Behind the Scenes of Riverwood’s Summer Series— “If”

.“What if?”

This was the question that sparked our newest series, If. For every series, I sit down with our Lead Pastor, Todd, and hear his heart and vision for the next series. Todd’s very visual, so generally he provides a short brief with some visual ideas and cues, the inspiration for the series, the goals for the series and some verses connected to the general message being communicated throughout.

From this brief, I try and distill some basic themes. From these themes, I lay out different ideas.

For IF, I had a few different ideas. From three different sentences from Todd’s creative brief, I was inspired to create three different concepts. I laid out each of these concepts with some visual inspiration and the rationale for that direction.


We landed on the one idea that stemmed from the idea of the word “if” opening up to all kinds of possibilities. Then, we decided to take a direction that was inspired by outdoor adventure (hiking, camping, etc.), which fits with the direction of the series and also seemed appropriate for a summer series.

The Creative Team for the project consisted of JR, our graphic designer; Kirsten, our videographer; Cole, our assistant videographer; and myself as creative director.

Our team decided to travel to Rushing River Provincial Park in Northern Ontario to capture photos and footage that were used for the visuals of the series. Visuals included; a series graphic, a teaser video and opener video, a series bumper, and online promotion for the series.



Ultimately our goal with any visual communication is to provide a representation of what is being taught in our services and inspire people with a more poetic angle on the message of the teaching. It’s our prayer that our creative labours will help people connect in deeper ways with the message brought to our church throughout the series.

Below are some photos from the shoot in Rushing River!

Zach Oulton
Creative Director

Team Night

Processed with VSCO with e3 presetOur Worship and Creative Team works hard to host what we call Team Night every couple months. Team Night is a place for those who serve with our weekend services to come and worship together, spend time in community, and learn from each other. We believe that God has created every person in his image, and as a creative God, so too has he made each of us for creativity.

Together our teams work to create six incredible worship services every weekend where people worship Jesus, connect in community, and are encouraged, inspired and challenged through the teaching of our pastors and leaders.

We met on February 23 for Team Night and it was an awesome night! Our assistant worship leader Dan and his wife Rachel led worship, I shared some of what’s on my heart for our teams and then we broke off into groups to discuss how each of us could grow in the areas we serve with.

A highlight for me was watching one of the members of our Warehouse lighting team, Rudy, train a student from our Uprising community, Isaac, on the lighting system at the Warehouse. This is such a beautiful picture to me of what the Church is built around: people from all walks of life coming together for a common purpose and vision. This picture reminds me of what the prophet Joel foretells:

“Then in those days I will pour My Spirit to all humanity;

        your children will boldly and prophetically speak the word of God.

    Your elders will dream dreams;

        your young warriors will see visions.

    No one will be left out. In those days I will offer My spirit

        to all servants, both male and female.” – (Joel 2:28-29, VOICE)

God pours out his Spirit on all people, both young and old, and uses them to encourage and strengthen each other. He uses people of all ages to bring his Word to a broken humanity in desperate need of the saving grace that is only found in Jesus.

This is why I love Team Night!

— Zach


Prince of Peace

From the moment this series— “Grit” started we knew that we wanted to communicate really visually. Video provides an incredible opportunity to illustrate a concept in a way that isn’t possible on stage. Our Videographer Kirsten and myself sat down with Todd and heard his vision for illustrating the comparison of a personal devotional life to a sailboat’s keel. A keel is filled with thousands of tonnes of lead that help keep a sailboat stable, even in the midst of storms and intense wind. Todd had recently visited a harbour in Gimli Manitoba that had several sailboats, so we loaded into his truck on a chilly Thursday morning and drove out to Gimli.

As we approached Gimli it started to rain very lightly. No problem, it was raining in the story of Paul’s journey to Rome that we would be telling so it seemed appropriate. We pulled into the harbour. Todd hopped out to talk to the owner, Jeff, who immediately treated us as if we were all old friends. We found Jeff’s boat and it seemed like a good option. We got out of the truck and I am sure that I was almost blown over. The wind coming off the nearby lake was insane! Immediately our thoughts are all racing, how are we going to manage sound in such windy conditions?

We decided that with some strategic mic placement and angling away from the wind we’d be able to manage. So we started setting up. We got into place, audio levels were good, cameras were in position and we were ready to start shooting… until it started raining harder. Sometimes the timing of weather is perfectly annoying eh? So we packed everything up and hopped back into the warmth of the truck. While we warmed our hands by the vents and waited out the rain we decided to drive over to the lakefront and get some b-roll of the waves. We pulled around and got out. It was FRIGID. I couldn’t believe how cold and wet it was.

As I struggled to see through the rain on my glasses and shivered against the cold damp wind, it reminded me of the song Prince of Peace by Hillsong United.

“My heart a storm, clouds raging deep within
The Prince of peace came bursting through the wind
The violent sky held its breath
And in Your light I found rest”

Suddenly these words that I’ve been listening to quite a lot recently had significantly more meaning. The sea, in the Bible, is often representative of chaos. And we were definitely experiencing that firsthand. But Jesus, the Prince of peace, comes “bursting through the wind.” I thought of the story of Jesus calming the storm. He brings peace to chaos. And I was suddenly encouraged! Sure these conditions weren’t ideal, but we’ve come here to communicate an incredible concept, that consistent time spent in prayer and with God can establish a stable base for our life. Jesus wants to use this message we’re trying to communicate to bring his Church into deeper relationship with himself. All of these weather problems aren’t going to stop the Prince of peace!

So as we continued to struggle with cold and rain and wind, we did eventually push through to find a location to shoot the video and communicate this important discipline. And it’s my prayer that as we seek to communicate creatively to our church, that God would also use the moments that we are creative to speak directly to our hearts and encourage us to push through for his Kingdom and his Glory!