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Easter production
We want to make sure we have a memorable takeaway from later in the service. For example, this past Christmas we used balloons. Everyone got a balloon and everyone held it inflated throughout the service. On stage during that service, the senior pastor popped a red balloon, only to reveal a white one that was inside of it.

Easter Production: Working In Major Service Elements

Each year, at Manchester Christian, we effectively start from scratch. Nothing is assumed to be carried over from the previous year.

One of two things is always true: Christmas is coming, or Easter is coming.

To decide what works and what doesn’t, we must watch and listen.

We are always on the lookout for songs, service elements, or creative ideas that would be impactful during our largest services of the year.

For Christmas and Easter, those services at Manchester Christian Church are typically done off-site at an arena, providing us with some unique opportunities that we do our best to leverage.

That said, we usually begin Easter planning in earnest around February.

Planning is broken out into several different areas, with weekly meetings to measure progress and coordinate strategy.

Our Creative Arts department consists of both our worship and production teams. Worship takes care of the service order, song list and arrangements, while production designs creative elements around what they decide.

For our large arena services, we work with a company, Events United, based in Derry, New Hampshire, to supply and run most of the AVL. As a result, there is a lot of coordinating with them on service order and design concepts.

It’s always fun to go back and forth and see how creative ideas can be brought to life.

As we get closer to an event, I am usually at the Events United shop about once or twice a week, talking through service changes and aspects of design.

To coordinate everything, we use Planning Center Online early and often. We put a lot of work into making sure that each service element contains as much detail as possible. Among the items we include in our plans are who is leading the song, what is the lead instrument, what content will be shown on the side screens, what will be on the center screen, what will be included on the recording, what will be online … these are all examples of things a team needs to know that can change for each element.

The Events United team is also brought into the church’s plan, so that they can get updates as often as the rest of us.

Additionally, there are always two major service elements that get specific attention.

First, the opener for each service is crucial. We want to start with something very big and special. Planning this element can take as much or even more time than the rest of the service combined, and requires the collaboration from all the aforementioned people groups. This is often the single biggest production piece of the entire service.

Second, we want to make sure we have a memorable takeaway from later in the service. It would be that one moment or element that comes to mind when you think back to that service.

We want you to think “Oh yeah, that was the year they did [most memorable moment from that service].”

For example, this past Christmas we used balloons. Everyone got a balloon and everyone held it inflated throughout the service.

On stage during that service, the senior pastor popped a red balloon, only to reveal a white one that was inside of it.

There ended up being plenty to remember from that particular service.

From popping balloons to using cellphone flashlights to illuminate them, this will be “Oh yeah, that was the year they did balloons.”

It’s a visual, it’s something everyone can engage in, and it’s a great story for people to tell others.

Each year, at Manchester Christian, we effectively start from scratch.

Nothing is assumed to be carried over from the previous year, but some things get the green light to be incorporated pretty quick. For example, over the last few years, the PA has been the same, as has the stage, the band positions, along with having a choir.

Those are consistencies, though, not constants. I know at MCC we are looking at changing up at least one elements for Easter.

Ultimately, we’re always evaluating what went well, what design looked good, what creative element worked or failed in the room (or online).

Among the items we looked back to this past Christmas was what our video looked like in previous years and decided that we needed more texture behind the pastor.

Large designs look great in the room but can be difficult to translate into a good camera shot. As our online campus continues to rapidly grow, the quality of our video is only becoming more important. Taking that into account, we took an LED wall we usually use for a lyric banner and made it a design element, low on stage, so it would be caught by the cameras as part of the streaming experience. It really made a great visual impact.

To decide what works and what doesn’t, we must watch and listen.

What are people talking about when they leave your service or in days and weeks after that service?

Did people react to specific elements the way that we expected them to? Did the volunteer teams have everything they needed, to make the event a success?

Everything from planning, to setting up, to the service itself, to tear down and load out is part of the process of getting analyzed at MCC. It’s also rare that if something technical didn’t work, that we would dismiss it entirely. In those situations, the question becomes, “what needs to happen to make this work?” and “Is there enough value to invest into this to make this work?”

It’s really special to be able to have services in an arena. Especially in New England.

As a result, many of our volunteers jump at the chance to serve.

The more challenging areas are load in, load out, and the services we do on-site at our campuses. Those are the big asks we make of our team.

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