Imagine a video team, a worship team, a photography team, a design team, a songwriting team, and a web and social media team, all working together as one unit! Sound like a dream? It’s possible and Chris Vacher from C4 Church has done it.
As worship leaders, we want our churches to be creatively excellent for the glory of God. But how do we get all these teams to work together? What if we don’t even have any of these teams? Where would we start? In this episode, Chris shares how to form new creative teams, where to find the right people, how to set creative vision, keep the teams working together, and actually produce great creative content on a regular basis.
Whether you’re a solo worship leader in charge of this year’s Christmas program, or you’re wanting to start a songwriting team, or you’re in charge of all the creative elements for your worship services, this episode will help you and your church produce better, more cohesive creative content!
Our Sponsor This Month – Planning Center
Planning Center is the ultimate tool for scheduling teams, planning worship services, selecting song sets, communicating with team members, hosting chord charts and mp3's and so much more! Sign up and get 30 days free at planningcenter.com
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Chris Vacher 00:00 At the end of the day, like your church is left with some great creative work, and some amazing photographers. That’s not the core mission and mandate of your church. The core mission is to make disciples to glorify war. So how are you doing that as you are helping people write great songs and helping people develop as photographers. Hello, and
Alex Enfiedjian 00:36 welcome back to another episode of the worship ministry training podcast. My name is Alex Enfiedjian, your host, thank you so much for tuning in to listen and learn and hopefully be encouraged. As a worship leader. I wanted to let you know if you didn’t know that we also have a website along with this podcast that has a bunch of free resources for worship leaders. So if you haven’t been there yet, you can check it out at worship ministry training COMM And specifically, we have a free resources page that has a free ebook about building great song sets. There’s a kebo cheat sheet. There’s a Nashville numbers cheat sheet. There’s a bunch of free chord charts. And there’s an audition template packet that you can download and change to fit your own churches needs. So check all that out at worship ministry training, comm slash resources. Today we’re going to be talking about forming and leading creative teams who actually get things done. Just imagine it’s four months before Easter, and your pastor comes to you. And he says I want to do a special creative piece for Easter this year. That includes an original song, a corresponding original video, some graphic art and some cool lighting. How would you in your current role at your current church? How would you begin pulling all the pieces together to pull this off? Like how would you rally your team around that idea? How would you dream it up together creatively? And then how would you delegate tasks and put legs to it? Do you even have the people right now at your church who could do that? So this episode is full of wisdom from Chris Shea, who is a pastor at sea for church in Canada. And he has just built some incredible creative teams up there in the snowy country. And we talk a lot about building creative teams. We talked about defining creative clarity around goals and setting up meetings and checkpoints, to get your teams to actually put legs to the idea and accomplish them. So looking forward to sharing this episode with you. But before we do, I want to tell you about our recommended product this month Planning Center which we’ve talked about a lot, but we use Planning Center at my church to schedule all of our volunteers in the creative arts department. So from the musicians to the lighting people, audio people stage crew video team, everyone gets scheduled on Planning Center. And the cool thing is when someone cancels on Planning Center, you get notified immediately on your smartphone and your email. And then it’ll even recommend replacements based on the people’s availability. So it’s definitely worth seeing if it’d be a benefit to your church, you can check it out totally free for 30 days, and then plans start at just $14 a month. So check it out by going to planning dot center or clicking the links in the show notes. Okay, let’s jump into our episode today about leading creatives and actually getting things done. Hey, everyone, I’m here with my friend Chris vishay. From C for church in Canada. Hey, Chris, how are you? Hey, Alex, good to talk to you, man. Thanks for being on the podcast all the way from Canada all the way. Man. The internet is a beautiful thing. I can talk to smart people all over the world.
Chris Vacher 03:37 Thank you, technology. That’s right. Oh, it’s great to be with you. Great to be back on your podcast and great to see you this way. Again, good to catch up.
Alex Enfiedjian 03:44 Totally. So Chris, you’re at sea for church, amazing church doing things really, really well when it comes to creativity, like multiple facets of creativity like video, audio, songwriting, production, all that stuff, graphics, but you guys are killing it up there. And I think, you know, one of the things that we kind of talked about before we hit record is just how worship pastors tend to kind of be handed all the creative stuff that goes on to service flow and stuff. And so I thought it’d be good to have you come talk about developing creative teams, leading Creative People and actually getting things done with you know, what we would tend to think is like herding cats, you know, creative So, but before we talk about that, can you maybe just tell us a little bit about your church context. So our listeners kind of know where you’re coming from and what’s going on. They’re
Chris Vacher 04:34 happy to see for church, we are just east of Toronto. It’s a region of about 750,000 people. The City of Toronto is about 6 million people. It’s a big place. And there’s a lot of people here, and a lot of them do not know Jesus. And so our heart from the very beginning has been to reach people who don’t know Christ. Our church has been alive and thriving for 30 years. Five years ago, we really set out I think really clearly and knowing who We are, who God’s calling us to be and the trajectory that we’re on. I’ve been on staff here for four and a half years, I started as the worship pastor became the creative arts pastor. And now I’m in an executive pastor role, I oversee our multi site philosophy and strategy, we now have three locations, we’re getting ready next year to launch our fourth, I also oversee what happens in our worship services. So in our original location, we’re getting ready to launch three services to our church context, we will be a pretty contemporary expression of worship, pretty modern, we write a lot of our own stuff, but a service would be similar to, you know, what you’d see it, elevation or Hillsong, or a harvest Bible, chapel, vertical church, that kind of expression. We’re pretty we try to be creative not to like trick people. But that’s just like that’s in our blood. That’s who we are. That’s kind of our church culture, in terms of size, because that always plays into these things, our congregations, we just crossed this threshold of 3000 people. And for some people, that’s an astronomical number. And for some people, you know, they’ve got the sites at their church of 3000 people, but that’s a reality for us. We’re in kind of the 2000 attendance every week, we have one full time staff member in our worship ministry. So we’re not staff heavy. We have a lot of volunteers. And yeah, I mean, we’ll talk about this a little bit, but like learning how to work with artists and creatives and getting them to actually produce great work, but more than that, like to produce the life of Christ in them as disciples and followers of Jesus. That’s the heart of everything we do.
Alex Enfiedjian 06:29 Yeah, that’s awesome. And like you said, 3000 people is is huge to some people. And there are many of our listeners who are working in large churches like that. But there are many of our listeners who are working in literally like 60 5030 person churches. And so the things we’re going to be talking about today in terms of creativity, and creating creative teams, and leading creatives, you know, some of the some of the ways that it’s going to look in a large church is going to look very different in a small church. But the principles and the concepts, hopefully, that we talk about will be you know, you’ll be able to kind of mold and apply in any situation. So
Chris Vacher 07:03 yeah, exactly. Yeah. I mean, church, church size doesn’t really have relevance on this, like people were people and problems or problems. We have locations where there’s attendance of 100 people before I was here, I was on staff at a church of 600 800. So yeah, I’ve been on staff. And I’ve been, you know, in leadership opportunities that all kinds of different sizes, things are not easier, just because we are a bigger church. But yeah, you’re right. There are some principles that apply, like regardless of size, or you know, how big or how small your places.
Alex Enfiedjian 07:34 Yeah. So let’s talk about creative teams at your church. Tell us about the various teams that you have, what kind of teams are they? And how many of them are there, and maybe how many different people in all of them together?
Chris Vacher 07:48 How many people I think we you know, when we would invite people to like a creative team night, I think it’s about 140 150 invitations. And that would be worship teams. So musicians and singers, worship leaders, production teams, so lighting and video and projection. We have songwriting teams, we have a team of songwriters. And we can talk about that, because that’s been a ton of fun over the last few years. We have photographers that help us with some of that stuff. I think the biggest thing is like what is a team and a team is like this, this unified group of people focused around the same goal. So the team development with all these different kind of artists last few years has been a ton of fun.
Alex Enfiedjian 08:27 Yes, that’s a lot of teams and a lot of creativity. And you have to kind of spearhead all of that, which keeps you busy. Needless to say, Now, we’re these teams already there when you came, or is this something that you developed when you arrived?
Chris Vacher 08:40 Yeah, we did have worship leaders. And there were people who played as part of worship teams from Sunday to Sunday. But when I came, I wouldn’t say we had like a community of worship team members. It was one of the things that I sort of diagnosed and looked to fix and to foster really quickly when I came here. We had people who would show up and play as part of the worship team on Sunday, but there wasn’t a real sense of, you know, we’re encouraging each other. We’re developing each other. We’re bringing new people along, we’re apprenticing each other, we’re championing each other, you know, we’re learning together, we’re taking new ground together. Yeah, that’s been developed together as a team over the last four years.
Alex Enfiedjian 09:20 And like photography team, is that something that you said, We need a team of photographers and let’s find them
Chris Vacher 09:25 or Yeah, and that was sort of in tandem with our communications director, where we said, you know, some of the things that we want to do with social media or even just telling stories, and this isn’t just for what happens in the worship service, but in our kids ministry, or in our youth ministry, or with our global partners. So yeah, we have some people who just have been given opportunities and trained and then released into taking great, really great photos that kind of capture the life of what’s happening on our church.
Alex Enfiedjian 09:51 So let’s say you come to this church, or let’s say someone’s listening, and they’re already at a church and they’re like, I wish we had a lighting team and a songwriting team, and And I wish we had a photography team to capture like you said stuff for social media. How did you find these people? Where did you find them? And how did you kind of bring them together and say, This is what we’re going to be doing? Was it? You know, just yeah, word of mouth? or How did you find people?
Chris Vacher 10:17 I mean, for me, the beauty of it is if you have a vision of what you want to do, you will find people who will say yes. So in particular with our songwriting ministry, our leadership before I came here, there was this vision that we would be a church that would be known as a place where people write songs out of the stories of what God’s doing here. So our own church could sing and celebrate God in that way. And so when I came, I shared that vision, and I was on board with it on 9%. And so we started developing, like, what could this look like? Well, I can see the day where we’re recording and releasing albums, original worship songs, I can see the day when we have a team that goes and leads worship for conferences, I can see the day when, you know, we have people who the way that they serve in our church is by writing songs and giving them to our congregation. Right. And so you have these conversations where you start to cast vision. And then what you find is there are people who step up and say yes to that, then becomes the team development process of Are you the right people? Are you, you know, do you have the right skill set. But I think it starts with vision. So I am a solo worship leader at my church, and I want to build a team of worship leaders, how are you going to build the vision for that and start to communicate it to people, whether it’s your senior pastor or some other musicians on your team and start to say, Hey, I can see the day we’re at this church. You know, I’m the primary worship leader, but I’m only two Sundays a month, and we’re gonna have two other people who each lead one Sunday, a month, I wonder what that would look like? How would I train other people and give them opportunities and help them to do that? Some of that stuff really just comes by being whether you’re naturally a visionary leader, or being able to find a way to communicate that vision. If you are a visionary leader, that’s pretty easy. If you’re not, you know, really going before the Lord and seeking What does God want for your church, talking with other leaders, talking with pastors, elders in your church, talking with other people in ministry and saying, like, how have you done this, but I really, really believe at the end of the day, that it starts with vision. And if you can cast a vision for it, you will see that there will be people around you who will step up and say yes, because of the vision for your place, and the vision from the Lord. God is very, very good. And God is very, very generous. And God is not going to give you vision for something and then not provide a way for that vision to be fulfilled. He gives you a vision for songwriting team for worship, leading team for photography team. The good news is over time, God is going to provide what’s needed. You have the responsibility as a leader to steward that, and to help develop people into it. But I think at the end of the day, it starts with vision.
Alex Enfiedjian 12:43 Yeah, without vision, the people perish. And then, like you said, it’s not just having the vision, but communicating the vision. So the more clearly you can communicate that to people and then you’ll start to see people come out of the woodwork. Now, on a practical level, how did people come out of the woodwork? Did you put announcements in the bulletin? Did you Where did you find these people? Like you’re not just sitting in your room talking to two people and then 80 people come out of the woodwork. So
Chris Vacher 13:07 what happens? So the the first big move we made was we started auditions for our worship teams. So we had, like I said, there were some people who served regularly as part of the worship team on Sunday. But there wasn’t really this. We are a team together. And even thinking the worship volunteers and the production volunteers, you know, working together on a Sunday as a team that wasn’t really present. And when we started doing auditions, what we were saying was, we want more people on this team. And what I was able to say is we’re doing auditions, because we’re looking for people with great skill and great character. And maybe it’s what we’ve talked about before on your podcast. But Psalm 7872 is his driving ministry verse for me. God calls David out of the sheep bowl to shepherd Israel with an upright heart guide them of a skillful hand. That’s how we want to build our team, upright hearts skillful hand. And so this is what we’re going to do for audition. They’re going to start to build this team in the beginning. And if we were a church, where yes, some of those things could be announced from the front. One of the things that happens in churches, as you get larger, it’s harder to make announcements like that. You got to find the right places with it. Social media becomes really easy. You know, charging people, invite your friends, tell them about it, that the auditions were the first big one. The next big one we did was about a year into my time here, we started saying, okay, it feels like we’ve got a team. We’ve done some auditions, we’ve done some training, we feel like we’ve got a team. And then we started doing what we call creative community nights. creative community night is where we moved from. We’re here just to fill the role on Sunday to now how are we going to build creative values across our teams and really across our whole church? And how are we going to build these relationships among each other so that there’s some really strong community. And if you do a teen night and you see churches that do teen nights, you know, once a month, once every two months, creative community was like our version of team night. And so we gathered all of our creative volunteers together, we worship together. I do About a 15 minute vision talk, and then we offer them workshops. And the workshops are skill based, or heart based heart and hands, we call it scalar character. And that is, you know, the last few years, that’s where we’ve seen the community really driving, we’re now it’s not like, you know, a team is like we’re in this because we want to serve well on this team together community is, oh, we’re in this because I love these people. And that’s the reality we exist in. Now. We’ve got these, this real strong community bonds among people. And I think like creative community night is for creative volunteers. But actually, we open it up anybody from our church can come if you’re interested in serving in a creative role. So then it becomes like a recruiting tool. In a sense, people can come and find out about auditions or like, if you’re a photographer, and you want to come this is the place where you can come to take your first step into the creative community here.
Alex Enfiedjian 15:48 Yeah, that’s really helpful. And you had talked about people coming out of the woodwork, but you also have to help them find the right spot, like, is this person even a good fit? So for example, songwriting, like when I talked with Andy rozier, he said, You should hand select your songwriters, people who you know, can wrap their head around, you know, a chorus and a melody and a lyric and all that stuff. So when you have people coming to join your creative community that you’ve kind of this big melting pot, how do you help direct people into the right spot? Or maybe help them realize that, hey, you’re not quite gifted in this area? Why don’t you try this area? There’s that just a natural one on one conversation type thing?
Chris Vacher 16:24 Man, those are the worst conversations when it comes to being a ministry. Because like, nobody gets in ministry to say no to people, right? Like, who loves. I know, there are people who love having those conversations. And the truth is, there are people who are so so good at having those conversations. I don’t love having them. But I’ve learned over time, the pain of that conversation is way, way, way less than the pain of not having enough courage to have the conversation and somebody gets into a role where they’re not a good fit. And they’re not thriving, and they’re not helping build community. And they’re taking the spot from somebody else. The pain of that six months, in 12 months, in three years in is way more significant than the pain of having the courage to sit down and have a conversation and say, I know there’s a desire here. I know you feel like you have something to offer, but it’s just not going to be a good fit. What we’ve done, I would agree with Andy hand selecting songwriters, I mean, but to go on the songwriting thing, because that is a really tricky one. Where people, you know, the Lord gave me a song, or I have a song, and I think it should be done on Sunday. We’ve done a lot of work to really help frame what we’re trying to do in our songwriting ministry with our songwriting teams. So for us, we’ve created kind of a pathway. The pathway for us is what we’ve done is we created twice a year, we have a Saturday songwriting workshop. And we offer that to anyone and it’s paid, you have to pay to come and we have learning from our some of our own songwriters, and some outside songwriters who were well known and really unbelievable. And we see who comes to that who’s willing to give a Saturday and pay make a financial sacrifice to come. And then how do they do during that day. And then we assign homework and we watch to see who does the homework. And then out of that we invite people, if we feel like it’s a good fit to come to our songwriting retreats and our writing retreats, we do two or three times a year. But yeah, I would say when it comes to songwriting, that’s where songwriting is a dicey thing, man. And it’s, we’ve tread very lightly and very slowly. But it’s been a really cool process.
Alex Enfiedjian 18:25 I think those two words lightly and slowly are very important in developing creatives and creative teams, because what I found here at our churches, I want to say yes to people, but I want to put them in the lowest and simplest, like, I don’t even know what the right word is, but the least common denominator like okay, you can drum Alright, well, I want you to start by playing a shaker in the men’s ministry. That’s where you’re going to start, like I’m saying yes to you. And I’m saying there’s a process of development. And so I think the key is having a pathway or a process to develop people is probably the most fruitful way to develop team. Yeah,
Chris Vacher 19:02 yeah. And people want to know that, too. They want to know, you know, I’m willing to play shaker in the men’s ministry. If it means that if I proved myself faithful and qualified, I will get opportunities to continue on if you’re saying go play shaker in the men’s ministry, because really, I’m just too scared to say no to you. That’s a separate conversation. And that’s true. It’s just not fair. It’s not right. It’s not healthy for either of you. But yeah, but if you say, Hey, listen, there’s a road here where we need to see how committed to you you are and how and how capable you are, how competent you are. I can see the day where you can be part of our worsening, just not yet. People respond really well to that. But if you’re putting them there, just because you’re too afraid to say I don’t think you can hack this, then you’re you know, you’re not doing your job properly.
Alex Enfiedjian 19:48 Yeah, totally. I think one of the other aspects of my question where I asked you about shaping the people that come out of the woodwork into what you want them to be, I think one of the aspects of what I was asked Thing is, how do you get excellence out of these people? You know, like you have these new photographers? How do you, you know, point them in the right direction and have conversations with them to actually get the photographs that you want to put on the internet? What does that look like?
Chris Vacher 20:15 Yeah, I tried to do this very intentionally in the sense that I have a vision and a dream of what I’d like to see happen. But I don’t necessarily know every step on how we’re going to get there. I don’t know how to work a camera. I’m a decent songwriter. I’m not a great songwriter. I’m pretty good co writer, I can’t drum I can. I’m a keys player. I’m an acoustic guitar player, I don’t know how to work a soundboard. So you’ve got to figure out what level of technical knowledge you have. And that’s important. But what’s more important is to say, we want to end up with photos that look like this that tell this story. So one thing we did this is a few years ago, we actually created like a lookbook for our photographers. And we went online, and we found some photos that said, do this, do this, do this. And we found photos that we did not want, don’t do this, don’t do this, don’t do this. And it’s not because that was right. And this was wrong, or that was good. And this was bad. It was just what we wanted. And photographers are visual people. So if we put something in front of them that visual, go for this, not for that, Oh, great. Now I know what you’re expecting, like a lot of times with artists, but one of the frustrations that happens, especially if you don’t have a creative leader, if you’re in a smaller church, or a church where you’ve got a senior pastor leading the worship teams, there isn’t a real clear level of expectation. And sometimes leaders are afraid to give artists expectations because they’re free spirits, and we can’t box them in. And actually, that’s not true at all artists thrive, when there are really clear expectations and limitations. Because they’re creative, they’re really good at coming up with good solutions within limitations. So give them clear expectations, give them what you’re going for, and you’ll, you’ll find that people will want to do it. So the photography example is one but that can get into if you are a singer who’s a worship leader. And you know, you need some good electric guitar players, you don’t play electric guitar, send them some audio, you know, some examples of some songs like this is the sound that we’re going for, can you do this, this is not the sound we’re going for, can you do this rather than trying to so just again, like hold up the vision before them and let them see it.
Alex Enfiedjian 22:21 That’s a really helpful and practical and you can apply that to any discipline. So these are the types of songs we want to write, listen to these, this is the type of live stream video work we want to have. So watch 100 episodes of this, this is what we don’t want to do. And I like that you give them the positive and the negative. So with that whole concept of you’re giving this creative vision for what you want, does that all come from you? Are you the one who decides I want the photos to be this type of photography, I want the lighting to be this type of lighting, as the creative arts pastor Do you get to dictate to the I guess dictates the wrong word, but cast vision to all the departments of this is what I want it to look like and feel like and be like.
Chris Vacher 23:01 So yeah, I think this is gonna play out differently based on your own personality as a leader. And I think there is something about the personality of your church, and maybe even geographic. So like in Canada, we’re a socialist country, everything is about democracy. And we’re all in this together. And we do not do well with being told what to do. So if I, as a leader came in and said, Hey, welcome to see four, you’re going to do this, we’re going to do that this is where we’re going, it just wouldn’t go well, people get their backup, they stopped listening to you, they think you’re a no at all. And so I mean, this works really well, this is of my own personality being good Canadian. So what I try to do is bring the right people around the table, and we’re going to build consensus. And we’re going to decide together the direction now, obviously, I’m going to lead and influence that conversation. But it doesn’t really benefit me to be kind of a solo decision maker. There are places and there are personalities where you do need to be that. So there are places in the world and maybe California is one of those places, but places where people are quite happy to follow the decision, the clear decision of the leader. If that’s the case, go for it. Make the decision, be clear, set the expectations. There are times even in a concert of a more consensus based model that we have. There are times where Yes, I have to make a decision. So we’ve been really clear two nights ago, we got together with our writers and we’re listening to some of the songs we were writing at the last season. I think we listened to about 18 songs. We can’t give 18 songs to our band for them to introduce on Sunday though the next little watts too many songs, we have to decide what are the 234 songs that are going to move forward to the next stage, ultimately, and the way we built it out. I decide that now I don’t decide that on my own. I asked for input. I hear from people I tried to read the room and get a sense of are we all on board together and then as I decide really I’m deciding the decision of the group but that responsibility is On me at the end of the day, so the I think you gotta weigh those to keep them in tension. You got to know your congregation, you got to know your own leadership style, there isn’t one right answer. But if you are in a place that is more consensus driven, and you go in as a solo deciding leader, you’re going to last a couple years, and then people are gonna stop listening to you. At the same time, if you’re trying to build consensus, and what people really want is just tell us what to do. You’re never going to get anything done unless you step up a little bit and say, This is what we’re gonna do. Yeah. And people will respond to that in a follow up.
Alex Enfiedjian 25:32 I’m learning that because I would rather just say, Well, I like this, and you should do it the way that I like, but it doesn’t really work very well. I’m learning so darn it. That’s much easier. But I think more fruit comes out of groupthink as well. So let’s jump a couple questions here. I want to ask you how you get your various departments working together. So I kind of want to ask a couple questions. One of them is like, man, who are you meeting with? And when? And how, like, if you have all these different creative departments? How do you What does your schedule look like to make sure everyone’s moving together? But also, how do you get them to work together? in a general sense?
Chris Vacher 26:12 Yeah, I wish I could say, Oh, it’s really clean, and it’s perfect. And we’ve got it all figured out. So I mentioned our communication director and the way in our structure, some of the creative volunteers like photography, and video is actually related more to communication than to worship. But we’re very integrated. We work together a lot on projects. So one example might be our last album that we did, called what is a mountain when it came out, that was driven by songwriters, but also involved worship teams, graphic designers, photographers, and video. And so the way it works for us is as far away from launch date as possible, like, as soon as I know, we’re going to release an album, I want to bring the stakeholders around the table, not to make decisions, but just to talk and dream. And let’s get ideas on the table. What I find a lot of times what happens with creative leaders, is you go so far down the path in your own mind, you’ve got this thing so visioned out, and so clarified that when you bring in the graphic designer or the photographer, you’re not actually really able to express clearly the vision in your mind, or at least how you got there. And then you get into fights. And what about this? And what about that, and why don’t we do it this way, and then you feel defeated, and you might not get your way. And then you feel bad about yourself and all that stuff. Where what we tried to do is we tried to give as much runway as possible. And we’ve developed this habit here, where we try to put in place what I call the pressure principle. So what I want to do is on any project that’s involving creative teams, especially multiple creative teams, artists work really well in high pressure situations. It’s why they procrastinate, they’re not procrastinating, because they’re lazy. They’re procrastinating because they love the adrenaline rush of getting something done when the pressure is on. And usually they’re good at it, which is a bad trap to fall into. So what I want to do is, I want to create multiple pressure points between today and release day. And I want to create deadlines, real or false, it doesn’t matter. But I’ll have that first meeting and say, okay, in two weeks, I want us to come back with our best ideas. Do we need those ideas two weeks out for a project that’s going to release nine months later? Not really. But if I give a deadline and remind people the deadline and drive into the deadline, by day 10, and 11 and 12, the pressure starts to ramp and all of a sudden, by day 14, we get some good ideas. Because the pressure is on rather than waiting until the 11th hour when like these are our best ideas. But now we don’t have any margin to let the pressure release. And that’s the other side of it too. Because what happens is creatives do their best work in high pressure scenarios. But creatives do really really good work when the pressure is released as well. And the work the creative center then is the editing. Oh, I thought this was good. But like what about that color? Or what about seeing it from this angle? But what about this word? Or like, Oh, I just heard something new on the radio. What about that. And if you don’t have that margin on the backside of the pressure, you can’t get that. And so to have this pressure principle where you’re where you’ve got time, with multiple voices and multiple disciplines around the table has been super, super energizing for us. Okay,
Alex Enfiedjian 29:29 let’s pause one second and I want to just know what it looks like for you to remind them about the deadline. are you texting them? Hey, guys, like Remember, you know, in four days, bring your best ideas, because one thing I’ve found is like, I’ll tell people do this. And I don’t want to remind them I don’t want to micromanage them. I don’t want to read down their neck and then it’s like, hey, by the way, did you all do this thing that I told you to do it because today’s the day and they’re like, no, sorry, we forgot and you’re all irresponsible and I hate you. But what does it look like?
Chris Vacher 30:00 Yeah, so what we found is the trick is, the deadline has to be an in person meeting. And we only learned this maybe a year ago. But I’ll tell you, man, since we’ve started doing this, it is gold. Because if you meet to give any say like, oh, email me your best ideas in two weeks, it’s not going to happen. And then yeah, you get into like, Hey, guys remember, but if you say, hey, two weeks from today, we’re going to meet together again, and we’re going to bring our best buddies. This has worked for us in songwriting, where we said, like, Hey, take the songs, and let’s go work on them. We now have listening parties on the calendar, because now the pressure is on, you got to come and bring something to a meeting. And there’s other people. And if you don’t, we’re gonna shame you.
Alex Enfiedjian 30:45 And do you text them also, like a few days before? Or do you just let them try to be responsible for it?
Chris Vacher 30:50 Yeah, I know, I tried to check in and do some encouragement along the way. Because we’ve been doing this for a while, like people get it, they understand they play ball, you know what I mean? We don’t use like a project management software or anything like that. Like everything is driven primarily with email and some texting, but, but it’s a really cool way. But you got to have runway to do that. You got to have time and space to be able to do that. Okay,
Alex Enfiedjian 31:13 I love the pressure principle. I love getting everybody together early. Now, let’s kind of keep going down the process. So for you, it was an album, but for our listeners, it might be a Christmas program. Or it might be an Easter thing where your pastor wants something with video lighting, he wants some cool graphics, he wants an original song. So you sit everyone around the table, you do these pressure points along the way. And then you’re just what you’re just making sure everyone sits around the table every couple of weeks and delegate responsibilities until things come to fruition. Is that kind of what the process looks like to make your teams work together?
Chris Vacher 31:46 Yeah, for big stuff for big projects, where I know, okay, we really got to be on our game for this. What I want to do is from the beginning, I want to develop a project plan. So I’ll put all of those meetings on a calendar, because the worst thing is like, oh, we’re a month out, and nobody knows what’s going on. Now. Can we get a meeting? Well, forget it. There’s business trips, and there’s family stuff and I’m sick and that you get those dates on calendar early out. So you know, you’ve got those checkpoints, that would be number one for sure. The second thing would be and again, sometimes this is tough for creative leaders, because either you don’t do this enough, or you do it too much. Somebody has to be in charge. Somebody has to be the decider. Somebody has to be the creative director. So if you’re doing a Christmas service, somebody has to make decisions. Are the lights going to be red or green? Are we going to sing winter wonderland? Or are we going to sing Silent night, somebody has to decide that, that doesn’t necessarily need to be the worship pastor or the creative pastor, it could be the senior pastor or it could be somebody who’s a part of the team discussions. But the buck has to stop with somebody. And a lot of times, if you just have a bunch of creatives around that circle, you just argue with each other in love, and like, very complimentary, but you never get to the place of actually making a decision. And then feelings get hurt, you don’t get stuff done. So early in the process, you’ve got to decide somebody needs the responsibility of making a decision here. The third thing I’d say is, one thing we try to do, and I try to do this as a discipline is try to experience the event through the eyes of the attendee, what do you want people to experience? What do you want them to feel? I say a lot of times when we’re talking about events, what do we want people to say when they leave? What do you want them to say? Because leaders get to decide what people are going to experience? So try to see it through the eyes of the attendee, and then come back as you’re making decisions and having conversations, do we do this? Or that? How does that impact people’s experience and what we’re trying to get them to do? That would be three things along the way to help with some of that stuff?
Alex Enfiedjian 33:46 Yeah, that’s really helpful. Now, who’s sitting around those tables? Is it the department heads? Like, does your photography team have a volunteer lead that you interact with most and that they disperse that information down? Or how does that work?
Chris Vacher 34:00 Yeah, good question. So we don’t really have a fixed way of doing it. I would say, depending on the project, and what needs to get accomplished, we will bring the right people for the right project, we don’t have necessarily like a Creative Leadership Team. We don’t have people who you know, are the voice of photographers, or the voice of lighting directors or anything like that. It’s really around the right people for the right project.
Alex Enfiedjian 34:24 So you don’t have anybody over your photographers. So who’s interfacing with them? You are?
Chris Vacher 34:29 Yeah, I would be our communication director would be and then they would be talking with each other a lot. That would be a big thing we would encourage is like, you know, we have some of them who are professional photographers, and some who are teenagers just interested in photography. So we encourage them to talk to each other a lot and cheer each other on and teach each other. Okay,
Alex Enfiedjian 34:47 so you’re developing these people just kind of in an organic way. So you’re let’s say you have a Do you guys have a video team in terms of like live stream or?
Chris Vacher 34:57 Yeah, not really. We have I mean, we have cable volunteered on Sunday morning, the songwriting team is probably a good example where we have some people who, you know, are just phenomenal songwriters. And it’s probably the number one way they serve. In our church, we have some people who have come onto our team, just because they love songs, and they think they have some ability there. And so we’ve really encouraged that team to be really close together to encourage one another, we do these retreats where we go away, and we’re really pouring into, these are the kinds of people we’re looking to develop, and it’s less about the output. You know, if you’re a church, even in creative work, it’s still it’s discipleship, right? Like, that’s your core mandate, you’re making disciples. So if you’ve got a photography team, or a songwriting team, or whatever it is, how are you helping them in their discipleship as they are doing their photography as they are writing songs? Same thing with an event like in a Christmas service? How are you helping to make disciples in the expression of this Christmas service? Because at the end of the day, like your church is left with some great creative work, and some amazing photographers. That’s not the core mission and mandate of your church. The core mission is to make disciples to glorify war. So how are you doing that? As you are helping people write great songs and helping people develop as photographers? Now that’s like the joy of ministry? That’s a ton of fun.
Alex Enfiedjian 36:16 Yeah. So maybe, how do you do that? How do you maybe give some tips to leading creatives spiritually? And relationally? Like, how do you Shepherd an artist’s heart?
Chris Vacher 36:26 I wish there was sort of a handbook on this. I think there are some great principles. I mean, scripture, scripture is relevant to any kind of people. So I would say some of the things around expectations in the same way that you’re clear in expectations around creative output, like Are you clear on expectations for your artists. So here, we have five core values around discipleship, like we expect our artists to come to church, all of our creative volunteers, not just when you’re on the worship team, but every Sunday, we expect you to be in a Connect group, we expect you to have your own personal devotional life with the Lord, we expect you to be sharing the work. It’s not just I’m here to do my job, and then go home. And we expect you to engage in mission, you’re sharing your faith, you’re investing your whole life into the mission of God. So you know, to be clear about expectations with that. Artists want relationship. And so how can you build community build friendship, beyond just the role that you’re doing? So, you know, if you do if you do a rehearsal on Thursday, are you taking time in your rehearsal, just to laugh together, get to know each other, ask each other how work is going how your kids, if you don’t do a rehearsal, you know, on your time on Sunday morning, maybe between services, and you got some time where you got some food and coffee, and you can just sit around a room and chat and talk and laugh and develop relations? Are you doing team nights? Are you doing things where people can be developed in scope people are serving in your church because they want to serve. So help them do that equip them in that give them the gift of helping them to get better, but not just with the skill. This is where that whole heart and hands thing, skill and character. So we’ve done workshops on how to prepare for Sunday, not musically, how to prepare your heart for Sunday, we’ve done workshops on different like Bible reading methods, we’ve done a workshop where we’ve taught lectio Divina to artists, just how to get engaged more with Scripture. We’ve done workshops on different ways of praying and making that a real core part of your life. Because our mandate is not just to make musicians but to build and develop disciples. And the other two, I would say, like just continually celebrate what you see in them. So we share stories across our church all the time. And for our worship teams, our songwriting teams, like we get stories all the time where a song that somebody from our church has written, that our team has played, that, you know, we produce an album, how that’s impacting people in our own church, people in other churches, man, you got to share those stories, because that’s going to be an encouragement that’s like fuel for people’s faith as they keep on going. In general, it’s just make sure that there is some intentionality that people in your creative teams know that you value them more for who they are than what they do. that the reason you love them is because they are great gifts, you know, made in the image of God given as treasures to your local church community, and they happen to be great musicians or they have to be great photographers or whatever. But you know, the gift that they are to your community is not their photography. It’s who they are and what the Lord is doing in their life. And that’s tough man because it does go so quickly and so easily to like the functional side like Amen. I’m so excited about this worship team because man, these guys play together so great, or, Oh, I love when the sound guy is on. He makes a team sound good. That’s really tough. And that’s it’s a real tension for people in leadership. And I know it’s been a tension in my life, but just the more I’ve done this more, I’ve been reminded the people that I’ve I’ve had had the most impact on as a pastor. It’s not because I helped them become better musicians or better songwriters. It’s because I helped them in their faith. I helped them in their journey as they follow Jesus, I helped them get connected with other believers into like, really deep community. And so that’s just a really good reminder to keep in front of you, as you’re as you’re going through this, that, at the end of the day, like we’re here to help people follow Jesus better. They just happened to be great musicians as well.
Alex Enfiedjian 40:29 Man, it’s so huge, what you said just relational, is the key thing that creatives want their their after relationship. And I just read a blog from my friend who’s also been on the podcast, Brendan Collier, he was just saying 50% of your communication should be just life. And 50% should be ministry work stuff, you know, like you want to put the people over the function that they play, you know, and I love that. And I think a couple things you said about fostering the spirituality, like you said that Thursday night time where you can just be intentional about asking how people are doing and checking up, and how’s this situation going? Or if it’s in between services on Sunday, whatever. An idea that I had recently about my team is when I first game, it was always all about the music. You know, they were like backstage reading Sweetwater catalogs and stuff. And I was like, Yeah, I want to put you know what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna buy a bookshelf from IKEA. And I’m gonna put a bunch of like cool worship books on that so that maybe they can start like checking out worship and spiritual books from the worship library. So I’m kind of in the process of building that little bookshelf right now. So Oh,
Chris Vacher 41:34 that’s awesome, man. That’s great. And, and whether they know it or not, like, at least they will know. You want something good for them? Right? Like, they’ll love that. That’s awesome. Yeah.
Alex Enfiedjian 41:44 I want to jump back a few thoughts. Were just to talk about project management, you said, you guys do not use any sort of like project management app, it’s just kind of texts and emails that right?
Chris Vacher 41:56 A project management stuff is the worst man like, I don’t know, it seems like everyone out there, whichever one you use, it does something well, and then it doesn’t. And all of the big name ones out there we’ve used and in different seasons, they work but all of them, they start with a different starting point. And we’ve just never found one that from beginning to end works. But I just found over time, email, calendar conversations, and I carry in a notebook with me everywhere, that really is a system unto itself. You know, if you’re in a place where your organization is big enough that you do have a central product, you’re going to make it work and you’re going to live inside that. But I’ve never really found a single system that is, you know, sort of the be all and end all for everyone. So you just got to kind of make it work.
Alex Enfiedjian 42:46 Yeah, I have my own like thing that I used internally with my worship people, staff, people, but our church is it’s really, it’s large. And it’s very event driven. Like we do a lot of like, oh, we’re gonna do this church picnic baptism thing, or we’re gonna do this Halloween or like harvest festival thing. And it’s kind of all hands on deck. And most of the other departments are using Asana. So I finally jumped ship to Asana for project management, and put my whole staff team on it. And it’s like, okay, we’re gonna try to collaborate. So like, yeah, Christmas 2018. We have a Christmas program. You know, there’s like, 100,000 tasks that need to get done. And there are people that need to do them. So let’s, so we’re trying that and we’ll see if it works. But um, yeah, man, it’s crazy.
Chris Vacher 43:29 Let me know, let me know how it goes. Yeah, what I tried to do is just in our weekly team meeting, I mean, maybe this is helpful. I don’t know, we do this little thing called look back. Look ahead, look up. And we do it every Monday in our teaming. Look back, we just look at what happened on Sunday. How did things go across all of our locations? what went well, and what went unexpectedly? And we talked to you that if there’s any issues, and then we do look ahead, what’s coming this Sunday, what do we need to talk about? What do we need to be aware about? And sometimes this involves like, Oh, don’t forget, we’ve got this video, there’s this creative element. And then we do look up and that’s my job look up is like, we got to lift our eyes a little bit. Christmas is coming, Easter is coming. And we just have that weekly check in rhythm where we do that every Monday together.
Alex Enfiedjian 44:09 That’s really good. Yeah, for us, just maybe this will be helpful for the listeners, what it looks like is for our services. We have three different services each week. And so on Wednesday afternoon, I pull up Planning Center and I sit with the video team and the audio guy. And I say okay, like let’s look at the services. Is there anything unusual coming up on the services? Are there any strange videos that are I don’t know about? Are there any baby dedications or whatever, and we talk through just like weekly service stuff, and that’s just a checkpoint it takes five minutes, and we’re at least ahead of the ball. If not, nothing’s gonna catch us by surprise. And then for like bigger events and projects, usually someone upstairs you know, in the administrative or executive staff will call like a large scale meeting and like all the department heads sit around a table. We talk about it, we brainstorm and then we assign roles and stuff like that. So maybe that’ll be kind of helpful for people to hear how we do it here.
Alex Enfiedjian 45:03 All right.
Alex Enfiedjian 45:05 Any final words or things that you feel like we didn’t cover in terms of leading creatives and keeping creative teams working together?
Chris Vacher 45:12 Yeah. I mean, my encouragement would be I just, you know, unfortunately, you see, so many worship leaders, creative leaders just not finished well. And you know, whether that’s burnout, or you sort of give up, or, you know, worse than that. And there are lots of reasons for those. But I would just give a real encouragement, if you’re a creative leader, if you’re a leader over worship teams, or creative teams, is sometimes we see the world through the lens of that’s not fair. You know, why don’t I get to do it this way? Or I’ve got good ideas. Why does everyone say no. And I’ve really found as a leader, and a leader over creatives, to build relationships with not only those that I’m leading, but those who are leading me. So whether that’s your senior pastor, or maybe you report to an executive pastor, or some other people, but open yourself to the possibility that like, just because you’ve got the idea doesn’t mean it’s the best side here, the greatest idea, you have value to play, there’s no doubt in the church needs creative leaders, probably more than ever, our culture, eats, sleeps, and breathes content. And content comes from creative development. And the church is no different people in the church are the same as people outside the church. We are a content saturated society. And so the church needs to present content in a way that speaks the gospel really relevantly and very, truthfully, to our culture. And so you’ve got a very, very important and really sacred role to play. And my encouragement to you just, you know, if you’re a leader, you’re listening, and you’re hearing from this stunning, like, Oh, I wish I got to do that, or I wish they would take my ideas for songwriting stuff. You know, it’s not always the fault of your senior pastor, and why you don’t get to do that. And so open yourself up to the idea in the possibility that God has called you for something very significant in tandem with people around you. And resist the temptation to blame and to just cast negative emotions onto everyone around you. And don’t don’t let that when you have real significant value to offer. The church needs you. Your church needs you. My church needs you, the church around the world needs you. And we’re losing too many good ones, to this disease of pride and rejection. So just a last encouragement to you to not not let that win.
Alex Enfiedjian 47:30 Amen. Chris, you have an awesome blog for creatives. What is your website? Where can people find you?
Chris Vacher 47:36 Yeah, head to Chris fashi.com. You can probably link that in the show notes. And there’s some Yeah, my blogs, I’ve been doing writing that blog for 10 years, and lots of content. There’s a little store where you can download some resources. We talk all about how I do our whole audition process, as well as some songwriting stuff. And then just just like a thing that I’ve done for worship teams, you got a worship team, Bible study, comm worship team Bible study.com. There’s a free 52 week worship team Bible Devotional, and that just hits your inbox every Tuesday. And it’s a Bible study some reflections and questions and a prayer. And it’s sort of set it and forget it kind of thing. Use it as a starting point for you to have a year’s worth of Bible study content for your worship team.
Alex Enfiedjian 48:18 Yeah, that’s super, super cool. So definitely check that out. And then I love your little list of apps for worship leaders. So if you guys are interested in what apps are helpful as a worship leader, check out his app list, also at his website. And that’s Chris vishay, which is VA ch er.com is French francais. Hi, man, thank you so much for blessing our listeners. And we’ll we’ll be in touch again. I’m sure. Thanks, Alex. Really appreciate the invitation, man. Thanks for the chat. Just want to encourage you what Chris said, you know, the church needs more creative people, it needs more creative content. And we should be putting out the most beautiful, excellent artwork that the world has ever seen. So let’s build some creative teams and do great things for the kingdom of God. Like I said at the beginning of the podcast, be sure to check out worship ministry training comm for our free resources and also check out planning dot center to see if Planning Center would be a huge help to you as you schedule your creative teams. Alright, that’s it for this episode. I will see you guys next month for another helpful episode. God bless you