Missions Gallery Makeover

Our Church is really big on missions.  I mean, really big.  So naturally, how we present that is very important.  Between our two main entrances into the Worship Center, we have an area that we call the Missions Gallery.  It’s called that because that’s where we showcase our missions work.  Since we built the building we never took the time to really use the space.  The area was characterized by it’s giant orange wall with random pictures all over it, and in front of those, we did sign up tables and various props brought back from missions trips.  While the area worked ok for sign ups, visually it was never very appealing and since the area is such a prominent space in our facility, it was time for a make over.  So we drew up a plan and got to work!

Our first step was putting up chalkboard and the top and base boards for mounting.  This took a couple days to dry and settle in.



The next step was painting.  We wanted to really get away from the bright orange wall.  We also had to use chalkboard paint on the chalkboards to, well, make it a chalkboard.  This also took a couple days of drying.


We then took some cedar boards (the wood used throughout our facility) of different lengths and nailed them to the top and bottom boards like so:


In between the chalkboards, we printed attention grabbing pictures from my recent trips to Vietnam with our missions team.  We printed these images directly on foam core.  This gave us a great shimmer on a slightly flexible material to bend the image behind the pieces of wood.  We then created our chalkboard designs in photoshop and projected them on the chalkboards to trace out with chalk pens.  The result is a very clean, inviting, and eye-catching result that will hopefully pull more people in to find out how they can get involved.



Dancing In the Minefields – Marriage Sermon Series Idea

We are in the middle of a marriage series called “I Do”.  During our creative meeting we decided on a song called “Dancing In the Minefields” by Andrew Peterson.  First of all, the song is fantastically written, and it talks about how marriage isn’t easy, but it’s worth it in the end.  Because the song is a bit more relaxed, this gave us a chance to really pull back after the worship set and do something special.  We pulled the drummer out on a cajon, pulled two electric guitars, lead singer, and acoustic out front in a small semi-circle.  We mostly lit our players from floor lights to give it a much warmer feel.  Our goal was a nice acoustically driven song with powerful lyrics to kick off the first sermon in the series.  Here’s a picture from the special set, and below that I’ll post the song lyrics.  I can’t express enough how perfect this song is for a sermon series on marriage.  We heard nothing but great things from our members.


“well, I was nineteen
you were twenty-one
the year we got engaged
and everyone said we were much too young
but we did it anyway

we got the rings for forty each
from a pawn shop down the road
and we said our vows and took the leap
now fifteen years ago

and we went dancing in the minefields
we went sailing in the storms
and it was harder than we dreamed
but I believe that’s what the promise is for

well “I do” are the two most famous last words
the beginning of the end
but to lose your life for another, I’ve heard
is a good place to begin

’cause the only way to find your life
is to lay your own life down
and I believe it’s an easy price
for the life that we have found

and we’re dancing in the minefields
we’re sailing in the storms
this is harder than we dreamed
but I believe that’s what the promise is for
that’s what the promise is for

so when I lose my way
find me
and when I loose love’s chains
bind me
at the end of all my faith
to the end of all my days
when I forget my name
remind me

’cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
so there’s nothing left to fear
so I’ll walk with you in the Shadowlands
’til the shadows disappear

’cause He promised not to leave us
and His promises are true
so in the face of all this chaos
maybe I can dance with you

so let’s go dancing in the minefields
let’s go sailing in the storms
oh, let’s go dancing in the minefields
and kicking down the doors

oh, let’s go dancing in the minefields
and sailing in the storms
oh, this is harder than we dreamed
but I believe that’s what the promise is for

that’s what the promise is for”

Christmas Stage Design

Christmas is always a big time around the Church.  So each year we do our best to bring something fresh to stage.  This year, our sermon series was “Those First Christmases”.  We toyed around with doing the first thing that comes to mind – mangers, stables, farm animals, wise men, etc.  But we took a more modern approach this year.  We reused some background pieces we made earlier in the year (the wooden slats) and added a Christmas twist with lots of Christmas trees.


We cleaned Lowe’s out of all their Black Friday sale trees.  We got them for dirt cheap – and we were quite proud of the find.


It took us quite a while to fluff the trees.  Since we got the cheap black friday trees, they were mostly all the same height, so we varied the height with black boxes we had lying around back stage.  When first testing the lights, I knew we had a great look coming our way.




All in all, we ended up with a classy Christmas look that was cheap and effective.  A theme you’ll see throughout all of our stage design is reusing pieces here and there where we can.  When we go to build or buy something, we always go in with the question “is it reusable?”  For us, the wooden slats in the background are our reusable piece.  Not to mention that Christmas trees can be reused every year as well – whether on stage or around the Church.

Video Backgrounds

Something we have struggled with for a long time is a good place to shoot video. We did green screen for the longest time and found that it was a ton of work, and the result just wasn’t very natural. So we searched and search around our church campus for some decent video spots. There always seemed to be a problem with ever location we looked at – sunlight, air conditioner noise, street noise, boring background, too busy of a background, and the list goes on. Our preteen ministry just redid their space and the result was video gold. They have a couple walls with different textures – wood textures, brick textures, and solid color walls.

So what makes a good video background? There are a few criteria:
1. The background can’t distract from the subject. The background can’t be too busy, too messy, or have too much movement.
2. Distance from the subject. The background has to have some distance between it and the subject. This rule paired with a good shallow depth of field lens will blur your background so the subject really stands out. You can have a really nice background, but put your subject right against it and completely ruin the focus of the shot. You never want the focus of the shot to be in question. The focus always belongs on the subject, not the background.
3. Style. Backgrounds are important enough to need style. The background helps set the tone of your video. So you need to do your best to see that it meets current trends in style and design.
4. Brightness. The subject of your video needs to be the brightest part of the shoot. Occasionally over exposed backgrounds (think sun flares) are cool, but as far as most videos go, you want people to focus on the subject, by making it the brightest part of the piece you are filming. You don’t want a completely dark background, so you might still put lights on your background, you just don’t want it to be the brightest.

This is not an all encompassing list, but it is a few things we think through before shooting.


Live the Adventure Sermon Series Bump

Our awesome graphic designer, Josh Tate, created an image for our sermon series Live the Adventure. The logo was fantastic, but the rest of the image was a photograph – single layer. So Grant, one of my coworkers did a fantastic job of slicing and dicing the image to make the image come alive with movement. We took that movement and threw it on top of a crumbling mountain side to create a short sermon series bumper that would get people focused in about what were going to talk about that Sunday.