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

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chchchchanges

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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?

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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.

10 Things I’m Convinced Are True

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Straight talk is better than beating around the bush.

Ministries falter when they become more concerned with popularity than their God given mission.

Insisting on having all original ideas is a pride issue. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there…use it!

Creativity is a gift from a creative God. Leveraging that creativity for the gospel is putting the arm of God in motion.

God doesn’t give fuzzy vision. If you’re not clear where God is leading your organization, you’re probably missing the obvious.

Offering anything but our all is short changing God.

Striving towards your God given vision is going to make some people unhappy…count on it!

People will disappoint you…and you will disappoint people.

If you don’t care about what’s happening outside the 4 walls of your church, I can promise you…you’re missing the call of God.

You can’t lose momentum if you’re striving passionately towards the vision.

Raise, Build and Get Out of the Way

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This Sunday I had the chance to experience our worship environment from a different perspective. I wasn’t on stage, I wasn’t at the soundboard, I wasn’t running lights or video…I was simply there. When it comes to running a creative ministry, it really gets no better than watching your team do what they do…and do it well. From a leadership standpoint, there is no greater moment than when someone steps in to lead people, hits it out of the park and does so without you standing next to them.

A vibrant creative ministry, at its core, is all about raising up leaders, building teams and getting out of the way. If your creative teams and processes center around you and only you…it won’t be long before your ministry is drained of any kind of momentum. Forward motion will become a thing of the past and you will simply find yourself stuck in one place. 

Great creativity cannot thrive in one place…it needs to move, breath and expand. Great creative ministries are really no different. If you want momentum…Raise up people, build your teams…and get out of the way!

Questions

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If I’ve learned anything over my years in ministry, it’s to not be afraid to ask questions. There are a lot of benefits to understanding the “why” behind the “what”. I’ve also learned that there are no stupid questions. Sometimes, we’re simply not on the same wavelength as everyone else and we need to ask our way towards understanding.

We had a great example of this here at Sunnybrook last week. We’re launching a series later this fall centered around 3 facets of God (Father, Forgiver and Friend). My creative team jumped all over this one and we had some great ideas right off the bat…but we just couldn’t make it all fit together. As we read through the series outline from our Sr. Pastor, we realized we were missing some of the pieces…we didn’t quite get where he was wanting to take the series. So…we asked. We had him sit in with us at the next creative team meeting and within 30 minutes had a total understanding of the vision behind this series. If we hadn’t of asked, we would have fell short. The creative pieces wouldn’t have matched the vision and the effectiveness of the message would have been muted.

As leaders, not only do we need to willingly ask questions, we also need to be receptive to questions being asked of us. The same principle applies. If your team doesn’t have a clear understanding of the vision behind the mission, then your success as a ministry will be muted.

There’s one simple rule to follow: When in doubt…ask.