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!

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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.

Our New Worship Environment

One of my greatest passions is creating worship environments. I love creating those “encounter moments” where people find themselves drawn closer to God in worship. Last week, we launched the“Worship Cafe'” here at Sunnybrook and I couldn’t be happier with the results. The Cafe’ features table seating, free flowing coffee, new lighting and more of an “unplugged” musical atmosphere. The purpose behind the Cafe’ is really two fold:

1. We wanted to create a more intimate atmosphere for people to pursue God in worship

2. We wanted to create a smaller environment for those who struggle with the big crowds in the main auditorium.

So far, the crowds have been incredibly diverse. Young, old, traditional, contemporary, visitors, seekers and regular attenders have all been joining us in the Cafe’. Here are a few pics from yesterday’s gathering.

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.

What If…

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Can you imagine what would happen if the church woke up to its God given calling to worship? What if the church as a whole sought to worship God every moment of every day? What if we looked to glorify Him in every conversation, every circumstance and every nuance of our lives? What if the church quit being about itself and started being about the worth of God? What if the very fabric of who we are was lined with praises, held together by adoration and worn as an expression of the greatness of God? What if the world could see the majesty of God through the way His people honor Him? What if people could actually come in off the street and feel the tangible presence of God through the praises of His people?

What if we lived out what we were created for in the first place?

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.