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…

Be Our Guest!

We had a great session last week with Nick Cuthbert, the founder of Riverside Church in Birmingham, who came to talk to us about being welcoming as a church.

I don’t know if this is something you pay attention to at your church…we do, but in the business of everything else which happens on a Sunday (music, media, sound, lights, coffee, cake, the talk…note this isn’t a list of order of importance…if it was then coffee would of course be first….), it can get forgotten, or maybe not fully thought through…

Be Our Guest

Nick was great, having led the church for over 30 years and now working with Lead Academy he had a wealth of experience, knowledge and anecdotes to share with us. So I thought I would share some of it with you:

  1. Watch your language: It is said it takes 6 – 12 months for people to become fully indoctrinated into a church…and by then they are used to the language, or Christianese as we like to call it. But if you’re coming to church for the first time and they are talking about being washed in the blood of the lamb at the front, or sharing in the peace together, or practicing the Lord’s supper this morning…what would you make of it? Similarly, how would you react if the service leader stood up at the beginning of the service and said “we’re going to worship now…”? Worship what? And how? Does it involve fire? Dancing? Is there a chant which goes with it? So think about your language…we are going to sing some songs together that express how we feel about our faith. We’re going to stop for a bit to greet each other. Today is communion, where we share bread and wine (non-alcoholic) to remember Jesus. Small changes, but language which is understood. And similarly…
  2. Be inclusive: When it comes to the announcements, or the service order, or publicity, are you thinking about 1st timers? If Geoff is having a mens barbecue at his house on Friday, or Jane is collecting money for Tearfund in advance of her trip to Uganda…it’s all great…but who’s Geoff? What does Jane look like? Thursday Fellowship is meeting this week on…well, Thursday. But what is Thursday Fellowship? Who is it for? Where? When? Why? And when you do these announcements, is it something which the whole church needs to know on a Sunday? If Thursday Fellowship is targeted at our older people, announcing it in the morning service is probably irrelevant to 75% of the attendees.
  3. Coffee time can be a lonely time: We often start and finish our services with refreshments, and its an opportunity to catch up with friends, recover from the previous service and be social. But it can be part of the problem…as we naturally congregate with our friends who we may not have seen all week, any newcomers can be left, in a corner, by the door with their coffee cup for company. Try to keep an eye out for newcomers, and then be social with them! Something Riverside did was have gift bags for 1st timers…a freebie with info and something nice is always well received, but of course, when it comes to coffee time it is clear to the rest of the congregation anyone holding a gift bag is new (or going to a party after the service…?)
  4. Smile! We put so much effort into Sundays, from the creative content, to the music, the talk, refreshments (thinking about coffee again…), graphics, cleanliness, tech… But so often it can seem what people are singing, or listening too, may be well received and understood by their heads and hearts…but their faces aren’t necessarily reflecting it. We don’t go to church to have a bad time. We don’t worship a grumpy, miserable God. Our songs and services are mostly joyful, colourful celebrations…isn’t that what “worship” is about? So what would a 1st timer make of a church full of grumpy looking, sighing people? I wouldn’t come back. A smile is something which can be contagious. And finally:
  5. 1st timers: We’ve always made the point of welcoming our visitors at the beginning of the service, but as Nick pointed out…if you call someone a visitor, does it mean you’re not expecting them to stay? Or come back? So rephrasing as 1st Timers (as you may have noticed I’ve done throughout this post) is another subtle, but inclusive change.

So a short (?!) summary, there was lots more and making sure you are welcoming every week is something which always needs to be addressed. And by everybody…we have a Welcoming Team whose duty is to be welcoming…but really, it’s the job of everybody who is there. Every week. Every day!

All The Time!

So approach every Sunday, every element, every word from the viewpoint of having a room full of 1st timers, and make sure you are addressing all of the above and more.

Getting it all to line up

Only the one meeting today, which was short, to the point, and left us all in furious agreement…which of course is good. But it got me thinking…which is either dangerous, or what I’m paid to do… This infographic (which I know isn’t new) sums it up perfectly…this week I’ve definitely been working on box 6…

I-Think-I-Do-Worship-Leaders2Inevitably a lot of my time is spent on admin, whether its of the “fun” kind (choosing new songs, transcribing songs, putting service orders and creative ideas together and restringing my guitars) or the “more of a chore” kind (rotas…) And this morning’s meeting was an extension of the “more of a chore” element. Not that the meeting was a chore of course, but it was about….rotas. As is next week’s meeting…its all rock ‘n roll at EBC this summer…

How we got here…

But seriously…a bit of background: I’ve been sorting out the rotas for the morning bands for about 4 years now, we have a pool of musicians we can call on and a smaller group of worship leaders, so every term I construct a rota to make sure we have a consistent band lineup every week consisting of drums, bass, keys and/or guitar and some singers. Sometimes we get a solo instrument, some weeks we don’t have a drummer, but as a general rule and lineup we have a five piece band who can deliver the songs on our list. So the morning service has been going really well (musically) because of it.

We also run afternoon/evening services at EBC which I’m not a part of, although I do support and play with from time to time. These are run as a “Songs Of Praise” style service and attract good numbers from the older generation. They use a more traditional repertoire (although there is some cross over of songs), and have a smaller team who generally cover each week. So (you can probably see where this is going…), this morning’s meeting was to discuss combining our rotas for morning and afternoon…as we’re generally using some of the same musicians, similar repertoire, and have a growing band who we can call on.

And where we’re going…

And then next week’s meeting is to look at how we schedule our speakers, service leaders and worship leaders, as we have a growing team who are able to do this, but aren’t being very strategic about how we do it…defaulting to a small group week to week rather than developing the newer and potential leaders which we have.

And the thing is, although it’s not particularly interesting, it’s definitely not exciting, it is inspiring seeing the potential we can release as we get it all to line up. You see, as in many churches of a certain size, there is the inevitable doubling or trebling of roles. So some of singers also serve on refreshments, some of our musicians also preach, a few of us lead the service from time to time too. But I do the band rota, the preaching team collate the preaching rota and refreshments, sound and service leading is put together by the church manager. And although we are all good friends and really (really!) do get on well, we don’t talk to each other about it. So there can be some weeks that our bass player is also serving coffee, or one of our keys players is also preaching or some of our leaders only lead once a year…not the best planning…

A change will do you good.

But it’s all going to change from September onwards. Not rocket science. Not particularly interesting. But definitely impactful, growth focused and a very, very easy win.

If you stepped back from your Sunday morning rota, could you spot the potential for an easy win?

Who are you?

30th June, hard to believe we’re halfway through the year already! I’ve mentioned here before I’m currently working on a new project with EBC on updating our website and overall branding. And the question which came up first was, who are you?

Now I’ve been researching logo design, style guides, branding and fonts…all of which has come in useful with my other launch this year. But the prospect of overseeing something so big for a whole church has been quite daunting…so I was delighted to discover that ChurchInsight, the people we use to maintain and host our website not only offer a bespoke branding and logo design package, they are also able to take the final result and transfer it across to our website, reskinning all of the existing data leaving us with a brand spanking new homepage in line with our new branding!

As part of this process I had a long conversation with ChurchInsight so they could get an understanding for who we are. After all, it would be unusual to get someone to choose the clothes we wear or the music we listen to without knowing a bit about us before. It would be like receiving a gift from someone who doesn’t know us at all…you’d either get something which wasn’t you, or a gift card. Its just the same with commissioning a logo…we could say “we want a logo” and whoever we commissioned could say ‘here you are…”, but ultimately it would be a pointless without a bit of background.

Questions to give direction

So I thought I’d share some of the questions we went through so they could get some direction…as the questions which direct the logo design are also questions which provide, or focus the direction of a church. So, without further ado, here is a short list:

  • How would you describe your church services?
  • What are the long term goals of your church?
  • Why do you want a new logo? What do you want your new logo to accomplish?
  • How are you different from other churches?
  • What’s the age range of your target congregation base?
  • What feeling or message do you want your logo to convey to those who view it?

As we were going through the questions, I was quite pleased we as a church had such a clear vision and strategy that it was relatively simple to answer most of the questions…in fact the only ones I stumbled on were when it came to favourite colours and the like… So how about you? If you were thinking about undertaking a rebranding project for your church, or if I bumped into you at a conference and we got chatting about your church, would you have clarity enough to be able to answer the above questions and more?

Who Are You?

If not, then maybe you could take these questions and start to have a conversation about where your church is going, and who it’s trying to take along the way? Of course we all want to be known as churches with doors which are wide open and inclusive, but at the same time we are all going to be known for specific things, or to target specific age groups or demographics. Hillsong is known for its music, HTB for Alpha, Passion Atlanta for…well more music, NorthPoint for its teaching…and on and on. Thats not to say they don’t do children ministry or bible classes or mission…but their identity and their USP are wrapped up in certain well known areas.

We Know Who We Are

We are exploring at EBC what it means to be a 24/7 church, and so although we put a lot into our Sundays, we also run Messy Church during the week, youth events, toddlers and children’s work, and a flourishing older persons ministry which has several meetings across the week. This gives us as a church a fairly broad appeal demographically, but it does mean we can narrow the age focus on a Sunday morning as we know the other age groups are so well catered for during the week at other events.

So like The Who song at the beginning of this post; who are you? Do you know your church’s identity, it’s USP, it’s primary outreach? Or do you need some time as a team to go through some questions to help sharpen your focus? Either way, make sure you know.

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:

Community wasn’t built in a day

There are countless books, videos, courses and step by step guides out there on community. It’s one of the things which most churches aspire to, and arguably one of the ingredients of a happy and rounded life.Tents

But it seems in our busy, 21st century culture, community is becoming more and more relegated to being online when we can fit it in and contain it. For instance, I have 422 friends on Facebook, of which probably 22 I see regularly. I am connected on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest (yes, I am a man with a Pinterest account). I probably still have a MySpace profile somewhere, I’ve dabbled in FourSquare and I set up a TuneTeams account recently. And that doesn’t include old school emails and texts. So I am incredibly overconnected in my digital realm.

But the reality is, most evenings (when I don’t have rehearsals, meetings or are carrying out “dad taxi” duties, I am at home…with my family, enjoying catching up on the events of the day and unwinding from a days work. Which is not a bad thing. But it’s not community.

Face Time?

I was in London today for a meeting about a couple of upcoming audits which I am doing. Now I could have emailed it in, we could have exchanged data, maybe even Skyped if it came to it. It would have saved me the commute, and the train fare. But putting in the “face time” as we call it develops my relationship further with the client, it shows I want to make the effort, and we talk far more about work and not about work than we would have done in a brief email or a focused phone conversation. It takes time and effort, but it builds community.

This coming weekend we are having our church weekend, something we try to do every year. This year we have taken the step to share it with another church in our area, FBC. We’re camping at Wellington Country Park, we’ve hired in huge marquees, generators, toilets and showers for the 200 or more who will be sharing the weekend. It’s almost a mini festival! We are running events on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we have a visiting speaker, children’s and youth work. There are leisure activities being planned, movies, a very silly quiz night and much much more (did I mention the buffet, hog roast and barbecue?). We’ve been planning it for probably the best part of a year, it’s taken a huge amount of planning and logistics, and I will be on site from Thursday to Monday, when the inevitable big clear up has to happen. And I don’t even want to thing about Tuesday evening yet (when I’m going to have to reinstall our sound and lights ready for next Sunday).

Is it worth the effort?

It’s taken a massive amount of effort to put on; time, money and heavy lifting! But we will have a whole weekend together without the distractions of work, TV, cooking and general day to day. We can do what we do on a Sunday without the need to rush onto the next service, or to get home to put on lunch. There is a program so there are things to occupy us through the days, but there will also be plenty of time to be together, to share, to chat, to eat, to just be. And although I know it’s going to be a great weekend with fantastic content, the opportunity to spend time with friends, make new ones, and just grow our community together is going to be the most important part of the whole weekend.

The only way to build community is to be one. The only way to cultivate relationships is to invest in them. Which takes time, lots of time, spent together. So instead of reading the books, working through the programs or “liking” your friend’s status, why don’t you spend some time, quality time with your community this weekend.

I’ll be posting about this next week, as I’m probably going to be off grid, in a field, with deer for the next 5 days!

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.

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!

Correct Collaboration

We’re in Easter week, we’ve been planning service orders, music, media and some drama so our services can be as good as they can be. As you know, we have a template we follow for all of our services, and we are in a pattern of getting at least three weeks ahead of Sunday so we can have plenty of planning time.collaborate-and-listen

So our senior minister, Chris*, has been creating and collating the service orders ready for creative input, worship songs and anything else which will be supporting the talk. He had some ideas, based on some SkitGuys dramas, as to how the service should be structured and also the general theme for the whole event. So he entered some of these elements into a draft order (for both Good Friday and Easter Sunday, which he then copied to me, Steph our assistant minister, Amy our youth worker, and some of the other staff, as we were all going to have some involvement in the services. There were a couple of lines in the email:

“these are still very draft, so feel free to input/comment etc.

The vision that I have for them might need some explaining!”

The problem was, sending an email like this to several different people meant there were several different responses: too wordy, too grown up, not accessible, not all age enough, how about this video, no that’s a bit too kiddish, how can we aim for the middle…etc etc. Chris never usually sends an email like this out, to so many people…(and probably never will again….!)

No such thing as “Correct Collaboration”?

Now I know this post is titled “correct collaboration”, which is probably a slightly misconstrued title as we all know there’s not a “correct” way to be collaborative. That said, I’d like to proffer a few pointers to help with collaboration off of the back of this experience:

  1. If you want to collaborate, make it clear what it is you’re trying to achieve. When Chris and I met a week later, face to face, we were able to much better discuss the vision for the services, and subsequently were able to understand it and refine the concept.
  2. Don’t try and collaborate with a large group of people. If I ask two people a question, I’ll get two answers, if I ask several, I’ll get several. Everyone has an opinion, we all have preferences and subjectivity…when we were discussing the songs there was a little push and pull as to how traditional, contemporary, all age etc we needed to think (as our Good Friday service was all age and all together). So collaborating with a small group (small group) is achievable, but once there are several people in the room you are likely to run into problems.
  3. Watch how you phrase the questions/collaboration. The phrase “feel free to input/comment” left it all very open for people to do just that. Maybe if the question had been “do you understand the concept” or “what do you think of the video” or “will this work with the youth/children” would have given a more straightforward and workable response.

As an example (without wanting to appear completely smug….), this week I’m starting to collate new songs for our Summer song list, so I mailed a small group of people I know, saying:

“I’m starting to collate songs for the summer list, if there are any songs you’ve heard that would be a good fit with our congregation, send me some suggestions before 15th April.”

So (1) it’s clear what I’m trying to achieve, (2) I contacted a small group of people, and (3) the question was direct.

Now as I said above, there’s not a correct way to collaborate, but from experience, using some or all of the pointers above will help with the whole process.

What do you think? (don’t tell me all at once….)

*No senior ministers were harmed in the making of this post. And Chris is the best Senior Minister I have….

Easter Ideas

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your notice that Easter is just around the corner. Well I say that, but I’ve only just noticed I hadn’t organised a band for our Good Friday service…doh! Anyhow, I thought this would be great opportunity to share some of the songs and medias which we have used over the past few years… So, without further ado:

Thief by Third Day: I’ve always found this an incredibly powerful song, telling the story of Jesus’ crucifixion from the perspective of the thief beside Him. In fact I’m working on a script which could be used as part of an Easter service inspired by just that.

Forever featuring Kari Jobe. I love this song, although we haven’t yet tried it congregationally (I’m not entirely sure it will work as a congregational song…please correct me if you have done it), it is still incredibly powerful and uplifting. Easter Sunday for sure. And more clips from The Passion of the Christ…

We use a lot of SkitGuys videos and scripts for our services (when we’re not writing our own material) because they are well produced, bang on message and generally just really, really good. This drama/video is called The Birdcage, and is worth a watch.

Nichole Nordeman and Crimson. She is the most amazingly poetical artist, I highly recommend all of her albums (there are only 4 to date, and nothing since 2005). We put this song to a very simple video just showing crimson drops into a pool radiating circles…an amazing song.

And lets finish on this: When Love Sees You, sung by Mac Powell (of Third Day) from The Story project, the corresponding album which was written by Nichole Nordeman (and every track on there is amazing)…this song (and this video) always just stop me in my tracks. Hope that’s given you some useful inspiration and ideas for Easter.