Kevin’s Review …
Over the years, I’ve worked with our teaching and creative arts teams to help them improve their processes. What a challenge! Getting something this big and complicated on paper in a way that actually helps, has proven to be quite an effort.
At one point along the way, I believe it was 2007, my learning process included attending a Big Idea Breakout Session at a Willow Creek Arts Conference. Dave Ferguson and Eric Bramlett, Lead Pastor and Lead Arts guy at Community Christian Church (CCC), facilitated the breakout and, as I remember, it was excellent! I got so much out of it that I quickly bought the book and read it. Much of what ended up in our Service Planning and Design Process is thanks to the breakout and the book.
The book authors have done a great job of putting a process in place that gets the job done.
Here’s a chapter listing:
Part 1: Little Ideas or Big Ideas?
1. No More Christians!
2. Communities of Transformation, Not Information
3. Creating Missional Velocity
Part 2: What’s the Big Idea?
4. The Genius of the “And”
5. Changing Churches One Big Idea at a Time
Part 3: Create Your Own Big Idea
6. Creating Your Own One-Year Big Idea Plan
7. Implementing Your Big Idea Plan
8. The Two Most Important Players in the Big Idea
9. The Big Idea Creative Team Meeting
10. The Big Idea Teaching Team Meeting
11. The Implicit Big Idea
Part 4: A Really Big Idea
12. Creating and Reproducing Big Idea Networks
The first part of the book makes the case for the concept of implementing the Big Idea in the church. Dave writes that “more information = less clarity.” He says that we “bombard” the people attending our churches with so many competing little ideas that they fail to get much, if anything, out of the experience on Sunday. Good point I think. In chapter 4 he says, “What we are discovering is that offering people just one Big Idea at a time results in more action, not less.”
Chapter 2 is devoted to the Big Idea as it relates to community. Dave begins the chapter with the story of an elderly man who dies and is not discovered until 4 years later … then only because developers (who purchased his house at a tax auction) come to take possession of the house. They enter only to find a man’s body, almost completely decomposed, still sitting in his living room chair. The story underscores the state of loneliness many people experience. At CCC the Big Idea is implemented in all areas including the small group.
The most useful (to me anyway) part of the book is Part 3 where Dave describes the actual Big Idea process. The bottom line is that planning ahead (One-Year Big Idea Plan) and collaborating in all parts of the process of creating awesome weekend experiences is better than the way most churches get it done every weekend – working on this weekend this week.
The Big Idea process starts with development of a One-Year Big Idea Plan with a “Creative Brainstorming Gathering” that includes representatives from each group that will implement the Big Idea. This, of course, includes some key volunteers from each ministry area. Dave says, “At CCC, we extend an open invitation to any staff member in any ministry to attend these brainstorming gatherings.” The calendar is finalized during a “Decision-Making Meeting” where key decision makers go through a step-by-step process to actually create the calendar. The book includes a great example of the calendar.
After the calendar is created, 13 weeks ahead of the beginning of a series “Big Idea Graphs” are created by the “teaching/preaching arm” of the church. Page 108 shows a great example of one of these graphs. The Big Idea Graphs are distributed to all ministry areas 10 to 13 weeks out. Nine weeks out the Big Idea creative team begins working on actually creating the services. “At CCC, we walk out of the Big Idea creative team meeting with a clear plan for the upcoming celebration service, including sketch/story development, special music, worship songs, video ideas, and the order of service, all the way down to how many minutes each segment should be.”
Five weeks out there’s a “Big Idea Reality Check” to make sure what the team planned a month ago still makes sense. Three weeks out the teaching team gets together to brainstorm ideas for the sermon and to delegate responsibility for writing the different parts of the actual manuscript. That’s right! At CCC all of the members of the teaching team collaborate in writing each sermon! Can you believe it? Dave says this method reduces the amount of time it takes to write a sermon by almost 10 hours per week. Worth looking into, I would say.
Two weeks out the teaching team has collectively produced the first draft of the manuscript and 1 week out there’s a production team meeting to make sure everyone is on the same page and that all the details are worked out.
Jon Ferguson writes Chapter 8 – The Two Most Important Players in the Big Idea. He does an excellent job of describing the “trust and risk” relationship between the lead pastor and lead Arts person. An important factor in this relationship is that there needs to be a “friendship” between these two individuals. They should be spending lots of time together and actually “like” each other. Jon writes about “proximity” as an important factor in the relationship. Basically, their offices need to be near each other.
The bottom line is that this book is a “must read” for those of you who struggle to get it done each weekend. I highly recommend that you read the book and rethink your own process!