At Grace Point Church in San Antonio, Easter will be a hinge for us. The culmination of a movement and the launch of another. Hang with the story to see where we are going. I think it will be cool.
October of last year (or so), Grace Point Pastor Jeff Harris laid down the gauntlet. 2017 will be about neighboring. How do we move our people to put their faith into action by neighboring well ?
Designing a Neighbor series
The Worship and Creative Arts team got together with all four teachers on staff and the communications department and we all pitched out ideas on a neighbor series. These are our collaborative meetings with anyone who creates parts of the series to show up with ideas. Songs, series titles, illustrations, art work, sermon overviews, etc.
It's a very cool thing to have all this stuff about five weeks out from the series start date. We landed on "Hey, Neighbor" as a series title and some art work. Smash cut to 11 days before the series launches and many of us were just not feeling it.
Start over and design the movement
Pastor wasn't feeling it, I wasn't feeling it, and a few others were not feeling it. Shoot. All this work and we weren't excited about it. Not a great feeling. We all kind of wanted something different. This Neighbor concept really got into staffers' minds, we caught the vision and saw the potential. But what do we do now?
Stuff has been designed, sermons written, services planned, departments aligned. The train was moving. I guess sometimes you gotta grab that magic train cable in movies that stops the whole thing in motion, get out, build some new track and get the train going in a new direction. That's just what we did.
P.S. It's expensive and no one was excited to do extra work.
We interrupted our regularly scheduled staff meeting to figure out how to make this different. We didn't need a series. We needed a movement. We needed something visible and simple. We found this hat on Instagram.
Love Your Neighbor! That was it!
Holy cow, the room lit up. We had something to sink our teeth into. The collective brain fired on all cylinders. This is our movement. Immediately art work, social media ideas, shirts, hats, stickers, stage design, illustrations leapt out of the group.
It was beautiful. We were excited.
The simple phrase that we could work to make visible. #LoveYourNeighbor. Piece of cake.
Love Your Neighbor is simple, cool, relevant, and very much needed in our politically charged and divided culture right now.
Ideas are fun until someone has to pay for them. That's the next part.
Launch the Series
Only 11 days. We can do this. We had this idea for a mural in the lobby of campus #1.
Something we could leave up for the rest of the year. Bold, simple, visible.
We wanted something different for our stage design too.
We hired Micah Bell who did a bunch of work for Destiny Church here in San Antonio. We liked his stuff.
We designed and then decided to order a banners in grayscale. The banner is 9 ½ ft. by 30 ft. It's huge.
We are engaging our people on social media to introduce us to their neighborhood. We have a few criteria. It has to be related to the idea of neighboring, cannot creep out people's neighbors and it can't be egregiously self-promotional. We landed on having our people shoot a video introducing us to their neighbor.
The video thing is just an easy fun way to get people moving in a direction. We want people thinking about who their neighbors are, learning their names, praying for them, making eye contact in public, sharing meals, and getting the Gospel out there.
We are also encouraging our people to make a calendar reminder in their phones to remind them to pray for their neighbor at 10:25 a.m., every day, for a year. Even if people didn't pray, but were reminded daily of their neighbors, we would consider that a win.
Imagine if only 1,000 of our people spent only one minute in prayer for their neighbors. That would be 6,000 hours of prayer in a year's time on behalf of the people of San Antonio.
So yes, we are going to do more lights, more production, more music, etc., for Easter. It's a day to celebrate the risen Christ. This also brings the series to a close, but we want the movement to carry on.
We will use Easter as a way to slingshot the Apollo 13 capsule around the moon and bring this thing home. Our Children's pastor, April Rhines, has latched onto a cool concept we learned from Oak Hills Church down the road.
Back Yard Bible Clubs
During this season, instead of doing VBS, we are doing Recess: Back Yard Bible Clubs. We will ramp up our people to invite children from their neighborhoods to come over and play and learn and do Bible lessons. We will teach our people how to go door to door and invite and also, how to host one of these. We will keep it visible by sharing the stories in services and social media.
Fall Series:Love Your Neighbor @work
We want this momentum to carry us into the fall as we weekly share stories. When August rolls around we want the movement to expand to where people work. Work is where we spend a third of our lives. How can we help people use their professional lives to love their neighbors at the office or shop?
The Series Comes to A Conclusion
After that, we are back into Christmas and 2017 is come and gone.
Changing a series and constructing a movement in 11 days has been tough.
I don't consider the stuff before that a waste, because I don't believe we could have gotten here without going through those steps. However, we couldn't run our staff through this ringer more than once a year, without serious repercussions.
I don't want my staff to neglect their families because they are up at the church doing work. It's not worth it. For example, my personal family life is nuts right now. We have six kids already and we just picked up a new one, because we are fostering an 11-day-old premature baby for a family member. That's why a lot of our graphics aren't perfect and maybe don't match the mural or shirts or hats or other departments. As artists, we could tweak and perfect the pieces to death.
Sometimes you have to do a B-plus and go home to your family- where we all should be shooting for an A-plus.