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The Blame Game

I recently caught up with Rick Calcutt to talk about his new book, “The Blame Game.” This book is a great resource for you if you’re trying to improve your weekend worship services, the creative process, or the relationship between your Pastor and Creatives.

It recently released on iBook, Amazon, and Nook! Click any of those links to get your hands on a copy and check out the interview below.

I’m giving away a free copy of “The Blame Game” to one of my readers! Just sign up here and I’ll let everyone know the winner next week!



Paul: Multiple times in this book you elude to what you call, “The Creative Process.” Doesn’t creativity just “happen” when you gather a group of creative individuals together? Can you actually plan for creativity?

Rick: “The Creative Process” is the system that a truly creative environment thrives on. It does so by normalizing, simplifying, and qualifying the creative workflow. This is essential because when the “day to day” and “week to week” tasks become creative habits, the creative team is allowed to focus more on their skill and passion. In the book I call those on the creative team (worship leader, video & audio techs, etc) Creatives. It is true that creativity happens naturally, but it is also a fact that you can plan for creativity. Creatives create, but a strong creative process gives structure and timeline that permits multiple Creatives, a creative team, to sync their creative schedules, efforts, and skills. The creative process found in “The Blame Game” equips the individual Creative and the creative team. It provides them adequate time for creation; clear schedules that remove confusion about deadlines; innovative possibilities that stimulate creative collaboration. Everyone’s happy. The Creatives get a great environment for creation. The Pastor, staff and church community receive impactful, inspiring, and clear worship experiences.

Paul: When most people hear churches talk about “Creative Arts” they automatically start thinking, “this is just a conversation for mega-churches.” But you assert that the principles in this book apply, “regardless of the size of your church”. How are the concepts in this book helpful to “normal” churches like the one I grew up in?

Continue Reading…

Posted in Creative Arts, Leadership


5 Reasons We Started from Scratch with our Website

At Sun Valley we recently just completed a ground up redesign and launch of our website. Here are 5 reasons why we did, and you might want to as well:

1. Ease of Navigation

We understand that for many people our website is their first interaction with our church. So we worked hard to simplify navigation, make it easy for people to find what they are looking for, and answer questions people were asking. It meant choosing to be clear over being cute and get rid of “insider language” and simply call stuff what it is. For example you may have a “Stephen’s Ministry” at your church (great ministry BTW). But if you’re an outsider and you’re looking for care you have no idea who Stephen is and what’s so special about his ministry.

2. Going 2.0

To be honest our last website was really nothing more than an online brochure, very 1.0. With the new website we wanted to create more of a 2.0 feel with the integration of social media (Facebook and Twitter), blogs, and media that can be easily interacted with. We want to invite conversation and interaction, not just give people information. Information doesn’t change people’s lives, relationships do.

3. Re-branding

We needed to rebuild our website not just do a facelift. It was important to us that our website more closely reflect the brand and culture of our church. We intentionally worked to keep it clean, clear, and simple. We also worked to orient the website around our pathway and help people take steps in their spiritual journey.

4. Timing

This year we recently made the change from 1 campus to three campuses. We needed a website that was consistent in brand but could be unique based on the uniqueness of each campus. With the shift to multiple campuses and the re-brand that took place in the middle of it all, it was the perfect time to tackle this project. Not to mention going live now allows us to get any bugs worked out before a wave of people we anticipate seeing this Christmas.

5. Simple Updates

A practical change we made was that we had a simple content management system built that ministries could use to update the content and keep their areas of the site current. Nothing is worse than going to a website and getting old, stale, out of date information. Instead of the old system of going through one person to make all the updates (who has time for that), the new system allows for ownership, faster decision making, and current content for users to interact with.

Posted in Creative Arts


In God We Trust

At Sun Valley Community Church we’re getting ready to begin a brand new teaching series in November called “In God We Trust.” The reality is we put our trust in all kinds of things. Many of us think education will fix our problems, others strive after financial security, some chase after the perfect relationship, while others even believe electing the right President will solve our problems. We’re all putting our trust in something. What are you trusting in? Hope to see you at one of our three Sun Valley Campuses (Casa Grande, Gilbert, or Tempe) as we begin this conversation the weekend of November 3-4. Check out this brand new video and feel free to share it with your friends!

Posted in Creative Arts


4 steps to effective evaluation

Much has been written about the process of evaluation. In fact, some people make a pretty good living off of evaluation and the piles of data that it can produce. Because ministry doesn’t move in slow motion, I don’t always have the time to dig into everything as deep as I may like so I’m always looking for clear, simple, and functional tools for effective evaluation. Below are four simple steps you can use to evaluate just about anything, including a weekend service, an event, a meeting or even a team member.

Step #1: Celebrate

Celebration is often overlooked when it comes to the evaluation process. Our tendency is to dive into what didn’t go right and what can be improved upon. However it’s just as important to know what went right, as it is to know what went wrong.  After all, if you want it to go right again you’ve got to identify what went well, because what gets celebrated gets repeated.

Step #2: Correct

We don’t grow without correction. But correction can range anywhere on the scale from “minor improvements” to something was a “complete failure.” During this part of the process it’s important to be as candid as possible in measuring what happened against what you actually set out to accomplish. You can’t speak “ministerially” when participating in evaluation and get anywhere. Great evaluation is hard to come by without a culture of openness, safety, and candor.

Step #3: Clarify

What was confusing and needs clarification? Maybe you had an incredibly creative element planned into your weekend worship service. It was a great idea but it didn’t fit where you put it and it came off feeling awkward or worse, didn’t align with the message. Maybe communication was confusing in a meeting and it resulted in people walking out with competing agendas. What is the one message, action, or idea that you are trying to align everything to and clearly articulate?

Step #4: Create

This is the one all of the creatives were waiting for. At some point in the process you’ve got to ask yourself, “Was there anything missing?” Is there something that needs to be created and built to make whatever it is you’re evaluating more effective? This is where you’ve come full circle in the evaluative process. You’ve gotten on the solution side of things and you’re now working on implementing the next thing that’s going to be evaluated.

This article first appeared as a guest post I wrote for Creative Junket a Creative Arts Blog run by Rick Calcutt.

Posted in Creative Arts, Leadership



You’ve probably heard me say before that the quickest route to someone’s heart is through the arts. The scriptures teach us that God created mankind in his own image. In other words you and I serve a ridiculously creative and uniquely expressive God! The fact that we have been created in the image of this creative and art loving God both explains and reinforces the human love affair with artistic expression. This is why churches must wake up to the responsibility they have to leverage the arts in communicating most important message ever given to man kind. The Gospel. Art has the power to move us and communicate deep truths on a soulish level. Here’s a recent video that we did at Sun Valley Community Church to help people connect with The Gospel. My suggestion to you…is take it and use it at your church (for free).


Posted in Creative Arts
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