I had an interesting question from someone last week about the creative process at actionchurch. The question was: “How do you come up with creative ideas for sermon series each month? What is your creative process? I think my answer surprised the person that asked…so I thought I’d pass it on to all of you as well. My answer is: At actionchurch, we don’t care nearly as much about being creative as we do being “Fresh”. Yes, every week you see some really stunning artwork from Josiah and others that creatively illustrates each weeks message on the screens. However, at our core, we are not exactly the most creative church on the planet when it comes to what we teach. We just finished a study of God’s power based mostly on the book of Genesis. Next week we’ll start a study of the Book of James called “the antidote”. The following month is Easter…so…you guessed it…we’re going to talk about the resurrection of Jesus. We do it every year. And every year at Christmas we talk about the birth of Jesus. And the other ten months of the year we mostly talk about Jesus as well. We’re not exactly breaking any new ground here in creativity…but we do serve up “fresh” sermons each week.
If that sounds a bit contradictory, let me explain it with donuts. Each Sunday morning, we go to the Maple Donuts on East Market (the one where the donuts are actually made) and pick up an amazing assortment of donutty goodness. Every week people comment on how great “our” donuts are…but the truth is…we didn’t even make them…we just did the work of picking them up at the source. Our donuts are fresh…fresh from the source…EVERY week. That might not sound like a big deal, but it is. Last year, as part of our move to the theater, our donuts were supplied to us on Sunday morning by the catering staff. It was so much easier. It saved time on sunday morning. The donuts were beautifully arranged for us on platters at our hospitality table. They were NOT fresh from the source however…and before long EVERYONE knew. It was amazing, in a brand new state of the art facility that was better than anything we could have previously imagined…in a place with leather rocker recliner seats…EVERY WEEK people complained about the donuts. They simply weren’t fresh from the source…and EVERYONE noticed.
That brings me back to the “creative process” that leads up to Sunday morning. It’s simple. Each week we go to the source (God…through the Bible) and find fresh things that we need to know and act on as a church. We don’t actually “create” anything new at all. We just do the work of “picking it up at the source” EVERY week. We pray about it. Josiah and I occasionally “fight” about it. (He’s usually right :-) ) Although it’s tempting (and would be much easier) we never “re-heat” a series from someone else’s book or sermon series. Josiah never uses someone else’s graphic packages or branding art. We value “freshness” over “slick” every time. That is NOT in any way to criticize the great books and sermon series created by others. They are amazing…creative…powerful…they just wouldn’t be “fresh” if we re-heated them and served them up on Sunday morning.
Thanks to this little tuesday morning “rant” I am now hungry for maple donuts…and desperately need to get back to the work of coming up with some “fresh” content for initial week of “The Antidote”. Good question, though.
Do you have a question about how things work at actionchurch…that I can answer with donut analogies? Let me know in the comments.