Know Your Capabilities – 12 Days of Christmas (Posts)

As a production director, it is my job to make sure the dreams of the creative team come true. If they want a car on stage, I make sure we can do it. When they ask for snow, my team makes it snow. That’s what we do. However, it is crucial that we – the production staff – are part of those first creative meetings to help steer the conversation into the realms of reality. (See Yesterday’s post about Planning Teams.) I am all for “blue sky” dreaming, but at some point you have to land the plane.
Christmas services are a time to pull out all the stops. But you have to know what your realistic capabilities are. Here are three things I do in preparation leading up to each Christmas season.

Communicate:
A few years ago, I was part of a production where the music minister had scheduled the band, singers, drama, and a choir before knowing what the system capabilities were for that year*. By the time I found out, rentals were hard to come by and a stressful production ensued. Simple communication with all members of the team can help avoid problems.

The following year, I was prepared.
I worked ahead of time (before songs were picked and a band was selected) to secure extra equipment.

Know What You Have:
Every year I make an “inventory” spreadsheet containing the following information:
– # of available wireless microphones along with their frequencies
–  # of wired vocal mics
– # of instruments mics and what instruments each mic can accommodate
While these categories are important and it’s essential to know what equipment you’re working with, that last one is crucial; it allows the worship leader to know how many special instruments he can schedule.

Rent Early:
Christmas is that wonderful time of year when us production guys get to max out every piece of equipment the church owns. We use all the lights, all the audio channels, and A LOT OF ELECTRICTY; but lets face it, pushing the limits of our equipment can cause major problems. I have found that working with a local production rental company early enough in the year can greatly reduce stress not only on your system and your team, but also on your wallet.Clark Grisswald Even if in July the only specifics we have are that we are in fact having Christmas services, I still give the rental place a call. There are always going to be certain givens: I’m going to be lighting up at least 100 trees with lights, we will need more audio channels, and some unknown “special opener” will require additional lighting.

If you call and rent these “given” pieces of equipment WAY in advance, you can usually get a great price. Plus, you know you aren’t going to run into the issue of not being able to get what you need because everyone else has gotten first dibs.

Moral of this post: PLAN EARLY.

What do you usually rent for Christmas Productions? Join in the conversation below.

Planning Team – 12 Days of Christmas (Posts)

Christmas is a big deal, especially in the church. It’s when congregations see the largest increase in attendance, and it is the best time of the year for us church programmers to make a big difference.

Critiquing_Meeting
Northview Planning Team

We are joyously proclaiming the birth of Christ: God making good on his promise of a savior. That kind of event requires the biggest party of the year! We also welcome many non-regular churchgoers that feel coming to church during the holiday season fulfills their Christian duty for the year.

Because churches are catering to two very different groups during Christmas, you have to plan for these services with a little more finesse than you would an average Sunday. No matter your approach to Christmas, it is imperative to tell the gospel story in such a way that it remains fresh and engaging to your most knowledgeable attendee, but is also easily understood by the guest who has no idea that God came to Earth in the form of a baby. There are many video clips you can use or drama pieces that can do just this. (Check out the Christmas Series Resource page for ideas.)

It may even be as simple as just reading the Christmas story:

 

As I mentioned before, reaching such a variety of Christians and non-Christians alike requires planning and skill. It is critical to form a committee or group and to plan out your holiday services as early as possible. (July is not too early).

 

Here are some general tips that can help you get started:

Who should be on your planning team? 

That is entirely up to you; there is no right or wrong answer. I have been involved with teams that were large and encompassed most every staff member, as well as small two-person teams where we nailed down a plan and presented it to the senior pastor. At Northview, our team is led by the creative arts pastor (Creative Worship Ideas) and involves a rotating group of staff and volunteers.

In short: whether your team is made up of 2 or 15, the key is choosing people who want to be there and who come prepared!

How long should you meet?
Set a time limit. That way there is pressure to perform as well as well as light at the end of the tunnel. I suggest setting up a series of two-hour meetings. Spend the first-hour brainstorming a new service idea, and the second hour working on the implementation of the service that was brainstormed the previous week. Never leave an implementation meeting without action items for the team.  Try forming subgroups at the brainstorming meeting to run with the main elements of the service, and present them back at the implementation meeting a week later. Doing this saves on time as a whole, and gets deeper involvement from the entire team.

Feel free to leave a comment with any planning team questions you have, and make sure to check back each day through November 12th for more ways to keep your Christmas planning on track!