Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

The 2011 Willow Creek Christmas service had three main elements. Christmas carols, creative element, and the message. This has become their Christmas liturgy.

The service began with some Christmas carols to give the audience their fill. Then you had your typical announcements, offering, and year-end fund discussion. They segued to their creative element. Then Bill Hybels got up for the message.

What made this year a bit different was the creative element. Rather than a few dances or dramas, the creative team made a 26-minute feature film called “Reaching Alice”. The film revolved around a modern-day television reporter following the exploits of a miraculous man.

It was a portrayal of what our world would be like if Jesus had been born 30 years ago. How would the news outlets report on the miracles and teachings of Jesus? How would our modern culture be affected by such events? And how would a reporter with an issue of blood come to meet Jesus, and ultimately be healed.

Christmas was just the beginning. So often we talk about the lead-up to the birth of Jesus. But we don?t talk about the impact the birth had on people. What would it look like if the birth was literally the beginning?

So they explored a modern day parable of Christ living in modern times. They knew the story would be epic and would be far beyond the capabilities of a play, so they turned it into a feature film.

Because this was a live service, though, they didn?t want to just show a film. They wanted it to feel live ? immersive. So rather than add music in post production, they brought in an orchestra to score the film live. The dialogue and background noises were on the film, but the music was conducted live ? via click track and cues to the conductor.

Watch the trailer to see how it went down.

(The Willow Creek folks are working on getting the licensing to display the full feature film publicly. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to be notified when the full video is available.)

Quick Facts

  • Number of Services: 12 services, 1 in Spanish
  • Length of Services: 75-80 minutes
  • Attendance: 80,000 in all 12 services
  • Preparation: 6 months

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