I thought it would be fun to ask the creative monsters from @ElevationChurch & @PassionCity a few questions so the rest of us could learn from what these 2 powerhouse churches are doing. We are all in this together and we are thrilled to #get2 show people the love of God so why not learn from 2 of the best in the game? I believe we are all wondering how we can improve and execute at a higher and more practical level. So I wanted to welcome my friends Leighton Ching and Larry Hubatka to answer some questions!
Passion City Church
How involved is your pastor in programming?
Leighton Ching: Very involved. Louie casts vision for the series and the team execute from there.
Larry Hubatka: There was a season, earlier in the church, where Pastor Steven signed-off on everything. He no longer does that, but that came with time. Most series ideas originate with him based on what God is doing in his own life or is speaking to him about the church. Generally, he trust the team to create, and he gives us the freedom to build what works as a creative team.
How frequently do you feel you should have creative elements in your services?
LC: Not that often.
LH: We typically shy away from any format that tries to standardize programming and simply qualify everything by saying, “We want a great worship experience.” If that means videos and big, elaborate openers every week, we’ll do that. If it means preaching and worship some weeks and we strip everything else away, then we’ll do that. No standards for frequency of creative elements, for the most part.
Who creates worship sets?
LC: Our Worship Leader, and sends through our Pastor for any thoughts or changes.
LH: Worship Pastor. Occasionally Pastor Seven will make a change based on flow or theme for the week if he feels a specific song would help set up the theme.
What did you do when you were getting started?
LC: Cried a lot. Kidding, I oversaw the design for SixStepsRecords and church was added to that once we planted Passion City Church.
LH: We leaned heavy on activity and weren’t always very smart or efficient. Early on, we were what you’d expect, really raw. Not much process in place. But one thing we did early on was learn to hit deadlines. Usually at the expense of sleep and doing it the hard way, but we tried to prioritize deadlines.
What was the first hire you made?
LC: Another designer from our House.
LH: Graphic designer
How do you plan series?
LC: Our pastor plans the series.
LH: See the series planning document in the Dropbox link. Short version — series brief with Pastor Steven, pitch meetings for suggested programming, programming and production.
How far in advance are you planning?
LC: A few weeks out, sometimes a month out.
LH: We used to start programming 3-3.5 months out. It’s settled in these days at about 2 months out. I’d actually prefer to be a little further out, but based on the rhythm of our church 2 months is more realistic.
How is the department structured?
LC: We have a production manager that handles the production, lighting, auditorium environment on Sundays. I oversee the series design for our main gathering as well as our students, kids, college groups, etc.
LH: Creative Pastor up top with 4 reports, Digital Director, Creative Director, Communications Director, Lead Project Manager (oversees client relationships).
Who comes up with ideas?
LC: Our Pastor casts vision, and anyone and everyone can help contribute ideas as to how to support it.
LH: Everyone on staff has the option to contribute. Most ideas originate within the Creative Department, Programming Team or Pastor Steven. However, email@example.com is open to the entire staff if anyone has an idea to share. No one is as smart as everyone.
Who signs off?
LC: Our leadership, Louie and Shelley signs off.
LH: Worship Pastor ultimately signs off on anything that makes it to the weekend. Creative Pastor signs off on all assets that comes out of Creative, but Worship Pastor has ultimate authority.
How do you settle differences of opinion?
LC: Easy, our pastor’s have the final say.
LH: It’s always case-by-case, but having a clear brief with a single problem that we’re trying to solve makes the biggest difference. It’s the best way to make the decision making process objective.
How do you involve volunteers?
LC: Our Door Holders are helping run cameras, lighting, sound, worship teams, touch teams. They are an integral part of the fabric of our church.
LH: Utilizing volunteers is Creative is relatively new to us. We involved volunteers everywhere we can, but we also realize the majority of the responsibility we have volunteers helping with is proportional to their availability. Our goal is to develop volunteers over time through biweekly Creative Lab events. 2-4 hours Wednesday night volunteer events are where we bring volunteers into the office to tackle projects in a specific block of time.
Central vs Local: How does it work?
LH: We manage creative centrally with a central project request system. Requests are submitted 3 weeks in advance. We generally try to say “yes,” but there are always limitations based on season and workload.
Central vs Local: who oversees marketing?
LC: Each team oversees their own marketing, but we have a person who oversees the communication from our House as to not bombard people with too much information all the time.
LH: We are shifting to local control. Central has overseen most for years, but we’re trying to give more authority to the local level with accountability coming in the form of budget.
How do you measure success?
LC: People coming to know Jesus.
LH: Are we on schedule, on budget, on mission. What stories are we hearing from the church? Did we help people?
How do you keep messaging consistent?
LC: Have one message – it’s all about Jesus.
LH: This has been our strongest area in the past, but we’ve recently restructured and made this the sole responsibility of the Communications Director — messaging strategy (what are we saying, to whom, how, when).
What is the win in social media?
LH: Engagement/interactivity and information.
What does the creative process look like for your team?
LC: From a design standpoint, we have a small team. 2. Myself included. So it looks different for us. We have a simple online form that anyone on our team can fill out and request a design. We have several questions they fill out with details about the project (i.e. how will this be used? Is this going to print? Requested due dates for first round of comps. Approved copy, any art direction or logos needed to complete the project. This get emailed to my team and the requester’s supervisor. (we’ve found this helpful and helps keep the supervisor informed on what has been requested and what is in the works). The all gets automatically populated onto a request board, and our team works out our Trello board. Trello has been a huge help to our team to centralize all the requests that come in.
LH: We have it posted on Drop Box for you to review. www.crosspoint.tv/cat15
How big is your department, how is your team structured, and what do you look for in new team members?
LC: What meetings are your team involved in? My team (Design) consists of myself and another designer. Once in a while, we will contract out other designers to help with the workload.
LH: We have about 35-40 people in our creative department. The whole team attends a 30 minute department meeting every week lead by the Creative Pastor. The 4 supervisors attend the Supper Meeting every week with the Creative Pastor. Every team uses their own discretion outside those meetings to add any other additional meetings. Most other meetings are highly tactical and have to do with syncing up or pre-production. How did you hire your employees? What order did you hire in? What qualities do you look for in a person who would lead this team?
LC: I feel like the talent can be developed and coached, so we look at the heart of a person – how invested are they in the church and do they have an active relationship with Jesus.
LH: Do you love Jesus. Do our values align. Do you love how we do church. What does your past performance tell us about you. Specific qualities would be: initiatives, resolve/grit, loyalty, critical thinking.
What’s some advice that you would give to someone just starting out?
LC: Plant yourself in the church. There aren’t any ladders to climb. Louie said something like this in the past that has always stuck with me. He says something to the extent of… God knows where you are and will elevate who He wants to elevate, when He wants to elevate them and as far as He wants to take them.
LH: Know the problem you’re trying to solve and be honest about solving it. You may discover what you’re working toward isn’t really what you’re working toward.
I hope you guys enjoyed the chat. If there is another question we could help you with tweet me @B_REWSTER