Greg and I had the privilege of attending Story Conference in Chicago this past fall. To say it was life changing is not an exaggeration. My thinking was challenged, my spirit inspired, and my creative fire set ablaze. One of the people we heard at Story was Blaine Hogan, the Creative Director at Willow Creek Church. The article he wrote for the program really challenged me and my thinking about what we plan creatively at our church. You can read it by clicking the link below.
This past Christmas, our church celebration of “God With Us” was an amazing artistic journey of story and art. We took the main ideas of Willow’s program and expanded it into 3 weeks of storytelling and interactive services. The main decor theme was paper chains.
We had paper chains on the stage, in the foyer, in the youth center, and in our new atrium. Including a 19ft paper chain tree and 5ft paper chain wreaths my husband designed.
Of course the main idea for paper chains was showing how our lives are linked together by the stories we tell and share. Our lives link together and reach out to our community and up to God. It was such a great concept and ended with an interactive activity where people wrote their prayer need on a paper chain link and then we connected the links and draped them over trees in the sanctuary. It was beautiful and quite moving.
I guess the most profound part of the entire experience happened when I was sitting in the back of the church watching the altar service. A lady approached me and shared her story.
Because of past hurts and loss, she hadn’t been able emotionally to handle attending a Christmas service. She would try, but her emotions always overtook her. Her Christmas wasn’t filled sharing good times with family and friends. In fact, Christmas was when she felt most alone and spiritually weak. As tears filled her eyes, she told me this year was different. She had attended all of the services and was so encouraged and strengthened. “It’s the chains, they provide such a symbol of strength for me!” wow! I was blown away. God had used the simple beauty of paper chains to minister to her need.
I am so thankful to be an artist, to express creatively the message of the gospel. I get to help engineer environments and experiences where people can experience God. That is amazing to me. Each art piece, each song, each stage design must be seen as a way to tell the story, the story of a God who loves us wildly and longs to invade of lives with peace, joy, and love.
Enjoy a short video of one of our Christmas services