A spark to a flame

A big group of our youth went to Soul Survivor this summer, my eldest daughter included, and they had a ball! They all came back excited, passionate and full of ideas and songs we could use at EBC.

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We were able to watch a lot of the evening celebrations on God TV this year, which for us was also a fabulous experience…seeing and hearing what they were doing every night (from the comfort of our sofa with a nice cup of tea…so we’re not experiencing the Pot Noodles and damp camp site…) They want to put a youth band together to lead the songs they were using in the Big Top, have different ideas about services, stage setting, lighting and prayer. And its a great thing to see and hear.

But as I talked about some time ago, vision leaks. And so does excitement and passion.

We are just back from summer holidays (hence a complete lack of posting on my part), where we had no pulls on our time, no school, not as much work, a reduced service schedule. An opportunity to have family time, catch up on some things around the house, lazy mornings, movie evenings, too much food. But a chance to refill, refuel, rejuvenate and recharge ready for the return to school/work/church. And Soul Survivor did this for our young people…they came back overflowing with excitement, ideas, Spirit and passion.

But now we’re back, we’re two weeks into school and work, and holidays seem like a lifetime away. In fact at one point last week we felt more tired than we had before we’d been on holiday!

We as leaders, as parents, as part of the church need to nurture our youth. If they want to put a band together, introduce new songs into our services, produce creative ideas and input experiences and ways of working learnt at Soul Survivor, we need to encourage it. We need to make it happen!

Otherwise all of the passion, energy and Spirit will leak out of them before we get to Christmas. And just like the post holiday blues…a few weeks will go by and we will have settled into “normal” daily life…the holiday experience and refueling feeling like a distant memory as we count down the days until Friday/the weekend/the next holiday.

Like a spark to a flame, the potential is there for something big and fiery. But if it’s not nurtured, protected, handled properly, it will extinguish.

I don’t know how we’re going to do all of this. But I’m going to try. We will have a band with our youth. We will start to incorporate some of the songs they worshiped to (already have!). We are getting a plan in place as to how we can more frequently and strategically use our youth in services…not just on “special” Sundays. And I am sure that as we do this, they will push us, they will encourage us, they will supersede us and we can watch them grow amazingly.

Simplicity

The summer holidays are zooming by, and half of the things we had planned to do we haven’t done…oh well. As we’re actually properly away next week on a proper holiday, I’m trying to work through my “to do” before we run out of time…so Sunday planning, new song lists, rotas…all the fun stuff…

My eldest is off at Soul Survivor this week in Somerset along with the youth from EBC and about 9,000 other young people. I am most jealous not to be there, but a real bonus this year has been God TV broadcasting the evening celebrations, so we have been sharing in it (and she’s been texting us “you have to watch this talk, you have to listen to this song!” etc… Soul Survivor also blog their new song lists so we can take what has been sung in the big top and share it in our churches. And I was working through our autumn song lists today, so I thought I’d get ahead of everybody coming back next week “You have to do this, this is the greatest song ever, no really, it goes like this, you have to do it!” (and that’s just from our senior minister….)

Anyhow, I was listening to some of the songs they have been using, and I came across this gem from Rend Collective, Simplicity. And it got me thinking about where we’re at currently; at home, at work, and at church. Let me explain further…

Simplicity

This summer we undertook to redecorate and reflow our lounge. The reasons were twofold, 1. it really was looking a bit tired having survived 13 years and 3 children growing up, throwing up, potty training and the like. And 2. our middle daughter, Noo got diagnosed with being her allergic to dust, so the carpet had to go to alleviate her breathing. It was a major project, as we had to get everything out of the lounge in order to get the floor up, so the 13 years of books, CD’s, ornaments and toys had to be vacated before we could even think about shifting the furniture. Military planning was involved, the kids went off to the grandparents, and fortunately the weather was good enough that the furniture could live on the patio for a few days. And we did it, and it looks great…but we didn’t want to just put everything back in. So books have been passed on, toys have been downsized, all of the CD’s have gone into slipcases, the hifi has stayed but is in a sleek glass rack with new, smaller speakers and the TV is on the wall. We have simplified our cluttered lounge, and it feels a restful place to be again.

I have recently started my own business which in some respects is a big deal, and in others just feels like a natural progression. I work from home the majority of the time, I can set my own hours, I am trying as hard as I can to eliminate paper and to all intents and purposes, as long as I have my laptop and phone, I can work from anywhere, anywhen. No office, no staff, no files…simple.

And finally, church. We seem to struggle in the same way Spinal Tap did in retaining drummers…fortunately none of them have died in strange accidents, but again this term we are drummerless. Now I’ve tried to make sure this doesn’t affect our services, or our repertoire, but again listening to some of the recent Hillsong and Soul Survivor songs, they are very rhythm led, and there is a concern we won’t be able to be as contemporary without a full rhythm section. But you know, taking a step back, rearranging some of the songs and taking a different approach makes me think we can do this, if we approach it in a simple way. A good song is a good song whether it has five guitars and two drummers, or is led by one bloke on an acoustic.

Keep It Simple

We can cram our lives, our work, our services with things, and quite often nice and good things, but stripping out, making space, keeping things simple allows us to focus on what is important, whether its the space around us, the clients we work with or the God we worship. Of course I love having a drummer in the band (I love being the drummer in the band!), and the haze machines, jumping and moving lights are great! But God doesn’t need it, we don’t need to complicate things, and so this term we’re going to concentrate on simple and effective worship with some space to breathe, think and worship. Want to join me in our simplicity?

Nothing New Under the Sun

Have you heard of the IXI, or the SaeHan/Eiger MPMan? Me neither. I have heard of the Zune, and the Diamond Rio. But most of us know about the iPod…I somehow have three of them.mp3_evolution_1-100350068-gallery.idge

Karl Benz invented what is recognised as the first motor car back in 1885, but it was the Ford Model T in 1908 which became popular, usable and affordable. The English chemist Joseph Swan invented a lightbulb in 1850, but as Victorian vacuum pumps weren’t very effective, it never went into production, so Thomas Edison some 30 years later was credited with inventing the lightbulb (after more than 3,000 attempts).

I’m typing this from my MacBook (Apple Fanboi…), and while Apple is recognised as the originator of the Graphic User Interface, using a mouse and desktop (which was subsequently “borrowed” by Windows…), Steve Jobs actually got the idea from the Xerox 8010. Yes, I had to look that up too…

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

I posted the other week about our new stage design for our series “Boats of the Bible“, which consisted of a boat (surprise) and a series of neon inner tubes across our backcloth. While I would love to take credit for this (and I was the one who produced all of the puff to inflate them and put them up), the idea was not mine. It came from Pinterest, which as many of you know is a great source of ideas and inspiration.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says:

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

The phrase “There is nothing new under the sun” is common in society, even being used by Shakespeare in one of his sonnets. We can make life difficult for ourselves, put ourselves under pressure to reinvent the wheel each week, come up with something new and different every Sunday. I try to write a new drama every Christmas for our Christingle service, have a new theme for our Christmas services and feel bad if we reuse a song or clip rather than something brand new and different.

Everything new?

But we don’t need to. We can source ideas from Pinterest, Facebook, Blogs (like this one!) and sharing with other leaders. We can copy, refine, adapt and integrate ideas, presenting them in a way which benefits our congregation, works in our churches and is achievable with the resources we have. And this applies to all aspects of our worship services…while I’d love to be able to play Cornerstone or Oceans with a Hillsong sized band, we are able to worship with our band of five…even if there is no drummer (and only 1 guitarist instead of 5!) This Christmas (as I have done before), instead of writing something completely new I’m going to adapt a book I’ve found.

Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player, Henry Ford wasn’t the creator of the automobile and while Edison clearly had a lightbulb moment, he wasn’t the first. But what they did do was take what existed, refined it, added their ideas and personal touch to it and made it into something better. And we can do exactly the same.

Beg, borrow, steal?

So next time you’re sweating over a Sunday, struggling to come up with ideas and discarding the obvious or already done…step back, take a breather, beg, borrow and steal and remember there is nothing new under the sun…

Get On Board!

We’ve just this past Sunday started our new Summer series, snappily titled Boats Of The Bible. This is the stage decor we’ll be having for the next six weeks!

Get On Board!As you can probably see, we have utilised a lot of inflatables! The boat came with a pump, but the neon inner tubes were purely manual…I had to stop half way through so I didn’t black out!

All of the materials came from Amazon or eBay, all in we spent less than 100 pounds and much of it can be used again. And I put it all together in a couple of hours one evening, again using paperclips and cable ties to mount everything to our curtains.

Small Effort + Big Impact.

I’ve mentioned before about the impact which can be had from changing your scenery or decor, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or drastic to be dramatic. We do have the added benefit of having a good selection of lights as well, but again, these are pretty budget (the LED Par Cans are around 30 pounds each) but still effective. To add some interesStaging Ideast, I mounted a couple of the Par Cans on microphone stands which you should just about be able to see either side of the neon inner tubes.

Of course, with a series titled Boats Of The Bible, we had to get a boat on stage as well! Now I cannot guarantee this is an authentic replica of a 2000 year old fishing boat, and taking into account how quickly it is deflating between services, I wouldn’t wholly trust it for a spot of beach paddling let alone fishing. But it is big, yellow, has oars and looks really cool on our stage, along with a  couple of decorative fishing nets and some strings of cardboard fish.

Summer Season

Boats of the Bible?Our summer series runs from the end of July to the end of August, and as it is holiday season we change our service pattern so there is one all age service at 10:15 on a Sunday. This eases the pressure on rotas for bands, leaders and the like, but also means we have one big loud service…it’s great!

The response from everyone has been overwhelmingly positive, the bright and bold colours having an effect on all ages of our congregation. There is a debate as to whether the neon rings are giant doughnuts or oversized fruit polos…but either way, they are creating a buzz and conversation, which is exactly what we want to be doing. And more than that, the effort which we put into decorating our stage is another small reflection of the effort which we put into Sundays as a whole.

So I again encourage you to put a bit of thought and effort into how you set your stage, even if it is something as simple as making sure the cables, chairs and stands are tidy. And if you’re looking for bigger ideas for how to dress your stage for future services, check in back here, or have a look at my Pinterest page where I’ve started pinning ideas…there is so much out there, I don’t know where to start.

And if you’re local, Get On Board with us this summer at EBC, it’s going to be splashing…I mean smashing…!

 

The Power of Three (or more)

I’ve written before here of my admiration, appreciation and all out love for John Mayer. While we all wait for him to release something new (it can’t be long now, can it?), here’s a clip from 2010 of The John Mayer Trio performing Try in New York:

…also featuring the talents of Steve Jordan on drums and Pino Palladino on bass, for a band of three, they make an amazing sound and show.

One of the enviable roles of being a worship leader is the rotas…and I get the privilege of doing this every term. Some may rather be playing songs, practicing their instruments, listening to new songs (or old songs) and customising their pedal boards/drum kits/music folders…but not me. No, there’s nothing I like more than sitting with a calendar and a list of people and their availability, and then working out how to fit them together… OK, so some of this paragraph may be a lie…

We put the rota together, we aim for a balanced band with the hope that come Sunday they will lead the congregation in musical worship, make a joyful and balanced sound to the Lord and through the service help the congregation encounter the Holy Spirit. And some weeks it goes really well, some weeks it goes OK, and I’m pleased to say we very rarely we have a problem.

But what does happen from time to time is we get the balance off a bit…whether it’s because we’re missing piano one week, or we only have female singers, or there are two guitarists and no drummer… We all have to work with who we’ve got, and although we are fortunate to have a good mix of musicians, we still have weeks where we can’t have drums, bass, guitars, keys and singers. And some weeks we sigh, and some weeks it feels a bit sparse, and some weeks it just works.

The point is, as illustrated by the clip; you don’t need a huge band of musicians to make a joyful noise. The John Mayer Trio is a trio (the name is a giveaway….), and we can trace the lineage back through the years…only having three people in the band didn’t hurt The Police, or Cream or The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Nirvana got on fine as a three piece as did ELP, Green Day and Muse. And taking this set up even further (or should that be diminishing?), The Black Keys, The White Stripes and Royal Blood have not struggled with being a duo…nor The Pet Shop Boys, Daft Punk and The Civil Wars.

They work (very well!) with what they have, and they make it a feature…The White Stripes and The Black Keys would sound odd if they added a bass player, just as Jimi Hendrix or Nirvana lose nothing from not having a keyboard player or female harmony. So how can we apply this to a Sunday worship team?

  1. The Fraction Principle: which we have talked about before, but in a nutshell, everyone plays to a fraction of their ability/level according to how many are in the band. So if there are five of you, a fifth, if three, then a third. You don’t overplay, but similarly, you don’t underplay. Strumming barre chords won’t cut it if there are only three of you.
  2. Listen: Three pieces (and two pieces) work because they make sure their sound fills the entire spectrum. So the bass player fills the bottom end, the guitar or keys fills the middle and adds colour, and the vocals go on top. If you’re leading on guitar or keys, don’t stay too high or too low…you need to fill the middle ground.
  3. Arrange: Every song benefits from being arranged…if you all start at the beginning and hopefully get to the end together, you’ve played the song, but everyone (including you!) will be worn out. So stops and starts, dynamics, changing sounds for different parts of the song and harmony will add texture and colour, even if the song only has three chords.
  4. Flexibility: It is much easier to work as a smaller group, if there’s only three of you then you can be really dynamic, if you’ve been playing long enough you can make changes on the fly and stop and start and communicate instantly. It’s the difference between driving a well tuned and balanced sports car (small band) as opposed to trying to steer an oil tanker through jelly (big band not really paying attention….)

I have been as guilty as the next person for bemoaning not having a drummer/missing keys on Sunday/only having girl singers, but if we approach it as a power trio and Try with what we have…I think we’d all be surprised by the results!

It’s in the presentation

Nine Inch Nails isn’t the first band you think of when it comes to presenting worship, but this clip of them live at Lollapalooza is, I think, one of the most captivating but simple performances I have ever seen. (I wasn’t actually there…but you and I have YouTube…)

Notice how there aren’t lots of fancy lights, impressive and expensive stage sets…everyone (of course) is in black and most of the band rarely look at the audience. Yet the way the set starts with a solitary ghost light illuminating Trent Reznor as he sings…then as the track builds instrumentally, so does the band…literally person by person, instrument by instrument. Even by the climax in the middle, the staging and lighting is still sparse…with enormous white flats raised behind the musicians (again one by one) with the stark floor lights casting huge dramatic shadows. Simple but effective. Striking and memorable, but on a budget.

Set Dressing

We at EBC have been working on creating a new stage set for each of our series…we already have a pretty decent setup with a good number of static LED Par Cans and a small array of moving head lights, and our stage area is draped in black curtain which outlines the stage for us and also does an extremely good job of controlling the sound in the hall. But black material is as good at absorbing light as it is at absorbing sound… We have a services budget set aside for Sundays, which is usually spent on music, props, licenses and decor, but recently we’ve started setting aside a small portion for set dressing.IMG_1260

For the past year or so we’ve had up some white muslin which provides a bit of contrast and also a creative backdrop for the lights. For Easter we took it all down and just had a stark, wooden cross which was illuminated in outline by some LED fairy lights (it sounds slightly cheesy, like a Christmas/Easter juxtaposition but trust me, it was effective and tasteful. And then when Easter was complete we started experimenting with a material called Correx, which is like a plastic corrugated cardboard (the same material which estate agent boards are made from). This is large, cheap, flexible and pretty strong.

As you cIMG_1261an see from the pictures, a couple of sheets suspended make a great backdrop. We got several sheets of the 8′ by 4′ Correx in white from eBay (a pack of 10 was around £80 including delivery). The flats were created by cutting the sheets at random angles, and then rejoining them with centimeter gaps using bent paperclips from the church office… The cuts provide interest, but also the way they then hang slightly unevenly make for interesting shadows. All in all (I made two smaller flats for the stage right as well), the cost was around £15.

We’ve also used the Correx to make light tubes which are placed over our Par Cans, and picture frames for our “50 Shades of Grace” series. There have been some questions from the congregation…looking for meaning in the randomness of the set…but the overall feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and there has been more intrigue as to how we created them!

It’s in the Presentation

So I encourage you to experiment with your sets, how you package the background, how you approach your presentation beyond song choice, sermon and printed media. Big and bold has impact, but doesn’t have to have a big budget! Check out more ideas here, and as always, go around with your eyes open for ideas…there is plenty of inspiration around if you look out for it. I’ve also been collating ideas on a Pinterest board as well.

5 things learnt from our weekend

So we’re back from our church weekend away (long time back actually…just taken a while to recover…), and it was great…really great. The weather was incredibly kind, the infrastructure (marquees, generator, toilets and showers) worked really well, the shared aspect between the two churches was wonderful and we all had a great time together. This didn’t happen by accident, so I thought I’d post about some of what we learnt in the planning from our weekend away:Tents

  1. Prepare your music in advance: We were going to be in a field for four days, so unless we brought a photocopier, we would be stuck. And similarly, rather than bringing all of our music, I figured it would be easier to select a short list of songs and then prepare folders for the weekend. That way, if it got lost, it wouldn’t matter.
  2. Rota your band in advance: I already knew who was coming, and I knew how many sessions we needed to cover. What I didn’t know for sure was what songs and feel would be required and when…but I simply rota’d a general band lineup for each session based on who we had with us.
  3. Get all of your sound and light working in advance: The weekend officially started on the Friday evening with a celebration, but some of us were there from Thursday evening preparing the lights and sound. We brought our lighting system from EBC, FBC brought their PA, and between us we had a pretty good set up which worked well all weekend.
  4. Soundcheck: Now this was slightly different from a regular Sunday, as we were going to have several different bands for each session with no time between for soundcheck. What helped us was using the In Ear Monitoring system from FBC, so we were responsible for our own stage mix. Which meant the engineer was only responsible for the Front Of House sound. We did do a line check on the Friday afternoon to make sure all was working.
  5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: None of this would have been any use if we didn’t have a band. So the planning extended back weeks, confirming who was going to be there, confirming the songs (with the band and the church office), confirming what we were going to bring, confirming everyone’s responsibility and when over the weekend.
  6. All of the above (and much much more) meant generally the weekend went really smoothly. So much so that we’re already talking about plans for our next joint weekend in 2017.

And out of these things, what can we apply to our Sunday mornings?

  1. Prepare your music in advance.
  2. Rota your band in advance.
  3. Get all of your sound and light working in advance.
  4. Soundcheck.
  5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

Simple really…

Now apologies for being offline for a week, point 6. should be “allow for recovery”….normal business has resumed and I shall be posting on Thursday… Have also been busy putting this together, my other job:

Progress

I got a new phone this past week, as I’d started the new business and my old iPhone 4s was starting to show it’s age. I upgraded to a brand new big silver iPhone 6, it’s amazing…big screen, fingerprint scanner, fast processor and 64gb of memory.Performa 6320

This is a picture of my first Mac, back in 1996 when I was a second year music student at university. It’s a Macintosh Performa 6320, and it came with a built in CD Rom drive, 120mhz processor, 12 meg of RAM and a whopping great big 1.2gb hard drive. It cost me over £3000, without a printer, and it saw me through the rest of my time at University and beyond. The year after I graduated I shared a house with some of my Uni friends, all of us had Macs, but mine was the fastest! I still have it, in the loft!

My phone, which I slip into my pocket, use to play games on the train and to Google pictures of kittens, has a processor which is 10 times the speed, over 50 times as much memory and is always connected…no dial up or waiting for a modem to download. And it certainly didn’t cost me £3000…

Now aside from asserting that I am a certified Apple fanboy, you may ask, so what? And to that I say, progress. In 20 years my big, beige, expensive desktop has transitioned into a small, shiny, fast and portable device which I slip into my pocket and generally take for granted. But if I look back…

Anniversaries!

This month sees a number of anniversaries for me, May is our wedding anniversary (16 years!), and my birthday this weekend also marks the one year anniversary of starting this blog, and also the 13 year anniversary of us moving (yes, we moved on my birthday….planning….!) to Bracknell to start the church plant which was part of EBC.

In 2002 we met as a church plant in our local sports centre, which meant loading up cars and trailers at 7:30 on a Sunday morning, transporting everything and meeting a small team to set up, rehearse, run and then clear up and hope to be home some time after lunch. Over the years our volunteers and members changed, children arrived, our senior minister moved to another church and so Chris who started as a student minister and then assistant minister became the senior minister of EBC…cue another change of direction, a bringing together of the three congregations and a gradual merging of the different teams. And we only had one child and a relatively empty house.

Where are we now?

We are now one big church with multiple expressions of worship during the week, we have actually just passed 500 regular attenders on our list. I have a big pool of musicians and artists to draw on for the band, for drama, for stage dressing, sound and lighting design. We had a major upgrade in our main hall which saw our sound go digital, plasma screens installed for the congregation and a comprehensive lighting system. Our song list has shrunk from 2000 to 300 to currently around 65. And there are now five of us sharing the space which is left in our house…

We don’t always notice this, as we’re planning for this Sunday, then next Sunday, then June. We can forget we no longer get feedback from our sound system (which always works on a Sunday and isn’t dependent on tape and string to hold it together). Although there may the odd typo on our PowerPoint very occasionally, we don’t experience our overheads being loaded back to front or not quite focusing on the screen. Bringing everybody together has led to better shared resources, less personality clashes, and a sharper focus than we had ever had in the past. Progress can seem slow in the day to day and week to week, but reviewing from past years…the rate of progress is incredible!

One of my all time favourite songs by Steven Curtis Chapman is “I am found in You“, the words of which I always come back to:

I may not see, in front of me

But I can see for miles when I look over my shoulder

Cause Lord it’s clear, You’ve brought me here

So faithful every step of the way

I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next 12 months. I’m not sure where I’ll be in the next 16 years. But I can look back, marvel at the progress, and see where I’ve come from, and who it was who brought me here. So as you look ahead and plan for the future, or as you watch YouTube movies on your phone, don’t forget to look over your shoulder, see where you’ve come from and how you got here.

But is it “Christian”?

I’ve been doing this blog for almost a year, and I’ve been sourcing and using all sorts of different artistic media for well over a decade now, and something we’ve always done at EBC is use a mix of Christian music, worship music, and secular music. Similarly our media, TV clips, movie clips and illustrations are sourced from many different backgrounds. Now I know this doesn’t make us radically different to a lot of churches, but at the same time, I would argue that we are still in the minority, especially in the UK.

The clip is a song by Josh Garrels, an artist I discovered just hhis year when he released his new album Home. His voice and artistry is, to me, a thing of absolute beauty. His songs profess an exploration of faith, although maybe not in the traditional church sense. These aren’t songs of worship, but again I would argue that they are worshipful. There is a clear spiritual thread which influences and runs through all he does.

I’ve read interviews with very famous Christian artists and songwriters where they have stated they only listen to “Christian” music, and I’ve also seen shows where the biblical direction to “be in the world but not of it” is taken to a literal extreme…so apart from living on planet earth, everything else (TV, music, relationships, shopping, phones…) is completely unacceptable.

What I’m not saying…

Now I’m not advocating incorporating the latest Lars von Trier movie into our Sunday services, or covering a Slipknot or Eminem track in it’s entirety as part of the benediction. But we acknowledge that our God is The Creator, and that we are all made in his image. So we should not be surprised when we see a spiritual influence and acknowledgement in so much art, be it paintings and drawings by past masters through to modern songs and films.

I am a drummer, so aside from having thick skin and only being able to count to four, I am well used (especially in the past) to receiving general grief from those who don’t believe drums belong in church, let alone secular and contemporary songs. Yet here we are, leading worship on electric guitar, using clips from current TV shows and movies and making use of an extensive lighting array.

…but what I am saying…

And for those who wouldn’t usually set foot in a church, if they get invited and then experience a song, or clip, or illustration which they are familiar with…well it puts that element into a completely different light, and hopefully also gives them a new understanding. We’ve used scenes from Harry Potter at Easter…a better allegory for willingly giving your life for others I’ve yet to find, we’ve used songs by Pink to illustrate family breakup, clips from Big Bang Theory, Friends and Outnumbered which show relationships in a far better setting than we could ever create. And they all raise questions, get us thinking, and set us up to be able  to then answer some of these questions with biblical truths.

The message never changes, it has remained the same and relevant for over 2,000 years. But the medium we use to communicate and share the message has to change to fit into culture. And to fit into culture, we have to understand it, and use it.

Reason To Celebrate!

In January I ran a whole series of posts on the theme “new”, including Play With Something New, All Things New, A New Old Song and A New Wooden BoxCelebration!

Well I’m delighted to report I have a new job! Well, contract. And…business too!

A bit of background: I work at EBC 1.5 days a week as Creative Arts Director, and the rest of my week is spent in the music industry, working with artists, publishers and labels on their royalties. Now in an almost perfectly divine symmetry, I’ve this month set up my own company to manage this…which means I can contract out some of my time…to the church.

So this May I’ll be starting a six month project with EBC to overhaul and refine our communications.

How we got here?

Another bit of background: As I’ve blogged about on this site regularly, we’ve spent a lot of time as a church refining our Sunday services. From the music, to the media content, to the publicity, to the language used when speaking, we even refine down to timings, orders and transitions so the Sunday service experience for any attender is something memorable, effective, and hopefully challenging and inspiring enough that they want to come back for more.

What has struck me more and more over the past few months is, while we’ve got to a stage where our worship services are consistently great, our attention to detail and systems have not been applied to …well pretty much any of our other communications. So our emails, website, social media, paper (lots of paper) while by no means bad are just not co-ordinated, generally have a disparate feel and are overseen separately by several different people.

What to do?

So my new project is to examine all we do in terms of communication output and refine it. We’ll be creating and implementing a new logo for EBC, and setting an overall theme in terms of fonts, colours and presentation so all of our output is consistent, easily identifiable as coming from EBC and beautiful! Our staff emails will all have consistent footers, in a similar font, our website will be much more user friendly especially for first time visitors. And we will finally properly bring ourselves into the 21st century with properly set up and managed social media presence.

I am really looking forward to this challenge, and what I want to do is update regularly here, as I believe it’s another important part of communicating the message for and from the church. So expect to be reading much more about colours, identity and style guides in addition to the ideas and observations already being shared here.

Celebration!

This post also marks EBC passing the 500 regular attender mark, which is a major milestone in church attendance and growth (there were 300 of us in 2008). And finally, I realise this is my 100th post on this site…just before our anniversary (I started it on my birthday in 2014), so yay me! Let’s celebrate!