalled, stopped up, CONSTIPATED! For me, it happens 3 or 4 times a year and never at an opportune time. There’s nothing worse than trying to force art and certainly nothing less satisfying than seeing a project roll out that’s well below expectations. So I thought I’d lay out 10 creative laxatives that have done the trick for me and my team.

– Don’t be Afraid to Wipe – Sometimes the best remedy is to wipe the canvas clean and start over. If dumping a weeks worth of work will finally bring a project to fruition…go for it!

– Move Your Tush – Sometimes it’s a change of venue that unclogs the pipes. Grab your computer, lift your butt off your chair and go somewhere else…anywhere but your office!

– Read the Paper – Okay, you’ll have to forgive the bathroom analogies…but work with me here. Grab a good creative magazine (for me it’s Live Design) and start reading. Or, go to flickr and enter a search term like “Stage Design” and see what comes up. You’d be amazing how inspiring others creativity can be.

– How About a Courtesy Flush? – Chances are you have a ton of things on your plate. It may be time to flush some of it and delegate it to someone else. It’s hard to be creative when you have your mind wrapped around a million things at once.

– Renuzit Duzit – Sometimes all you need is a little fresh air, a walk around the building or a quick jaunt to Starbucks. After all…nothing stinks worse than stopped up creativity.

– Maybe You Should Take Something – Yep I said it…Sometimes you need something to soften the flow of creativity. Maybe it’s adding a new person to your team or asking someone to take a break. You’d be amazed what can happen if you just shake things up a bit.

– PUSH! – I hate to say it, but there ARE moments when you just need to push harder. Order a pizza, bring in the coffee, lock your team in the room and start working through the blockage.

– Give it a Rest – Don’t be afraid to sleep on it for a night. Creativity flows best when we’re rested, focussed and not so stressed out. Sometimes the panic of being creatively blocked can be your worst enemy.

Warm Up the Seat First – Have your team search for random things they find inspiring and bring them to your next meeting. Spend a few moments warming up the creative process by talking about what they found.

Work Through the Discomfort – Unfortunately, there are times when the creative process is just simply uncomfortable. Sometimes you have to create through the pain. Just because you’re creatively constipated doesn’t mean you can’t create…it just means the process will be longer and more difficult than normal. You can do it!

 

What’s Your Strategy?

strategy

Momentum in ministry is a really big deal. All it takes is one wrong turn and the sails deflate, the vision blurs and you and your team find yourselves in search of direction. This past week has been a strategy check for me. Even though I have 4 incredible music teams, a flourishing tech team, a great creative team, a new Music Director and a Partridge in a pear tree, I know that we are one mis-step away from losing all of this forward motion.

I’ve spent the last several days rethinking everything we do creatively at Sunnybrook. Even though we seem to be firing on all cylinders at the moment, what we do now may not be what’s best around the corner. Ministry, environment, technology, culture, perception…everything is changing and changing constantly. If we fail to strategize, we may fail on a much larger scale down the road.

For us, this kind of planning will take shape in specific ways…for you, it may flesh itself out differently. The important thing is that we strive to be ahead of the curve. We need to be leading the change instead of catching up to it all the time. More details coming soon.