Yesterday was a phenomenal day at our church. Regardless of which campus you attended (Powhatan, Westchester or Online), we had a great day together as One church! The fundamental reason it was such a great day had nothing to do with us, truthfully. We simply unpacked what God has done and is still doing for us. Still, it was so great to experience the truth of John 3:16 in such a fresh and creative way. Plus, the music that got us to that moment and helped us express ourselves afterward was incredible.
Days like yesterday make me think about our church and what we do, and I thought I'd flesh a few of those out here.
1) It's always a team effort. There were honestly multiple voices, all equally contributing, to yesterday's service. God is the One who ultimately speaks, but he does it usually through more than one person during the creation process. Someone found the video, someone worked the narration, someone edited, someone engineered the technology, someone selected the music around it, etc. It's almost never one person from start to finish. It's always about the team. And I'd rather do church like a team any day than do it with lone rangers and single stars.
2) It's almost never an original idea. Occasionally, we 'invent' something from scratch that we've never seen or heard of before. But most of the time, we're stealing it. That may be too strong. We're borrowing and modifying it. Better? The Bible says "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecc 1:9, NIV). ANYONE can take someone else's work and improve on it, make it better. That's what we often do. That's what we did yesterday. People do that with our stuff, too. It makes us all better.
3) It always takes far more time than the average person knows. If you were at PCC a few weeks ago, we did this video of David Brawley trying to take down Matt Warren (little guy vs. big guy - strength vs. weakness). We worked and worked and worked the shooting to get it right. At one point, while we were waiting on one of the shots to get set up, Matt said to me, "I had no idea you guys put this much into it." Matt's not alone - nobody really gets this. We're passionate about giving God our absolute best. Why would we give everyone else our best and give God some small or puny effort? We want what we do to be all we've got, all the time, week in and week out. This requires literally scores of collective hours (probably way over 100) every week.
4) Without God, it's just a show. With God, it produces lasting life change. Jesus said it like this: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5, NIV). We pray that God would show us what to do; what topics to cover and when; what Scriptures to use and how; what elements to choose and how to edit them. We pray when we start the creative process, when we choose themes, during the creation, writing, rehearsals, filming, and just before every service begins. We honestly believe that God uses what we do to make a difference in people's lives, and we have a lot of evidence to back up our claim.
5) It's almost always a lot of fun! Sure, it's hard work, takes a lot of time, often involves passionate debate and sometimes you get stuck. But most of the time, we're working alongside of a group of people who are full of energy, highly creative, love God and love each other. And you know what you're doing matters. It just doesn't get much better than that. Sometimes I talk to a pastor or church leader who is not having fun. We all go through this for short seasons here and there. But when it's pervasive and unending, you've got to change something, blow something up, stir the pot, start over...SOMETHING! This should be hard, but it should also be FUN!
Now, go create! Sunday will be here in 6 days!