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 Filmmaker & Designer Adam Tarwacki

If there’s one thing I have learned in my time creating video at Granger it’s that I can shoot the most amazing footage and have the coolest motion graphics—but if I have bad audio I have a bad product.

Once upon a time there was a story of life change that, if captured and told, could change lives. So we contacted our video guy, also known as Joe Shmoe (also known as Dustin Maust). He shows up with a camera, shoots the story, and it looks beautiful. He captures tears, laughter, and has the best comedic movement ever. This video will be awe inspiring. He sits down to edit this masterpiece only to realize all he can hear is the hum of the air conditioner and the loud kids in the room next door with a hint of his subject underneath. He leans back in his chair, raises his hands to the sky and cries out, “Why, oh why did I not heed the words of my master Adam Tarwacki?!” *Just so we are clear, I actually learned this from Dustin but I’m sure he learned if from somewhere else.

It all boils down to this: Good audio is half of a good video. You cannot forget about audio. Your audience will become distracted with humming and hissing and peaking volume. It’s hard to concentrate on the real story. Our job is to provide a full product that is engaging, beautiful, and helpful—one that tells the story and is distraction-free so the message is clear.

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


An excerpt from C Magazine

I was in the middle of a job change, we had just sold our house, one of our daughters was diagnosed with cancer and the other was fighting an eating disorder. I was very near the breaking point. The rules of how to act like a man in tough situations were breaking down for me. I was so distraught and desperate that when I would try to get into a proper man conversation about our situation, I would just start spilling my guts and sharing my anxiety. It was obviously very uncomfortable—for me and the other guys who suddenly remembered something they needed to do as they politely excused themselves.

I was reaching out for someone to at least understand one aspect of my ordeal. I remember coming to the conclusion that most people just didn’t really care, and the ones who cared really didn’t understand. I think it was the most alone I have ever felt in my life. I cried, but almost always alone. I stopped praying. I felt like I had told God everything. He knew how I felt. The rest was up to Him. I didn’t need to risk boring or scaring Him off, too.

When we went out to the treatment center for family therapy week with one of our daughters, I was numb—just going through the motions. I had pretty much given up on people, on God and on hope.

Continue reading in C Magazine...

At Granger, we believe in the power of story. Because we believe this so strongly, we’ve innovated our storytelling approach and started a magazine. C Magazine is for the people of our community. It’s a chance to share the stories of what God is doing in hearts and lives with people who may or may not step inside the walls of our church building. We’d love for you to check out our recently released second issue for free. And if you’d like to be a part of the conversation around innovative approaches to spreading the Gospel, you’ll want to bring your team to Innovate 2014 on October 14 & 15. We’ll explore strategic and practical ways to innovate in every ministry are.

Something we’re passionate about at Granger Community Church is story. We believe that stories have a way into hearts and minds that no other medium can reach. We relate when a person shares a story of failure or vulnerability. We are inspired by stories of success. It's not that other methods are bad or ineffective. We simply believe that real, authentic stories are another valuable way to share the gospel. And messages, videos, songs and blogs can all be ways to share stories. But this past year, we started exploring a new [to us] way of sharing stories: C Magazine.

C Magazine was born out of a desire to share stories of the ways God is working in real people’s lives in our community with people who may not step inside the walls of our church. We’re still newbies on this journey—the first issue was released last October, and the second one is in the works, with a projected Spring release. But we want to share with you what we’ve been working on. Maybe it’ll inspire something fresh. Maybe you’ll connect with the stories. Download a free copy or visit the website to see for yourself.

Have you heard about our One-Day Workshops? These are intense and focused, interactive learning environments that your whole team can take advantage of. Get away for one day and join us at Granger Commons on Friday, April 25 to learn more about First Impressions, Communications and Kids’ Ministry. Then stay with your team for the Arts All-Access workshop on Saturday, April 26 where you’ll go behind the scenes and attend the Saturday night service.