by Director of Story Kristin Baker

Yes, believe it or not, it’s time to talk about Christmas. After many years of having Christmas “surprise” us, we’ve started the discussions and planning earlier and earlier each year. We’ve come to realize the crucial timing of the season to bring in new people who would never step foot in a church for most of the year. To the Average Joe or Jane, taking your kids to see a Christmas show as a part of the natural rhythm of the season makes much more sense than dragging your family out of bed every Sunday morning and piling up an extra commitment to the rhythm of your week. So—we put a lot of thought, energy, creativity, and resources into our Christmas plans every year with Joe and Jane and their family in mind.

Here are a few samples of some of the Christmas productions we’ve done in past years:

2013 Scrooge: A Modern Musical

Our own spin on A Christmas Carol with recent hits on the billboard charts.

We held auditions for this and then wrote the show to the people we had, which provided a fun new spin and some interesting new characters. It was kind of an Annie meets Scrooge, since we had an army of talented kids audition. We figured God always makes the best of what we offer Him, so we’d better make the best of what He offered us. This fun, new take on a classic story was the result.

2012: Granger Commons Christmas Spectacular (Variety Show)

With the rising popularity of Christmas specials on TV, we thought we’d take a stab at a variety show, featuring our volunteers in their sweet spots. This was a fun show to put together, but we found the attendance wasn’t quite what we’d hoped. We found that, no matter how excellent the arts we were offering, story sells. People just weren’t sure what a “Christmas Spectacular” was. However, we had a blast!

2011: Let it Be Christmas

A full-length production telling the Christmas Story with Beatles music. We had originally produced a shorter version of this show in 2007, which sold out. We thought we’d try it again and expand it a bit. It sold out once again. Guess people like the Beatles, but we ended up showing them Jesus is even cooler. (Sorry, John Lennon.)

2010: Once Upon a Midnight Clear

A completely original full-length musical inspired by the movie Big Fish. What would the Christmas story look like if it took place in a vintage Circus? This was risky. Some loved it. Some, especially those who are afraid of clowns, didn’t like it so much. But I was incredibly proud of our team for trying something completely original. We grew and learned a lot from this show. At the end of Big Fish people told the author, “That’s my dad! I just didn’t know how to tell his story!” The manger scene gets lost in the clutter of Christmas, so we hoped a new setting for the manger might shed some new light. We hoped people would see our show and say “That’s my God! I just didn’t know how to tell His story!”

This summer we hope you’ll take some time to ask God what He wants to say to your community through you this Christmas. After all, it is His birthday!

To learn more about Granger’s process for planning, promoting and executing weekend series, come to the Creative & Communication Arts Workshop—one of many workshops happening October 13 & 14. Get your tickets now and save money with early bird discounts.

by Director of Story Kristin Baker

Powerful stories are sitting in your congregation waiting to inspire and point people toward Christ. Many of us have had to sit through long rambling stories of people that feel awkward and confusing. If you can find ways to help your people tell their story better, you will, like Christ did, tell a better story. Here are a few tips for helping to craft and capture personal testimony stories of people in your church.

  1. Seek out the Story:

    Set up topical confessional booths. The goal of these is to find concise sound bytes on one topic to cast a wide net of “Me Too” moments that relate to a general topic.

    Here are a couple of examples:


    The Time I Needed God the Most:

    In these sessions, we limited the time to ten minutes per person and asked very specific questions about the main idea, lesson learned, the low points, and asked them to try to describe their experience in one sentence.

Continue reading on the GCC Creative Team’s Blog...

by Kristin Baker, Director of Story

Have you noticed Sunday is relentlessly faithful? Week after week, she comes with expectations of greatness. Year after year, Christmas and Easter seem to call us into an office, sitting behind a big desk, arms folded, looking down at us as if to say “Impress me.” If we’re honest, artists in the church can easily admit that there are seasons where we feel less like Picasso at an easel and more like a vending machine outside a Speedway.

There are three important questions to ask.

  • Why do we get in cycles where we feel this way?
  • Where do we get ideas from when we’re feeling empty?
  • What can we do to “stock up”?

Much like a triune God who loves to watch us “play” instead of just “work,” these three questions can gracefully bring us back to the easel, where we once again hear the Master painter whispering ideas for the next masterpieces to create that point us all back to Him. And more importantly, we start building a ladder to help us crawl out of the sinkhole of the “have to” mentality back up into the fresh air of “get to.”

So—WHY do we get in cycles where we feel this way?

Continue reading on the GCC Creative Team Blog...

by Kristin Baker, Director of Story

Years ago, I’d get in trouble for laughing in church. Now I get to write things to try to make everyone else laugh in church. Don’t tell me Jesus doesn’t love irony. Here at GCC, our leaders and arts team truly believe in the power of comedy to connect people, ease tension on tough topics and, most importantly, open up hearts and minds so they’re ready to receive the truth of the gospel. Here are seven quick tips and examples that might help you get that combover-sporting, easily offended, scowl-wearing elder to loosen up and let that potluck potbelly shake like God intended.

1.) Hyperbole – Exaggerated characters make it safe to call attention to behaviors that are outside the character of Christ. Sample: Our leaders wanted to call attention to how our culture is tribal and has made sports and entertainment our new religion. They longed to help our people move from just a “fan” of Jesus to a fully committed follower. So in the fall at the height of college football (we live in Notre Dame-ville), we developed a series called “Not a Fan”. This piece “Fansanonymous” was written with exaggerated characters to illustrate some of the concepts in the series.

2.) Fish Out of Water – Place a character in a scene where he is out of his comfort zone and trying to figure out his place. This is a common comedy technique you’ve seen in several films like “Mr. Mom”, “Big”, “Elf” etc. Everyone chooses a character to “ego-identify” with in a scene. This is a vehicle for helping people discover the truth of what the speaking pastor is trying to deliver. In this sample, we were doing a family series and were aware that single people often feel left out when we address topics on marriage and parenting. One of our teaching pastors is single and wanted to devote a weekend to letting single people know that they are valued, that the church is their home, and that family comes in many forms. He also wanted to help married people understand that singleness is not a state to be corrected or looked down upon. Thus—“The Single Guy.”

Continue reading on the GCC Creative Arts Blog...