Guest Post by Shawn Wood: Creating Art in a Create on Demand Culture

The following is a guest blog by my friend, Shawn Wood, Experiences Pastor at Seacoast Church – Mt. Pleasant, SC

I first heard of the concept of “Creating on Demand” from @toddhenry of the Accidental Creative. The concept goes like this.  When we think of create on demand we usually think of products.  Widgets and Woozets.  Someone stands in the same place and creates the same things over and over again – on demand.  The old factory model.

But in the last few decades the rise of the creative class has created a whole new factory.  A creative factory, but instead of widgets and woozets the assembly line now creates thoughts, ideas, innovation and ultimately…art.

An art factory.  Sounds great doesn’t it?

The only problem is that is not how creativity works.  At least it is not how it works for me.
Some days I have good ideas.
Some days I have bad ideas.
Some days I have good ideas that turn into bad ideas.

But truthfully, many days I have no ideas at all.

So then I was thinking about this whole create on demand thing and it hit me.

The Church is the ultimate create on demand culture in the world.  It does not matter how many times you look at the calendar Sunday comes every 7 days – even in leap year.

So our job it would seem is to create on demand every 7 days an environment that leads to an experience that can move people, usher people into the power and the presence of God and  ultimately a work of art.  Even 200 Pomegranates to an audience of one.

So here is my question.  How do you do this?  Something fresh and moving every week.  Something worth a mom and a dad getting all the kids up and dressed, dealing with the traffic of parking and walking into our churches and giving us an hour of their lives.  Here are just a couple of things to remember and then I would love to hear your tips in the comments:

1.  Give the other artists (all the attenders) in the church the tools to help you create.
This is not a spectator sport.  We are not supposed to finish the canvas by Sunday, the rest of the artists are showing up to help.  Our job is to make sure the supplies are out, the canvas is ready and that an environment is there that leads to an experience with God.
One example of this is our response time at Seacoast.  We leave margin at the end of each service for three songs of worship and give people space to respond to what God is doing in their lives.  We provide the tools.  Some music.  Response stations (cross to pin confessions of sin, candles to light in prayer, prayer teams, communion stations, offering boxes) and allow the artists to pant their own canvas.

2. Don’t pre-chew the food for everyone.  That’s just gross.
Can you imagine having to eat all of your food pre-chewed.
We sometimes do that as artists for our church  Don’t over-plan everything.  Planning is good, but make sure you leave some room in your services for people to contribute and be a part.  Don’t over-dictate the mood so much that there is no room for a mood shift.  Don’t have a big-idea so chosen that when God decides to use the theme of the service in a different way you can’t move with him.  Planning is awesome.  It’s a essential and infact I believe that planning leads to flexibility.  Just make sure to allow that to happen.

Must Have Mobile Strategy


In July of 2008 I was speaking to a group of Church leaders in Santa Cruz, California. I held my phone (this was just before I got my iPhone) up in my hand and I said, “This is the future.”

It’s been a year and a half and mobile technology is the “now”, not the future. My friend, Bobby Gruenwald, Innovation Pastor at, constantly encourages his staff to think global and mobile – global and mobile.

I’m currently working with churches and organizations on helping them to create, dream and plan strategies around mobile technology. Your people are constantly becoming one with their phone (for good or bad) and it’s a reality that we need to be intentional about speaking their language. Again, as I’ve said before: we are digital missionaries.

As you know, I work often as a Secret Shopper/Mystery Worshiper. The first thing I check is the church’s website. The second thing I do is pull up their website on my iPhone. I have recommended several times that church’s follow the lead of Seacoast Church and get a mobile version of their website. I applaud and praise Seacoast for blazing a trail in this area. My hat’s off to my friend Shawn Wood and his team. Well done! If you have your phone handy (and I know you do) – pull up Seacoast’s website on it.

My church (and many others) send out text messages to attenders and members that opt in. My church also encourages you to text in questions and decisions that you may make as a response to the message. Many churches are utilizing text and SMS during services as an interactive piece. As I’ve blogged about before, many churches are using the free service from YouVersion Live.

I’ll be talking more in the near future about other mobile strategies and tools. In the meantime, if you and your church would like to strategize and put together a comprehensive plan that includes Web 2.0 tools, mobile technology, social media and social networking – give me a shout. My only goal is to help and equip you to speak the language of the people you’re trying to reach (digital missionaries).