I’ve been running this blog for almost six months now, and have posted up a combination of songs, videos and clips, along with ideas and experience from my role at EBC. And I have been doing the role at EBC for more than 12 years, personally growing and developing over time. One of the things I always do when we plan a new series of services is to just start sourcing ideas from as many different places and artistic elements as possible.
We plan our preaching rota usually a year in advance, so currently we have a plan for 2015 mapped out at a very high level, purely dates of series and their titles. Then, we create outlines for each series that detail the overarching theme, and then further detail for each part of the series. This is done to a standard template to make it easy to complete, and there are sections to fill out like “What do we want everyone to know” and “How do we want people to feel”, as well as an outline of the talk and space to fill in creative ideas.
Where to start?
These creative ideas may be worship songs from our list to help give a pointer to our worship leaders. We also have space for performance songs, drama, interactions , graphics and stage design.Media can encompass everything from film and TV clips, recorded dramas, bespoke media for the service and music videos. Of course we don’t use everything every week, but there is always some sort of creative element inserted into the service, either to directly support the talk or to engage the congregation from the beginning. Or even both!
So when I get the outlines (and usually I talk through them with Chris our Senior Minister), I start to just collate ideas that come from the overview as described above. So I trawl through my music collection; sometimes I know exactly what I’m looking for, other times just typing related words into the search field can help too. I am a music addict (as my wife will attest to), so I have a pretty extensive library on my iTunes…around 45,000 tracks and always growing. But of course Spotify now has just about everything you could ever wish for.
I also watch a lot of movies, or at least, I did when the kids were younger and went to bed earlier…but again, sometimes I know exactly what I’m looking for, other times Googling or browsing YouTube for relevant clips is a real boon.
There’s an idea or two brewing here….
Probably because I have been doing this for so long, I rarely am able to watch or listen to anything without considering a Sunday service application for it…it’s always in the back of mind…”could we use this”, “this would be great for an all age service”, “if only he hadn’t sworn in that sentence it would be perfect for telling the story of Job” etc… So I try to keep notes of all of these ideas and more…and Evernote is my note taking software of choice
Seasonally there are always key things happening, so that also gets taken into account. And then popular culture also counts for a lot…but popular culture as is reflected in our church culture… So recently The Great British Bake Off has been on, Strictly Come Dancing has just started, The Apprentice, The X Factor…all formats that are familiar and can be referred to or even copied. These may then feed into the way we present something, or directly influence an element in our service…last Sunday we showed a series of slides of “Bake Off Fails”, and I’ve done a lukewarm cooking slot before as a pastiche of MasterChef to illustrate another story.
And from time to time we also use drama, something we try to do moderately often because of the amount of work it takes to do well, but also to maximise the impact.
The melting pot.
All of this goes into a melting pot of ideas and resources that are entered into the outline template, almost a scatter-gun approach. But that then gives me, the service leader and preacher a great starting point to filter out and hone the ideas into something that is useful, relevant and accessible. And how we edit and refine the ideas is something that I’ll look at next week.