Today, we are thrilled to present a guest post from Pat Laeger. Pat is the Director of Media & Tech Ministries at Meadow Spring Church in Chaska, MN. He has a passion for visual worship and telling stories visually. He has been married to his wife, Brittany, for a year and a half. His love for Mountain Dew borders on addiction and he has a puppy named #oakleyrembrandt (check out the hashtag on Instagram!). You can find him on Twitter and Instagram @patlaeger. Check out how Pat used Journey Box Media’s “Light Shines” mini-movie to create an awesome Christmas Eve experience for their church community… but first, if you haven’t had an opportunity to watch “Light Shines”, you can do so right now.

I received a call from my wife one morning in November. “I have a cool idea for Christmas Eve,” she said. Then she went on to explain her idea, which involved our church band performing the song ‘Spark’ by The City Harmonic with motion graphics on screen starting with a small star and progressing though the nativity story and ending with an allusion to the cross.

After thinking about the visual story we could tell along with ‘Spark’, I remembered the ‘Light Shines’ mini movie from Journey Box Media. It tells the story of a light coming and shining for us. The lines that tied the song and mini movie together for me were “Religion unmasked, hypocrites taken to task. Answers pondered, questions asked. Which is the greatest? Who is my neighbor?” from ‘Light Shines’, and “Could a spark of Your love light the whole church on fire? When we care

for our neighbor more than we care for style” from ‘Spark’.

I wrestled with how to put the 2 pieces together. Should the song lead into the mini movie or the other way around? And ‘Light Shines’ doesn’t have any overtly Christmas scenes. Then, I had a crazy idea to mix the 2 pieces together and use our band as the soundtrack to the mini movie with the mini movie narration playing over our live band. I asked Kevin at Journey Box Media if we could have the mini movie without his music underneath. Kevin was very happy to help us out and sent it over right away. After some editing, I came up with a roadmap for how the song and mini movie would wind together to tell a cohesive story.

To make the visuals all fit so it didn’t seem so “pieced-together”, I found an awesome motion graphic bundle from Church Motion Graphics that had key words from the song in the graphics and incorporated the original star concept that started this project. By coloring it to match ‘Light Shines’ and layering a simple nativity story mini movie from Shift Worship over those motions, the visual storytelling matched the audio storytelling and incorporated Christmas. We meet in an old movie theater, so our screen is a big part of our services and we spend a lot of time working on our visuals. We try to use it to tell interesting visual stories and help people worship with their eyes as well as with their voices.

We didn’t want to use a click track for our band, so we came up with a plan to make each part of ‘Light Shines’ a separate clip with a looping motion following for the band to play over. Then on cue, we would play the next ‘Light Shines’ clip. To alleviate some pressure from our band, we used a pad loop from under the first couple clips of the mini movie and first verse of the song. With that planning and some practice, our band and tech team knocked it out of the park at all 3 of our Christmas Eve services.

Our pastor taught a message on Christmas Eve about God’s grace. God sent his son, full of grace and truth, to the world on Christmas to change the world. The story we were able to tell with this video and song closed out our services perfectly. The part that really excites me about this is that it will be an ongoing story. We cut the ‘Light Shines’ mini movie at the midway point. We are going to continue this story on Good Friday and Easter by playing more and more of the mini movie each time to explain the rest of the story of Jesus and the grace of God.

I want to say a big thanks to Kevin at Journey Box Media for letting me edit and chop up his creation. It turned out much better than anything I could have come up with on my own. I love the creativity and storytelling he brings to the mini movies. Thank you for serving the Church and telling great stories!

Watch the video below to see how it all worked out for Meadow Spring Church!

You can purchase “Light Shines” by clicking here.